Wednesday Links

Clearing out my RSS Reader one last time before I hop on the plane to go to New Orleans for SCMS:

  • Via David Poland at MCN, the news that Universal has licensed rights to much of its movie content to AnyClip, a company that cuts up movies into brief segments and makes them searchable online. As the Hollywood Reporter article notes, the company hopes to partner with distributors such as Hulu and IMDB.com and has positioned each clip so that you have the option to rent or buy that video. Poland notes, however, that at least some clips are not available, pointing out that for the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the scenes with Spicoli are omitted, as is the scene in which Phoebe Cates emerges from the swimming pool sans top. As I understand it, the logic is that this will make legal versions of the film more searchable, especially given that approximately 2% of all internet searches (according to their estimates are related to movies). I haven’t had time to play with the site yet, but it’s a fascinating move by Universal.
  • The Hollywood Reporter also assesses the emergence of Amazon’s streaming service and concludes that it will be beneficial for Hollywood, in part because it may provide for more studio control over their content.
  • A short article announcing Redbox’s plans to launch a streaming service, which will focus almost entirely on movies, rather than television content.
  • At SXSW, Fandor, a streaming movie subscription service announced their launch. Perhaps their bigest advantage is that, rather than creating their social networking software from scratch, they have partnered with Facebook. I haven’t had a chance to sample their collection yet, but the Anne Thompson article suggests that it is a pretty eclectic mix. Buried deeper in the Thompson article is a discussion of BlipSnips, a tool that allows users to grab a short clip from any film and to share that online (one of Thompson’s examples is the Odessa Steps sequence in Battleship Potemkin). This might be a cool tool for creating libraries of clips for teaching purposes. Just a thought.
  • Speaking of Facebook, New Tee Vee weighs in on the news that Warner has begun distributing films via the social networking service.
  • A reminder that portable television existed long before the iPad. I vaguely remember the old Sony Watchmen. In particular, I remember attending a few Atlanta Braves games in the 1980s and noticing a fan or two who lugged one of those things into the stadium so they could watch the game on TBS while they were watching it live. This was before stadiums routinely rebroadcast every play on a center field screen, so while I found the idea of portable TV kind of cool, I was also a little perplexed that fans would want to mediate their experience of the game in this way.
  • Also of interest, a discussion of the failure of enforcement as a means to combat video piracy. The conclusion reached in a recent report by the Social Science Research Council is that the main problem is pricing. Viewers in emerging economies are still expected to pay $15-20 per DVD, a prohibitive cost for workers in many of these countries.
  • More Warners executives are suggesting that the “retail window” has been helping to improve slumping DVD sales.

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