What significance does the continuing development of digital media technology have for media institutions and audiences?

What significance does the continuing development of digital media technology have for media institutions and audiences?

The continuing development of digital media technology has a huge significance on media institutions and audiences. The film industry is constantly changing and adapting in order to find new ways to distribute their product. For instance, in recent years companies have been introducing an online streaming platform, which gives the viewer the option to purchase the movie and stream or download that film directly to their computer at home, or even to their smartphone or device. This has saved distributors millions as instead of sourcing materials for packaging for a large fee, then going through the production stage of creating the actual media disc, they can just send out a single file from a computer and still release and sell their product to the same amount of people as they would off with a physical Digital Disc release. This is the same with new cinema releases as now distributors don’t need to process a reel of film, they just send the production file computer to computer, this also removes the limit on distribution distance as in the past, a dozen film reel would have been shared and posted around the country. Now all they need to receive a new release is an internet connection and a computer. This pushes the view that “old” media such as DVD’s are in decline as the large push towards new viewing platforms are slowly diminishing the need for old media. This could be agreed and disagreed with the older generation, however the younger generation would believe that old media is in decline as they have found different, more convenient platforms in which to purchase or view media productions.

This “wave” of new technology which companies are adopting is pushing the old media out of the industry effectively making it de-funct. This example can be applied to the Pixar and Disney’s history and use of 2D to 3D animation. Disney released popular productions such as Dumbo with all of the animation being created by traditional hand drawn animators rather than more modern medians such as computer animations. 2D animation had been used by Disney as it was the industry standard in animation, the move to 3D or CG animation or graphics started during the 70’s as traditional animation had reached a standstill, this is where technology such as CG animation had taken over. The introduction of new editing platforms such as Tween and RenderMan brought along shorts like Tin Toy, The success of these Pixar shorts gave Disney belief in the commercial validity of CG animation as early productions from Pixar had yielded an incredibly positive response from the public, Disney couldn’t avoid the fact that the public wanted to see animated films which used the new technology, Which was a huge motive for Disney when they had decided they wanted to pair with Pixar to create full length feature films, with everything being animated with CG animation. This is a good example of successful convergence as both companies benefit from each other’s existence. With Disney’s strong corporate background, Pixar could use Disney’s distribution resources to fully make the most of Disney’s name, and Disney can reap the benefits of Pixar’s natural success capitalize their own financial gains from each successful Pixar release.

 

The natural example of synergy is also apparent when you look at Pixar and Disney’s convergence as Pixar gets the artistic and creative credit which further reinforces their name in the industry, and Disney can gain from Pixar’s success as the release of another hit from a Pixar release which bears the Disney trademark really boosts Disney’s publicity as they are now always associated with Pixar and its success.

New technology isn’t always welcomed in the media industry as it does sometimes forces a company to re-invest millions to reach the same level as their competitors, this financial risk can affect a company’s future, if the investment doesn’t reap overall profit the company has lost most of their money in a dead technology. An example of a company not taking this risk can be seen in Disney’s history as they had produced Tron, a short CG animated film which was a staff production which was never destined to be released to the public, as it was only a test to see what CG animation could bring to the world of animation. An early pioneer in CG animation John Lasseter, had pitched the idea to Disney to create a full length feature film created with CG animation, Disney didn’t see financial validity in the use of CG animation and had shunned the very idea that CG would take over the use of traditional animation. This re-investment in new technology however did benefit Disney in the end, as they now see 3D animations financial worth and trust Pixar to develop new versions of RenderMan, which is the software that produces all of the new releases created by Pixar.

This surge of new technology has made the process of creating a new production cheap and fast, which is in the best interest of a big conglomerate like Disney, they can even reduce the cost of distribution as they can release a production straight to online streaming, cutting out the need for a physical object like a tape or disc. New technology has also made it incredibly easy for the public to start producing independent media productions; even with highbrow software such as RenderMan, such highly renowned software created directly from Pixar is available for public release, anyone with a half decent computer can download this software for a small fee and create their very own animation which would could be rendered to produce same aesthetic quality as a Pixar production. This is also the case with film productions as technology like cameras are getting better and cheaper at a staggering rate. A camera that would have been considered “high-end” in the 1980’s, a quality equivalent is now used on a modern smart phone for a fraction of the price, even editing software like Sony Vegas and FinalCut can be purchased for public use. Even recently, a simpler version of editing software can now be purchased as an app on a smartphone or smart device, this type of technological convergence is now used in most cameras and smart devices, which makes it incredibly easy for the public to create their own production. Even distribution of their production isn’t a difficult process as viral video sites like YouTube, Vimeo and DailyMotion are now an incredibly effective and flexible way of releasing a production to the world. This has essentially “levelled the field” as a single person can create something of similar aesthetic quality for a fraction of the price of a feature film.

 

Alex Lee

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