Sunday, December 30, 2007

Adult Entertainment and the DVD Format War has an article about the impact of the adult entertainment industry on the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray format war. This may come as a surprise, but the adult industry has been at the head of nearly every major advance in mass media and distribution of cinema. It was among the main forces leading the way for early theatrical film exhibition, cable television, the creation of the home video market, and the explosion of the Internet. Now it may determine, or at least significantly impact, what hi-def format we watch films on.

Here are excerpts from the article:

In February of 2007, I asked a rhetorical question about the influence of Adult Entertainment (AE) on the format war, reminded you that AE helped VHS defeat Betamax, noted that $4 billion in AE DVD sales would seem to refute the notion that the Internet is the dominant AE delivery vector, and speculated concerning the appeal of high definition as a more intimate, more titillating means of delivering AE. Having received a couple of screeners, I noted that Digital Playground’s initial efforts were poor, although its subsequent efforts and those by Vivid demonstrated marked improvements. And with each successive improvement in quality came a commensurate improvement in intimacy. Ten months have passed, there is more data, and some trends are beginning to immerge.

* * *

The visual advantages of AE on HD have become just as dramatic as for mainstream film, and the experience of AE HD is substantially more intimate than its lower resolution counterpart on DVD. What hasn’t changed is the directors’ bad habit of framing for small screen and low resolution. With the 1080 format’s six-times greater resolution and the strong likelihood of viewers watching HD on a larger screen, extreme close-ups are unnecessary and invasive. AE directors should be composing their scenes as if they were shooting a feature film destined for a large venue.

Without absolute sales numbers and only relative sales indicators, it’s extremely difficult to discern whether AE HD is having much of a financial impact on the format war. What seems clear is that fans of the genre are discovering the visual advantages of high definition. And if the studio that has captured 80% of the AE HD market is now committed to releasing its products in both formats, we won’t experience the kind of impact that was felt during the VHS versus Betamax format war. Format agnosticism simply prolongs the war.

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