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Blu-ray

I am now employed, as you probably know, but if you did not, there it is. I am now employed, and I'm excited about it. As lovely as that news may be, that's not what I decided to blog about for the first time in over two months. No, I'm writing here on this seldom-viewed website to tell you about my experience with a new consumer-grade technology.

Pursuant to the fact that I am now newly-employed, I was in the Chicago area for my new-hire orientation, which I must say was excellent. Previous employers, especially the one where I supported battle simulations, could take a lesson from the practiced brevity and high-density content that was cheerfully and interestingly delivered over a period of two days.

But again, I digress. Since I was in the area, I arranged with my patient accommodating new employer to let me fly in early and spend the weekend with family at my brother and sister-in-law's house, not far from where I would be staying over the course of the orientation period. This all fit very well with scheduling, and a lovely weekend was had by all. When my brother dropped me off at the hotel, I immediately began to miss him, and got emotional when I had closed the door to the room behind me.

That said, I wanted to talk about Blu-ray, the purported next generation in consumer-level video storage. I honestly found the picture to be a little too good, if you can understand that. The motion was so fluid that I was forced to step out from behind the fourth wall and come to the realization that the robotic smoothness, as if I'm looking through a window and not at a large television set, is actually a little disconcerting, and I would actually like to have the slightly choppy nature of DVD and its predecessors.

Realism is not important, I've decided, when watching movies. It's the same reason I think movies that are projected in 3D are grasping for a level of realism that is demonstrably unnecessary. I'm aware when I watch a movie that the people I see are not really there, and cannot respond to my suggestions at how to disarm the bomb or come to terms with a death. Comedian David Mitchell made an excellent point when he said that people actually dislike being realistically immersed in the settings of the media they consume. A good example of this is sculpture. Sculpture is extremely realistic, and by its nature is far more realistic than painting, yet it is far less popular.

But even with all that in mind, I think I could live with Blu-ray, but for one problem. Intrusive advertisement is rampant. A significant portion of set-top Blu-ray players are wired for internet services like Netflix Streaming, Hulu Plus, or just plain old Youtube. As such, they will take advantage of this internet access to force the user to sit through commercials before they can watch their own movie. As far as I know, there is no setting that allows users to disable these ads.

This is on top of elaborate and patently fluffy animations and menu screwiness, along with Final Fantasy 7-style animations for production houses and distribution companies, which are also ads in themselves. They cannot be skipped or avoided in any way. The aggregate result of these delays is that the "feature," for which the legitimate consumer forked over money to watch cannot be watched until several minutes of ads and menu juggling have been accomplished.

Also added to the delay is the fact that since Blu-ray is a poorly written and implemented technology, there is an actual computer processing period that takes place for the loading of the underlying software that reads and displays the information stored on the disc.

On top of this is the customary, and now completely ignored MPAA/FBI warning about copyright and its legally protected status. I find it especially outrageous that due to the nature of ripped media(ie, illegally obtained digital copies of movies), these warnings are never seen by the people who decide to infringe the copyright. This means that pretty much the only people who have to sit through the display of these warnings are the people who legitimately purchased the disc. So basically, the people who play by the rules are being punished for doing so.

Incidentally, upon a quick check on my roommate's streaming setup, Netflix doesn't stick the FBI warnings into their features either. You just hit play and the movie plays. I agree with most people that physical media is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and that in a short time, people will remember physical media like DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and VHS tapes as something from a bygone era. However, Blu-ray discs and even DVDs are still very much in the mainstream.

It would appear to me that the MPAA is either trying to shape consumer behavior by making their products a pain in the ass to use, or they're just hopelessly out of touch- oblivious to the sensibilities and preferences of normal people. The former seems highly unlikely, given the fact that many movies are still not available on streaming services, so I'm going to bank on the latter.

I'm also probably never going to purchase a physical disc for a movie again, as I'd rather pay just once for a movie than over and over with commercials.

9:01 PM, May 19, 2011

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