Sunday, 2 June 2013

Developing Technologies in TV and Film: HD, Streaming, On Demand, Pay Per View, Digital Recorders

The TV and film industries are rapidly changing especially with regards to new and developing technologies. In previous posts, I looked at satellite and cable television, the move from analogue to digital technologies in both film and television and interactive and internet television. Finally in this post I will look at other developing technologies such as HD, streaming, On Demand, pay-per,view and digital recorders.

With picture quality becoming more important to modern audiences, High Definition formats and channels are increasing. High Definition (HD) means that the resolution of the picture is much higher than standard definition. This means that there are more pixels used to make up the picture on screen and therefore the picture quality is better and clearer with less visible pixels to the viewer. There is HD recording equipment such as cameras, HD televisions, HD projection in cinemas and even HDMI cables that ensure the best picture quality comes from a Blu-ray player to the television. HD technology is becoming increasingly cheap and is now becoming the standard experience for the viewer. For filmmakers, the iPhone and iPhone 4S will even let people record HD footage on their phones, allowing people to make high quality films on relatively cheap technology.

Developing technologies are mostly about offering viewers more ways to watch and greater choice with how and when they watch TV and film. Streaming means people can watch programmes and films as they are being downloaded to their computer and Lovefilm and Netflix offer this method of viewing to their subscribers. Content is delivered immediately and depending on internet connection speeds, people can watch what they want as soon as they wish to. Sometimes the viewer may have to wait for the programme to buffer and this can affect the viewing experience negatively, particularly if it needs to buffer in the middle of watching.

Similarly On Demand television and film is available over the internet and allows the consumer almost complete control over what they watch and when they watch it. More and more channels are offering On Demand services such as iPlayer, 4OD and Demand 5, meaning that consumers are not restricted in the way they once were to watching TV when it is originally broadcast. This is very useful to people who require more flexibility due to their hectic lifestyles.

The other option for those with busy lives that cannot watch TV shows when they are scheduled and broadcast on traditional channels is to record programmes with a digital recorder. Whereas viewers used to be able to record television on tape (that degraded over time and with heavy use), they can now digitally record shows either on to PVR which stores the information on a large internal hard disk or a DVD recorder which allows the programme to be stored on a digital versatile disc. Many PVR’s allow consumers to store a programme in HD in order to watch it at a later time but the hard disc will eventually fill up and programmes will need to be erased in order to make room for new ones. A DVD recorder on the other hand may not be able to record in HD but it means that programmes can be archived endlessly and also shared with other people is desired.

Pay-per-view is also becoming increasingly common for viewers offering even more choice but also adding more cost to their viewing. If consumers do not want to subscribe to a Sky Sports or Movies package but still want to watch specific movies or sports games, they now often have the option of paying a one off fee for the privilege. This can be costly but is similar to renting a film from a video shop. It also means they can get access to live events as they happen such as football matches and even music concerts.

Technology is developing very rapidly and is constantly changing the TV and film industries. The impact of the internet means that though there is more illegal piracy and downloading, there is also much greater choice for the consumer than there has ever been before. Though consumers are occasionally forced into upgrading technology (analogue to digital TV), the benefits of new technologies are great. The means of production are becoming cheaper and so more people can get involved with producing films and TV but there are still challenges to getting content noticed. Though everyone appears to benefit from new emerging technologies, there is always a concern that the rich benefit much more than those less wealthy. People with more disposable income to spend on entertainment have greater access to new technologies and therefore more choice than others.

Check out the rest of the posts in this series:

Satellite and cable TV
Move from analogue to digital technologies 
Interactive and internet television

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