Adam C Lubkin
01-15-2011, 12:31 AM
I've directed several instructional DVDs on drawing and painting which were self-produced by the artist. They've done very well, but people have been pirating them, and online places are renting them without compensating. No surprise, but it does give pause.
Do you think DVDs, Blu-Ray, etc, will be the most viable way to market and distribute instructional content for the next few years, or should we be switching over to downloads or some kind of streaming setup?
I'm also considering producing some interactive instructional content and distributing as apps or on an interactive website. Any thoughts or advice on this?
01-15-2011, 03:26 PM
I have a feeling that internet distribution is the imminent revolutionary step that has to be embraced if people really want to knock out a lot of pirating. The thing is, I've been noticing some trends that seem to be taking hold of the industry and may eventually change everything about media and how we use the internet.
Apple has been a significant proponent in changing the way people interact with digital media. Not only do they have the ability to listen to music, watch video, and play games on their iPods/iPads/iPhone devices, but you can use those same devices to purchase more content through iTunes and the App Store. The amazing thing about all of this is its simplicity. Anyone can use the Apple devices, they're highly accurate touch screens blend seemlessly with the smooth iOS with its simplistic design and the big button nature of its GUI. These devices are so popular that some have even replaced their laptops with iPads and, for us creatives, having Photoshop-like apps, digital variants of our on-set tools, and with soon to be released apps like Final Draft, many can get by with an iPad alone. Users even have the capability to control their main computers from a distance, making for an all-in-one controlling device for nearly every digital need an average person could want.
Adding to that, we have Cloud computing. If it is used in a major capacity like I think it will be, it will definitely change everything about how we purchase and use computers. No longer will we need to have the latest and greatest computers, we'll simply need a small box or maybe even just our iPads, and we can play all the latest games with every ultra detailed graphics we want as well as pound through high-end 3D animation and video editing jobs with ease and perhaps in real time. Having all of this simply streamed over an internet connection will open up a lot of possibilities for software makers and could lead to major leaps in terms of features and performance.
The third element are the new fangled "Internet-enabled" televisions that have been popping up everywhere. Today, you can go out and buy an HDTV that can stream Netflix video, connect you with your Facebook page, and can provide basic weather and news with nothing more than a simple hookup to your current internet router. Imagine in the next generation or two, being able to access Cloud computing services through your TV as well and then combine that with an Apple TV or even have iTunes and the App store integrated into TV's as an additional service option.
Getting back to the computer element of things, we have Windows 7 and MacOSX. What is clear to see is how both have steadily continued to simplify their main GUI in order to streamline the computing experience. Look at iOS, it's simple, it works and it's completely capable of providing a satisfying computer experience for the majority of computer users, hence the popularity of Apple's devices and the similar themes adopted throughout the entire cell phone community and, in addition, its effects on the entire range of Microsoft's products. Simplicity is key, this is clear and, to be honest, it's just so nice to know that everything just works with the tap of a button. Now, the critical step that can make or brake the entire chain is whether or not control is taken away from users in the form of a iOS-like MacOSX or Windows OS. As it is now, we can turn on our computers, make text documents, create folders that house thousands of photos/videos/etc. and do most computer things that we're accustomed to, including changing settings and adjusting our computers to fit our personal needs. With that control, however, we have the ability to alter computer files down to their code, re-arrange and modify critical documents that make our computers work, create and design our own programs without restriction, and can walk in through the internet with complete access and, if someone knew what they were doing, being able to alter and re-arrange websites with ease. Can you do that on iOS? No, you need an outside computing source (ie. main PC) or someone needs to develop an app designed for that purpose. If you took away that level of control from the end user, you would instantly lose all forms of piracy overnight. The trick is locking out old versions of software by requiring an upgrade to the new services. Unfortunately, we're not at that stage yet, iOS is still relatively in its infancy and competitors are popping up in a big way, particularly Android OS and with the Windows 7 phone OS, so that whole aspect of the equation is still being figured out. However, it's still not that far off and could very well play out that way within a matter of two or three years if proper advances are made.
The internet itself would have to change as well. For instance, if such a dramatic change happened, you would no longer have websites as they are per se, instead they would be like the app-versions but perhaps a little more sophisticated. I go on IMDB.com all the time and I have the IMDB app on my iPod, both are different as the regular site shows more information than the app version does but I can access all the same information with both. It all just depends how I want to see it. It's no secret that there are junk websites and just about anybody can make one. A certain level of control can be had by making an app out of a website. It can be any site you want but the design and approval of such websites would be up to both the end user and the main app store. By having this level of attention, you wouldn't have as many illicit websites (ie. illegal child pornography websites, out of control bitTorrent sites, etc.) and even if a junk website like an IMDB-wannabe-clone website got through, much like the app store today, the end user would be able to make their own decision on whether to download and visit the website app and would be able to see reviews and other relevant information before making a decision. Not only would this cut down on the internet clutter we go through on a daily basis but it also makes things easier for end users as a whole. If you want to visit a particular website, you can do so instantly and not have to go through a barrage of search results before finding the right one. Web searching itself would change as it would be able to look for specific websites and no longer blow through detailed searches that bring a million results to the table. A change like this really would be the "Internet 2.0" as it would slough off all the junk clogging the internet we have now and clear the way for a faster internet experience than we can even imagine.
