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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Weekend News: Movie Piracy, SNL Rehearsals, Disney Lay-Offs, D-Cinema, and Web Video

- A movie pirate named Johnny Ray Gasca got sentenced to seven years in prison. (Who do all the criminals use their middle names, one of them always Ray?) He got caught with a camcorder in theaters three times in 2002 and 2003. From the Wall Street Journal's piece:

    Mr. Gasca often enlisted friends to sit beside and in front of him at movies, so no one would stand up and interrupt his filming. He often snuck into pre-release screenings. When caught taping "Anger Management" in 2003, he dumped his tape into his friend's popcorn and escaped, but was later caught. In early 2004, he told his lawyer he needed to buy cold medicine and then escaped from a drug store. It took federal agents more than a year to track him down in a Florida motel, where he was found with stacks of movies and copying equipment.


- From Reel Pop...NBC is considering making 'Saturday Night Live' rehearsals available on the Web. That'd be cool, since lots of sketches get cut or changed before the broadcast, and it'd be fun to see how the show evolves.


- Disney is cutting 160 jobs at its animation studio in the wake of the Pixar acquisition, according to the WSJ. No job cuts at Pixar, just Walt Disney Feature Animation -- where about 20 percent of the staff will get pink slips.


- An article about digital cinema in Cincinnati, from the Cincinnati Enquirer. AccessIT is doing the installation. Lots of talk about alternative content -- but still not many examples.


- I've got two articles in newspapers today... In the Boston Globe, I look at how sites like Netflix are trying to improve the quality of their recommendations.

And in the San Jose Mercury News, there's a piece about professional versus amateur video on the Web, headlined, `As online viewing booms, the amateurs give way to big media.' Here's the opening:


    Whenever a new technology makes personal expression easier -- from desktop publishing in the 1980s to video sharing in 2006 -- denizens of Silicon Valley leap to the same conclusion: Finally, amateurs will triumph over those self-satisfied professionals, kicking aside the titans of the publishing industry/music industry/movie industry/TV industry.


    The latest wave of innovation involves Web sites that simplify the process of editing and uploading video, making it globally accessible. Suddenly, anyone can become a broadcaster for free -- and no FCC license is required. YouTube, which now shows 100 million videos a day, has been at the forefront of this wave and was recently acquired by Google for $1.65 billion. But there are dozens of others, most of them headquartered in the Bay Area, and most of them less than two years old. (YouTube didn't launch until May 2005.)


    Since the video publishing revolution began last year, much of the content that has been published and viewed on the Internet has been produced by amateurs: Chinese teens lip-syncing to the Backstreet Boys, motivational speaker Judson Laipply dancing to a medley of pop songs, an angry senior citizen scolding a fellow passenger on a Hong Kong bus, skateboard tricks gone awry, and kitties doing adorable things -- like prancing across a piano keyboard.


    But as movie studios, advertisers and television networks make more of their content available online, viewers' habits may be starting to shift. If Web video was dominated by citizens with camcorders in 2005 and 2006, the pendulum in the coming year will likely swing toward professional content producers and big media companies.