EDITORIALS

New Digital Media Format Dubbed 'UltraViolet' Unveiled at CES

by
January 5, 2011
Source: The Wrap

UltraViolet

It's about time. Hollywood is taking a huge step forward in digital distribution today. Six major studios have announced a new "service and format" called UltraViolet, created by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). Although I cherish my always-growing Blu-Ray collection, I recognize that the future is headed towards digital disc-less distribution, and along with Netflix Instant, which I already use and love, UltraViolet sounds like it's the next step in evolving the digital distribution medium. There are various press releases and details arriving in from multiple events at CES in Las Vegas, so there's plenty to read on this.

Among the studios supporting UltraViolet are Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. "Complementing the physical DVD and Blu-ray home entertainment markets, studios will begin offering UltraViolet content this year through digital online retailers and digital rights that come with packaged media, giving consumers the ability to watch digital entertainment across multiple platforms such as connected TVs, PCs, game consoles and smartphones." So it sounds like they're trying to come up with one unifying system for movie distribution and ownership, if that's what I'm understanding from this press release, which sounds terrific.

Here's how The Wrap explains it: "Get to know the name UltraViolet. By next year you'll be able to play all the movies and shows you download over almost any device -- from TVs to smartphones to tablets to PCs to Blu-ray players. You'll also be able to burn them onto DVDs and share them with family and friends." That sounds like a dream come true, if this is all real. Is that exactly what we're getting? That is their basic plan with it for now. In addition to those aforementioned studios, other stakeholders in the service include media behemoth Comcast as well as Microsoft, Best Buy and yep, even our pal Netflix. I'm sure Apple and Amazon will join eventually - as they're my two primary digital media destinations at the moment.

"These six major Hollywood studios were a driving force in creating UltraViolet, and their plans to make films and television shows available through the UltraViolet ecosystem cements a milestone union among the content, technology and retail services industries," said Mark Teitell, General Manager of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). "In 2011, UltraViolet will substantially raise the bar on the electronic home entertainment experiences in-market today."

Here's a look at what's next: Initially, consumers will only be able to play content they have stored in the cloud-based account by downloading UltraViolet-optimized media player apps for PCs, game consoles and smart mobile devices. In early 2012, the first electronic devices designed specifically for UltraViolet are expected to become available. Consumers will also be able to register up to 12 devices so UltraViolet content can be easily downloaded or shared between them. If you're looking for more specific details, PR Newswire has a full press release with tons of details, and Engadget has a good article from back in July when the "digital locker" concept was first being discussed. This sounds like it's a progressive idea with big potential.

The digital revolution already has begun and a future where DVDs may not even exist for purchase anymore seems a lot closer than ever before. As a big fan of Netflix and OnDemand as well as DVDs and theatrical viewing (the only true way to see cinema), I'm a supporter of all these formats and curious to explore every one, as I'm looking for the best way to enjoy more good movies. "Today's announcement that UltraViolet is ready shows that the entertainment and technology communities have made good on their promise to give the world a new, user-friendly digital standard for collecting movies and TV shows in the digital age," said DECE's Mark Teitell. Let's hope UltraViolet really does live up to that promise. I'll be following closely.