Try combining all of those things today. You would basically rid yourself of bulky computer towers, videogame consoles, media players, and your multitude of mobile devices. All you would need is your TV and maybe an iPad/Tablet PC and, if you needed it, a Blutooth keyboard. You could watch your favorite shows, regular TV (if it still existed), surf the new streamlined internet, check up your online community of choice, check your e-mail, listen to music, play a game or two, and be able to purchase anything else you'd need with nothing more than a touch of a button on one device. Not only that but you'd never have to back it up with countless hard drives, just log in to your account and you've got everything. You'd no longer have to worry about viruses or spyware, just surf the web. Phone calls could very well (and finally) be replaced by videocalls, thus bringing back a critical element of social interaction many are missing these days. Then, to bring it all back, if you're a filmmaker, you can make your film and be able to distribute it, perhaps not through all financially profitable channels, and never have to worry about it being pirated by anyone.
The added benefit to all of this is that piracy or hacking of any kind would have to be on a grander scale. Hackers would have to attack the service providers rather than the end users and, to do that, they would have to operate through outside channels using custom software, as we've seen in countless sci-fi or technology-based movies/tv shows/anime/etc. and if they were willing to do that, then they would have to be very careful as they would be tracked down through all available digital avenues and would ultimately be prosecuted for much more than disturbing the digital peace. More likely they would be looking at charges of conspiracy, fraud, terrorism, endangering the public, digital theft, and countless other charges that exist now or may be created just for that particualr offense. Hackers would no longer be treated as they are now, they would be considered the same as regular criminals, perhaps even more depending on what they try to do.
Of course, all of this has to happen and, even then, we have to see how it all comes together in order to make a clear judgement. But the signs are very clear today that we are heading towards a more simplistic iOS-like computing experience. Whether the end user is given full control as we have with our current Windows XP/Windows 7/Mac OSX/Linux/etc. computers today, we have to wait and see.
01-15-2011, 03:56 PM
I subscribed to a ZunePass (all you can eat, netflix style rentals for Music) and have all but stopped downloading music.
If I want to hear a song I can just start streaming it. Or download it to a device to play while offline (it gives you a 1 month license which then expires).
I think there is a lot of 'piracy of convenience'. Where they don't mind paying $15 for a DVD but they have to go through the trouble of getting it--and it's already free in front of them. Maybe they even intend to pay for it if they like it--but then forget and it's not a high priority and it slips their mind.
Streaming fixes a lot of that. You can offer it at a discount. If it's done right it's far more convenient than even piracy and it's easier than finding a torrent.
The best way to fight piracy in my opinion is to appeal to the average person's laziness. Make the legal option the easier, lazier, more impulse buy inducing option.
01-15-2011, 07:33 PM
I think a huge problem is Google - often if you search for a software, the first hits are torrents, above the legitimate vendor!!!
If Google can block political content from the Chinese, certainly they can block piracy from searches. They don't because they profit from illegal pirate activity, as those seeking illegal content see their ads. Technically, no matter how many Nerf toys they have in their halls, or massages they offer their employees, they are profiting off crime that puts legitimate content producers out of business. This is the simple definition of a criminal enterprise.
01-15-2011, 08:16 PM
I think there is a lot of 'piracy of convenience'.
I have to agree massively with this, and say that I believe distribution over the internet - either selling the file itself or a stream - is going to be a huge step forward.
Think about it.
Say I'm an aspiring artist or just a hobbyist. I want to get these DVDs. I have to order them - put in my credit card info, email, physical address, etc. Possibly into a website I don't really know if I can trust... And then I have to pay shipping. And then I have to wait for the things to arrive. And then, I can only play it on DVD players. If I want to watch it elsewhere I need to convert it or import it or something...I've heard about people doing it, but it sounds like a lot of work. Maybe I'll just get my friend/kid/etc. to download it for me over those torrents.
Versus, say, having the information delivered by a service like iTunes. They already have all my information regarding payment, I know it will be secure, and the cost is equal to or lesser than the cost of the DVD, not to mention what I save on shipping. All I need to do is click "Buy", enter my password, and wait a few minutes before I can start watching the video. And if I want to put it on my iPhone, iPad, iAnything, all I need to do is drag and drop.
Making a product - any product - immediately, conveniently, attractively, and securely available to a consumer goes a long way in preventing the "piracy of convenience".