New and Changing Technologies of the Motion Picture Industry


Today, the entertainment industry, specifically the movie industry, remains to be one of the most popular industries of our society. With itís high popularity, and attempt to satisfy consumer needs, the industry contains a great deal of competition between corporations. As a result of the high level of competition, the ability to use technological advancement becomes a major factor in reaching success. With the increase of technology, companies are continuously looking to change rather than stabilize, to overcome their competitors.

In the motion picture industry, there are two major areas where technology is changing the industry.

- Internet involvement
- Improvement in film manufacturing

Movie Industry in Cyberspace

The Internet has the greatest affect on the movie industry, It is affecting the industry in many different ways. Standard and Poorís industry analysis points out the fact that time spent in front of a computer screen if overtaking time spent in front of a television screen in most American households. Entertainment companies are taking advantage of the resources and opportunities the World Wide Web has to offer in advertisement, production, and sales. Large Distribution companies, such as Disney, are going about it differently than some of the many smaller production companies. Through technological innovation, Hollywood has reached the cyberworld and is not looking back.

Large distribution companiesí investment in the Internet.
Small production companies merging with networking and communications
Vertical integration
Filmís position on the Internet
3D movies to PC screens
Illegal pirating through Internet.

The large players in the distribution category (ex. Time Warner, Sony Corporation, Universal Studios, Paramount/Viacom, Fox Entertainment, Disney, and Miramax) have the financial stability, and are creating their own Internet access through their own large networks. For instance, Standard and Poorís reports that Disney bought 42% of the Internet networking company Infoseek, and launched its own network.

In order to stay competitive, other large firms followed. Sony Corp, and Time Warner, each took a share of the newly acquired Retail Company, which was formed by Columbia House Co. Each were reported as to owning 37% (Standard and Poorís).

Production and broadcast companies have found the Internet can provide them with many resources to better their success. It is becoming very common for smaller production agencies to merge with large networking and communication systems. Each player in the deal can benefit from the others services. The data networking of the communication companies offers high file transfer speeds that significantly reduce the time and costs of film production, video editing and collaboration time (Business Wire, Oct 11, í99).

On Nov. 19th, 1999, KnightLight Pictures, a full service multimedia and film production company, merged with IVID Communications. IVID provides planning and marketing of products delivered on the Internet and CDROM. Now, with the ability to take itís services on-line, KnightLight Pictures is a full service video and film production company that offers interactive CDROM creation, Web site development, graphic animation, and infomercials, using their own film production tools. "Because there are so many ways for a company to create, package and distribute its message, it can be overwhelming, and as you have a handle on technology, it changes." says KnightLight founder and owner David St. Pe.

Similar mergers have taken place. For instance, Lucent Technologies and Quad International Communications Corporation, a broadband carrier focused on the media and entertainment industries, have recently joined in order to create a similar service to that of KnightLight.

Many new techniques are happening within the industry because of Internet access was attained. Movies can now be seen by the viewerís demand over the Internet. American Film Technologies, Inc., with the assistance of Microcast, has old classics to new releases available on the web. Microcast, the worlds highest capacity turnkey provider of Internet video services, has developed the largest video streaming network, with a current capacity to deliver up to 1,000,000 simultaneous viewers at broadband speed (ENTERTAINMENTWIRE, 3-29-00). AFT has been criticized for bringing color to old classic black and white films, but will likely bring upon more criticism when these films are interrupted by Microcast demanded commercials.

With the collaboration of different types of service providers, it is evident that the movie industry is becoming vertically integrated. Production companies such as KnightLight Pictures understands that their business can benefit from other technological providers. Instead of trying to design their own networking and internet service, St. Pe knows that technology will change very quickly, and during the time spent on trying to get a grip on it, it will soon change to something else.

A new approach to viewing three dimensional movies came about when Dynamic Digital Depth, Inc. (DDD) joined with Wave Pictures to bring giant 3D movies to personal computers via the web. Waveís giant screen 3D movies will be reformatted and able to download using DDDís brand new DeepSee™ plug-in for Apple QuickTime (Business Wire, 3-28-00).

Unfortunately, advancement in technology has had an ill effect on the movie industry as well. With films available on the Internet, the ability to illegally pirate these films has become a concern for the industry. A new video program called ĎDivXí, similar to a MP3 file for audio, enables the computer underground to pass uncopyrighted movies among networks. These movies can be downloaded and saved on CDís. The Motion Picture Association of America, has already started lawsuits against pirating, or offering unauthorized movies over the internet in a plea to save the industry (AP wire, 3-27-00).


Film Production Enhancement

Although it is not as big of a factor as the Internet, and is significantly older in origination, the ever-improving world of production is affecting the movie industry with great magnitude. By technological innovation in special effects and distribution of copies, filmmakers must be aware of the changes that drive the industry in a direction of modernization. More specifically, the main areas are:

Computer generated effects.

As technology increases at an exponential rate, all levels of the supply chain in the movie industry are driven to continually strive for change. No Corporation or firm is large enough, or so financially stable not to worry about being outdone by its competitors. In order to be successful in the vertically integrated industry of film making, specialization in a particular area is very important.


"A computer is like a pencil. It is a really amazing pencil. [But] computers, donít create computer animation any more than a pencil would create a drawing."
                                           -- John Lasseter (Director, V.P., Creative Development at PIXAR)

Using computers to make human like imagery, or special effects, is a tactic thatís been used in film making for many decades. This is no new technology in the movie industry, however, special effects gurus such as George Lucas (Star Wars, Episode One: The Phantom Menace, Deep Impact) and James Cameron (Titanic, Terminator II, True Lies) have taken the computerís role in movies to a higher level. These two have dazzled consumers with imagery of ships, spaceship battles, liquid metal people, and world destroying tidal waves, all through computer generation.

With the movie industry becoming more vertically integrated, many movie production companies are looking to smaller special effect companies who specialize in the area, to perform their duties.

The leading companies include:

Industrial Light & Magic

Rhythm and Hues


Pacific Data Images

Digital Domain

Recent box offices hits such as The Toy Story, and The Matrix, have used special effects that have never been seen in movies. With the increasing ability to use computers in films, movie making analysts look towards the day where movies will be able to be made without actors, or even filming scenes.

Sweeping the home entertainment front, is the creation of digital video disks, called DVDís.
These DVDís add a brighter and sharper picture than video cassettes, and can move from one part of the movie to another much quicker and easier. In 1999, is was reported that three million households in the U.S. had a DVD player instead of a VCR, and that number is projected to triple in 2000 (Standard and Poorís).