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  • Pookey
    Where's Milla Jovovich?
  • Hey, you just re-mortgaged and bought a super surround Blu-Ray system for the house. Well you better start saving for an extension to fit in the 1000 inch plasma lazer tv and the Ultra Violet eye burster goggles. I'm going to get a Blood Diamond mine, just so I can raise the cash to pay for a home system. Suckers...
    • Didn't have to remortgage anything - I'm a wise spender. :) Do you just think we're just going to spend more and more on technology to be able to watch all this digital stuff?
      • I'm only jesting Alex, I imagine once the hardware has been purchased it might actually make things cheaper in the long run and have less clutter round the house too. If people buy into it, it will also save the film companies money on producing dvd's/Blueray and will help them profit, so they can put more money into speedboats, I mean movies. As I'm always really far behind technology-wise, I'm always catching up. I had to get Avatar converted to Super 8 just so I could watch it in the house, looked pretty crazy in 3d though!
  • The only problem is that many of us in so called digital britain can't download movies, we don't have a broadband connection or even mobile connectivity in many areas. The old copper phone network can't let us into the cloud so we are building our own community fibre networks. We will catch up with all this stuff soon, despite the efforts of ofcom and the telcos to leave us in the digital slow lane.
  • Yeah...I'm never going to go digital. I'm not interested in the least about owning something and having nothing physical to show for it. IMO the industry only wants to go digital because it costs them less to release films and should something happen and you lose your movies they'll just say "Oops, I guess you'll just have to buy them all over again."
    • Chris
      Lose your movies? Isn't what you're describing basically the whole flaw in physical ownership? Lose the DVD and you're in the "Oops, I guess you'll just have to buy it again." bandwagon but if it's tagged as yours with so-and-so service, it's yours no matter what. Basically, the same principle as digital game services such as Steam have been offering for a while now.
      • 10Ninjas
        This is not true. Lets take i-tunes into consideration. Lets say you are like most people and do not backup your stuff. If your hard drive crashes. Even though there is record of you purchasing the media. You cannot download it all again.
        • Chris
          I suppose it does depend whether the service they're proposing is a shambles/rip-off like iTunes or something more sturdy. Given the mention of streaming, though, it would suggest that unlike iTunes, they keep a record of what you've purchased and so worries of vanishing titles would be somewhat unfounded.
          • Faffy Waffles
            Dunno what you're doing with iTunes but your doing it wrong. You can lose absolutely everything, smash your computer and feed it to a gorilla, but it's still there for re-downloading the next time you log in to your account. If you bought it from them, they will always restore purchases as long as you're signed in as you
      • John I.G.
        Totally Agree, and I'd reply to 10Ninjas but for some reason he doesn't have a reply button (wtf?). Anyways, in response to the whole iTunes thing. Yes, iTunes is stupid. That is why Chris used the example of Steam, which does let you re-download the files to whatever computer you are logged into, but you can only use them as long as you are logged in.
      • Thing is, if my tv/computer/dvr/whatever the heck stores the movies/etc. were to crash...well there goes everything. In order for me to lose my dvd's there would have to be something on the scale of a home destroying fire. Which happens more? Software crashes or a home fire? And I'm not willing to rely on the service I bought such movies from to restore the movies should I lose them. I'm supposed to store every movie I ever buy forever and ever on a hard drive and they need to keep the information that I bought their movie forever and ever on their hard drives?
    • IDX
      I will never go digital simply because I don't feel like I own anything unless I can physically hold it in my hand. As some believe, putting media on dvds/bluray discs aren't expensive at all and will not make a dent in the companies pockets. To me, this is just them trying to combat piracy but in reality, the only way everything going digital and be successful at the same time is to force it on everyone. For example, new game consoles will no longer make games on physical formats and movies after a certain year will no longer be available on physical formats. So if 2013 is the year movie companies no longer want to use dvd/blu-ray discs, then the only way to see movies you watch in the theater at home is through a digital outlet. It will make people buy these apps, players, televisions, whatever if they want to watch those new movies because they'll never be distributed in physical formats anymore. And just like raising the gas prices, the saying goes, "We have control of what people need. No matter how we present it, people will still buy it."
