Thursday, October 19, 2006

You read it here first

Me, Feb. 2005:
Interestingly, this is happening at the same time as the cost of video production keeps coming down. For Attack of the Clones, Lucas used a prototype digital camera that matched the resolution of the usual film cameras. And this summer, the otherwise-forgettable Sky Captain was done entirely on blue screen.... So what happens when a quality show can be produced by a half-dozen college graduates working out of a storage locker in Mississauga?
Someone much smarter than me, today:
So as technology advances and costs go down, a lot more amateur video will be produced. Economic rent comes from scarcity. It is true that there is only one Tom Cruise, but it is equally true that there are only 24 hours in a day. The more time young people spend watching Lonelygirl15, the less time they will have to watch Mr. Cruise.

I don’t think that the age of the megastar is over. Quite the contrary, there will still be big-budget movies, and stars with drawing power will still command high salaries.

But, at the same time, I believe that there will be a flowering of creative, inexpensive and compelling semiprofessional content available via the Internet. This content will occupy more and more of people’s attention, particularly young people.
Actually, you should really read the whole thing. Fascinating discussion of the role of rents in moviemaking.


adam said...

Actually, I read it from varying folks in the video art scene first, but it's a good point. This is one of the reasons that Google ended up paying $1.6b for YouTube.

I think if the dispersal of technology represents a threat to anyone, it's television more than filmakers, since it more closely competes for the short and varied type content. Still, there are films like Way Down Town, and Me and You and Everyone We Know (check them out, both excellent) which benefitted from being shot on video, and still released in a mainstream movie context. And ultimately if it represents anything, it's a lot more potentially talented people getting their hands on the means to produce and distribute their ideas without the studio middlemen, and I'm not shedding any tears for them.

john said...

Damnit. Why must you insist on deflating my ego? It was so ripe...

Olaf said...


I will not indulge in any movie rent speculation, but I appreciated your self deprication. I had to indulge in a similar backing down on my "Cows worth more than people" post, as a trouble maker McLea made me look positively ignorant...

adam said...

Hey, it was still a good call.

Video technology has been around for about forty years now, and artists picked it up as soon as it showed up, largely because of the same factors that are being talked about here: accessibility, portability, low-cost.
They've also been talking about the democratizing power of video (not necessarily in a political sense, but that applies too) pretty much since it's inception. Of course, it's taking a lot longer than the original theorists were predicting, but that's largely due to a lack of a similarly accessible means of distribution, which the internet and entities like YouTube have finally provided.