At The Movies: Before the Internet

The Internet has changed the way we think about movies. Now, in an instant, nearly anything we want to know about a movie is at our fingertips. Nearly anything we want to know about a movie shown in the past is just a few keystrokes away.

Before the Internet, to learn about a new movie coming out we had to
• See a movie trailer on TV
• Watch a number of trailers at the movies before the main attraction
• Read about the movie in the newspaper’s tiny blurb
• Read reviews of movies in various publications
• Watch Siskel & Ebert’s Sneak Preview (later called At The Movies) on TV
• Read the church bulletin movie rating (as we did as kids) and then had to make the case for our movie of choice citing that the church would ban Bambi if it were able!

Now, with the Internet, not only can we watch an unlimited number of movie trailers, we can watch complete movies on our computer screen. Or, we can stream it to our large screens. Today, anything we want to know about a flick is available. We can read reviews from a variety of sources. We can learn all about the cast of a given show and find out what other roles they have performed in their career.

Thanks to the Internet, we can search to see what movie theaters are in our area. (Growing up in a suburb of Chicago, there were about four movie theater options within a relatively short drive from our house. One theater was in walking distance. Back then, you paid for your movie ticket and got in to see one — maybe two shows– if a Saturday matinee.) You nearly always stood in line because there was only one movie being shown at the theater. Today, most theaters are multi-plex with 6, 10, 14, 24 or more smaller theaters under one roof! This way, many movies are shown at slightly adjusted intervals to keep the ebb & flow of people fairly steady.

Today, we can find the theater we want to go to, see how long the show is, how much the show costs, all of the times it is playing in a day and which show might be the matinee- the one available at a discounted price. We can get their Motion Picture Association of America rating: G, PG, PG-13, R (and when I was a kid, X) mostly used by parents to supervise what their kids watch. If the movie we want to see is showing at an inconvenient time for us, we can see the details of every other movie showing at this same theater. In many cases, you can play the movie trailer right there on the theater site.

Thanks to the Internet, many movie houses let you buy advance tickets so we don’t have to wait in line-ever! How terrific is this? Pretty awesome.

Video Streaming and Hollywood Studios

What did the writer’s strike in 2007 mean? Were the writers just hungry for additional capital for their skills?

Certainly there are some that think so, but the primary reason for the walk out had to do with an understanding that video streaming on the Internet caused a wrinkle in their contract.

In most cases Hollywood writers are not granted payment for video streaming of content they helped to create.

As more and more content is made available online the writers felt that they needed to do something to help establish a precedent that would allow them to receive an equitable share of proceeds for video stream downloads.

Now that movies and a host of television shows are becoming available to download via the Internet many speculate that the traditional television and computer will mesh into a singular unit. Not quite the WebTV of the past, but certainly a highly interactive experience that blends the connectivity of the Internet with the quality if Hi-def TV.

This is the world writers saw prior to their strike. They understood that there may be ‘gold in them thar computers’ but they weren’t being offered a paycheck for the work they contributed to mining that gold.

Television and movie execs said it was premature to begin awarding writers funds because they just weren’t sure what impact video streaming downloads would have on earnings.

The writers seemed to understand there is a fear of the unknown and that each side will react to the issue in their own way. The studios wanted to take a wait and see attitude while the writers were interested in ironing out details prior to a more concerted push toward online video streaming of popular media.

The creativity needed in video production is developed foundationally from the writers who develop plot twists and develop great stories while the studio executives seek to market the work for consumption by the general public.

It would seem apparent that the studios are excited about the prospect of fee based or advertising supported video streaming downloads. It could be argued that the studios have the most to gain from the shift in program availability.

Is it possible studio execs are forgetting the talented group of writers that help move the shows along? The writer’s obviously felt slighted and their strike was a call to the studios to help find a place of equality in the brave new world of video streaming.

Of course there is always a more organic form of video streaming that does not cost anything to view. These videos can be downloaded through large video sharing sites like YouTube.

While there is merit to the equality of professional video streaming visual consumers will still be able to find amusing, entertaining and educational video streams to meet their needs.

As video streaming concepts continue to diversify it is important to remember that the Internet made it possible (and even cool) for the average citizen to become their own video producer, writer and star. There may not be any pay involved, but many amateur video streams are gaining a significant following.

Easily Stream Online Movies to Your Big Screen TV

Did you know that you can finally stream online content, like movies or you tube videos to your large screen TV without using a computer or having to buy some special box designed to do this? The internet TVs are out now as well as a new line of Blu-ray players that will do this for you as long as you have a broadband fast connection.

There are about 20 TVs selling for around $1000 and a half dozen Blu-ray players for around $150 that will stream online movies. All the newer TVs hitting the market will soon have the internet streaming feature and will be coming out sometime this year. And some tech people predict that all the newer Blu-ray players will have it on all their models. They will include this feature on the lower priced models too.

There are other electronic devices like the popular game boxes on the market that also have internet streaming features.

While one of these TVs or Blu-ray players don’t offer a full internet browser that can go anywhere on the net, it will allow the streaming of movies and TV programs from several online companies. You can watch videos from YouTube, news, sports, and more from Yahoo and watch some digital photos stored at selected online sites or enjoy music from internet radio stations. Of course movies and TV episodes will charge for a subscription or may be pay per view.

Streaming video is easy to setup for use on either the TV or Blu-ray player. Most services will give a good quality picture but don’t expect it to equal an HD Blu-ray disc.

When you are looking to upgrade your DVD player to a Blu-ray player you should consider one of the internet capable models or one that comes in a home theater bundle. The DVD players will get the same internet content as the TVs do. The benefit of going it this way is you get to tweak or adjust the TVs settings from receiving the content from a DVD player.

When getting a Blu-ray player for internet content look for a BD-live model. These models require a broadband connection but some also come with wi-fi which you can tap off your houses wi-fi signal. It’s worth the extra money if you can go this way and you don’t have a broadband cable connection where your entertainment system is setup.

Also be aware that each brand of TV or Blu-ray player has partnered with a specific streaming service. Your content will vary, so look for the services you’d like to have and then buy the player that carries them.

Once you hook up your TV or Blu-ray player to your network you’ll use your remote to to get to your apps. You’ll see some icons or widgets appear at the bottom of your screen. This is similar to widgets or icons on your computer but will be for the services that came with your device.

You will have thousands of movies at your fingertips. You can browse a library and order with just a few clicks. Fees vary but are pretty much the same as driving to your local video store. And no late fees! Some services offer a monthly fee, others with unlimited services.

Picture quality may be like standard definition and high def streams are more like DVD quality. As the equipment hits the market more and more we can also expect the services to improve in the not too distant future.