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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Some mid-week linkage: ILM, Sam Raimi, Michael Bay, and More

- For about a week, the blog world has been buzzing about this post from director Michael Bay, alleging that Microsoft is trying to slow down adoption of either high-def DVD format so that it'll have time to corner the market on digital downloads.

I think the theory is a bit off. First of all, Microsoft's Xbox Live Marketplace, where it sells digital downloads, is still an unknown quantity -- the company has never announced how many movies and TV shows it has sold there (unlike Apple with iTunes). Second of all, if you wanted to propagate conspiracy theories, why wouldn't you suggest that Apple is trying to hamstring high-def discs? It's iTunes Store is the dominant place for buying downloads, and Apple has yet to ship a computer that can play either Blu-ray or HD DVD discs.

- Industrial Light & Magic says it wants to work on lower-budget projects. What's a shoestring pic to the San Francisco-based VFX topdog? $35 to $40 million, according to Variety.

- Director Sam Raimi talks visual effects in another Variety piece. (I have a soft spot for Raimi, since in his 'Dark Man' days, he was the first director I ever interviewed.) He says:

    No director is ever done with their film. Now the director has the necessity and opportunity to keep directing the film, not just for the shooting period of three months, but on a longer picture, maybe for an entire year or on a 'Spider-Man' film for 2½ frickin' years straight. And it's hard. It's exhausting. You can keep redirecting this shot forever. It's an opportunity to work yourself to death.

- Lots of cool video on the promo site for the new Indiana Jones movie... but no way to embed it in a blog, or link directly to an interesting clip. That makes it harder for bloggers and fans to promote the movie on their sites.

- Wall Street Journal reports on Internet-connected set-top boxes, which aren't yet getting traction in the market. Nick Wingfield writes:

    What's the holdup? Generally speaking, the video players are just too complicated to hook up, too expensive and too limited in what they can do. There are skeptics, too, who think Internet video players are trying to solve a problem that simply doesn't exist -- especially as cable companies enhance on-demand video services.

    ...Still, tech companies can't stay away from the idea, because of the booming popularity of Internet video. In August, Internet users in the U.S. viewed 9.13 billion online videos, up 26% from 7.24 billion in January, estimates research firm comScore Inc.

    Users watched more than a quarter of those videos on Google Inc.'s YouTube, but online video from traditional entertainment companies is exploding, too.

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