Hollywood's Worried About The Wrong Thing When It Comes To Digital Archives

from the misplaced-worries dept

Is it really any kind of surprise that Hollywood is worried about the wrong thing? The NY Times ran an interesting article this past weekend about how Hollywood is starting to freak out over the potential costs of digitally archiving movies. Currently, film archives are simply stored in cool places, like salt mines -- but Hollywood doesn't quite know what to do with digital archives, and a new report has them freaking out about just how expensive it will be to store digital content. There are many reasons why this worry is misplaced -- starting with the simple fact that whatever it costs today is only getting cheaper, and that trend is only going to continue for the foreseeable future. However, we've talked about the risks of digital archiving and "digital extinction" before, and the threat is completely overblown and often misplaced.

The problem isn't with what it costs to store content. Storage is cheap and getting cheaper all the time. The real problem is that those doing the archiving keep wanting to put their content into proprietary formats which will rapidly go extinct. If, instead, Hollywood focused on storing (and making many, many copies) of the content in more open, easily accessible formats, this wouldn't be a problem at all. Hell, I'm sure the experts over at the Internet Archive, Google or Amazon would all be thrilled to help Hollywood preserve its digital films. However, since Hollywood is so freaked out by technology these days, the chances of them letting any of those organizations help out (even a not-for-profit one like the Internet Archive) seems slim to none.

In the meantime, why not get creative? How hard would it be to create a system that would build a p2p storage system for Hollywood archives, where lots of folks could store bits and pieces of movies for the studios in exchange for... say... a free sneak preview of an upcoming blockbuster? It's the sort of thing that the community would love to take part in... but, of course, in MPAA land anything P2P must be evil.
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Filed Under: archives, digital, hollywood, movies


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  1. identicon
    4-80-sicks, 27 Dec 2007 @ 7:49am

    Re: #4

    The assertion made in the NYT article that digital storage is more costly than the analog storage is correct, largely because analog information can is stored in very dense media such as a 70mm camera negative.

    Six foot wide reels of film are not smaller or cheaper than 1TB hard drives.

    The reason that movie studios use 'proprietary formats' to archive their content is that these are the formats necessary to digitally acquire, manipulate and produce films of acceptable quality. There is no consumer market for 4K digital intermediate motion picture file formats, any more than there is a consumer market for 70mm film cameras or projectors. While the divide between consumer and professional technology is narrowing somewhat in television technology, this is not the case in theatrical films. The hardware used to produce films -- and thus the file formats used to store these images -- are simply out of reach of the consumer.

    Those formats are necessary for editing, not for maintaining copies of the finished film. Additionally, hardware does not dictate file formats at all, and never has.

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