Now I can get to Kevin Kelly’s State of Cinema Address. Kelly isn’t a movie person. He’s a technology geek, and he writes about technology. Since I also write about technology (it pays better than Bayflicks–but then, so does flipping burgers), I found this talk especially interesting. Kelly is best known for founding The Well and co-foundingWired Magazine.
This summary skips a lot.
He began by pointing out his outsider status, then hit us with an interesting statistic. More people see movies in airplanes than in theaters.
The point was that people watch movies in all sorts of places, and that the experience of watching them is diversifying. “For a long time, there were two screens: Movies and TV.– Now they’re diverging, becoming less distinguished, but they’re also getting more complicated. TV screens and computer screens are getting larger, but people are also watching movies, “much to my surprise,– on handheld devices. Screens are going to continue to get smaller, fitting on your eyeglasses, and larger, covering buildings.
Will people continue to go to movie theaters? Kelly felt that commercial theaters will remain one technological step ahead of home theaters, with 3D being the next big thing. He also pointed out other reasons. In “places like India, people go to theaters because they have air conditioning.– (Later, in the Q&A session, he acknowledged the communal experience as another draw.)
Running times will also get more elastic as distribution options open up. He mentioned Youtube, which caused an outburst in very short movies, and TV series like Lost as a very long-form film. He saw home video as making longer films possible. “When you can go back and look at what you want, the 100-hour film is possible.–
Writers, he pointed out, use the same tools whether professional or amateur, and he sees cinema going in that direction, predicting HD video on cell phones in a few years. He acknowledged, however, that pros will probably always have better equipment.
He talked a bit about getting paid for your work in a world where “Anything that can be copied will be copied.– Arguing that “Wherever attention flows, money will follow,– he offered some ways that artists can make money when their work is a free download, including immediacy (you get it quicker if you buy it), authenticity (you can be sure you’re getting the original), and embodiment (you download the recording for free, but you pay to see the concert).
He pointed out that the Web, thought an impractical dream over 5,000 days ago, has changed our lives utterly. New technologies will do the same thing.
During the Q&A, someone asked about the future of film–not as an art or a business but as a physical medium. He felt it was dying at “I say good riddance to film. I’m so happy that [everything is going] digital.–