  • maybe when I have a 50mb line and the films I am watching are not compressed to death. I'll still prefer DVDs and Blu-Ray for a long time because it will be years till that kind of quality can be streamed to at least 80% of the internet enabled world.
  • Leetxjd
    They must think we are really that stupid. They are hiding what must be tremendously burdensome DRM. Just get rid of DRM schemes, I can easily rip a disc and ensure my devices all have the content I want. Something tells me you will need an UV television, a UV phone, and a UV portable movie player for any of it to work.
  • Rated RRRRRRRRRR
    So is this their answer to piracy...I think so.
  • K-elux
    People have been attempting alternates to disc based for awhile now and it isn't going to happen. You can buy a simple 900$ TV today and tell a huge difference between an over compressed HD download or streaming movie compared to a Blu-ray. No one wants to watch sub par quality on a nice TV they just bought. You can't come close to fitting a Blu-ray movie's content on a DVD which proves it will be shit quality for videophiles and sub par even for the average person in comparison. Aside from inferior quality not everyone has a fast internet and many companies such as Comcast cap your monthly rate. A lot of USA does not even have proper access to this kind of internet period. Even a 18 mb internet can't come close to streaming Blu-ray quality and would take half a day to download it. There is no reason to loose such audio and video quality for the "convenience" of downloading something .. which isn't really convenient due to time, etc. Popping in a disc is always easiest. Streaming a big library is nice .. Netflix is successful but when it comes to people actually paying per movie and in general they want high quality for their HD sets.
    • John I.G.
      What you have to realise is, sure it will take half a day to download it, but you will pay half as much or less probably for the videos. You don't have to pay mark-up at your dvd outlets, you don't have to pay for shipping to those outlets from warehouses, you don't have to pay for shipping to those warehouses from china, and you don't have to pay for the resources to create the discs, cases, pamphlets and boxes to put them all in. I say let the art come straight to the consumer and skip as many out-dated business structures as possible.
      • ZODdamit
        Will put a lot of people out of work, don't you think, are you really for that in these times???
        • Anonymous
          Technology exists to put people out of work. It is always putting people out of work. New economies will always spring from the corpses of old enterprise. New streaming technology might put DVD manufacturers out of business, but something else will spring up to service the new economy.
      • K-elux
        In return you are paying for something that will likely have some type of DRM and not even be a physical item. It may do well or decent for awhile but it will be awhile until it becomes any sort of standard. Maybe several years down the road when you can get really excellent quality (high bitrates, etc) in a 4-6GB file. That is really what it comes down to. It will not overcome Blu-ray until it matches or surpasses the quality.
  • Until internet speeds get better across the board and online streams look as good as bluray, I won't be going exclusive download or streaming and would not be happy if forced to resort to my movie watching and owning in that way.
  • DoomCanoe
    it had to happen some time every medium gets an upgrade and if all digital is the next way to go then so be it
  • Memphis
    Whatever happened to media being released on flash drives? I have a couple of albums that were released on flash drives (with a case) and I prefer that over discs. (Only reason I prefer them over discs is that progressing technology gives me fewer reasons to need discs.) But I am not as informed as most.
  • voodoo2
    I definitely see the benefits of disc-less media, but the ability to stream or download full HD content to most homes is just not here at the moment.
  • hmm intriguing
  • Anonymous
    In 100 years we will discover that hundreds of thousands of movies have been lost because there are no physical copies of those movies. Right now we have tons of old movies that actually exist because we have film and you can't encrypt film. Unfortunately, I've got a ton of movies on DVD and bluray, and in 30 years I will probably be unable to play any of them because even though the technology will exist, you have to decrypt the fucking things and I doubt the technology/software/knowledge to do that will stick around once it's stopped being profitable. This may be great technology and definitely would be nice if it worked the way I imagine it would in some utopia, but in the real world, it'll cost you every time you want to watch a movie, or your movie owning account will get hacked and you'll lose the ability to watch your films, etc. I will always buy physical copies of films and I will always back them up to unencrypted formats.
    • Drojas4
      I for one never purchase more then 30 or so movies in any format. i'm 49 years old and i went though, a Beta Max,VHS,RCA CED,Laserdisk, DVD, and now a Blu-ray player i'm sure it won't belong before this one is gone as well.   100 years from now all the movie will be converted too 4K format... and sold again as classics  :-)  

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