I am starting to hate this whole “digital” thing that is happening. Digital being just digital is fine, but unfortunately, digital often means compression. Compression often means loss of quality, therefore, digital often means loss of quality. Theatres in the United States will soon be upgraded to using digital projectors and receiving movies digitally. No specific clues have been given as to what this means, but it is probably safe to assume this means they will be delivered by Internet. This thought suddenly makes me think of blocky, bad YouTube videos, and seeing those on a massive screen. Not a pretty thought. If a film canister is damaged during transit, it is possible for a few frames to be damaged, but the rest lest completely intact. In a digital delivery form, it would require the use of a good verification algorithm (better than a CRC) to validate the files, or else they could be unwatchable. I’m sure they have considered that though, and there will likely be a cute little Windows app, or maybe a custom Linux distribution made to handle that sort of thing to take the burden off of the theatres. They can probably automate the whole thing, like when you order digital prints online to pick them up at the store, no user intervention at all, so you can walk into the theatre and at the scheduled movie start time, watch “File Not Found” appear on the screen when some part of the system fails to do its job properly.
Digital television is a little different. It is possible for the cable company to give you a great stream, or a really suckily compressed stream, on really crappy equipment/software. My digital cable box has developed a habit of restarting itself lately, this wasn’t a problem on analog (although, funny enough, a lot of channels are still analog and I still have to put up with this bullshit).
Digital mediums coming at this stage in human understanding of “art” is a very bad thing. Digital formats loose so much from traditional arts because the formats are badly used. The focus now is on “media delivery” methods and how to make the most profit from it, not on how to bring art to the common person and letting them experience it to its fullest.
DVD is a great technology, the compression is relatively low, and there is a lot of room for the full artistic experience. The same is true of CD. These technologies freed us from lousy analog formats that were badly made. There is a huge difference between DVDs and streamed movies however. DVD uses the digital format to its fullest, not taking short cuts. This is because a DVD is physical. CDs are analog creations, MP3s are digital reinterpretations of that. When played on good equipment, there is a difference between a “ripped” song at under 320 kbps, and a song being played from a real CD. A lot of MP3 stores don’t sell the best possible quality of songs, therefore, cheating the consumer out of the experience, and to make things worse, MP3s take songs out of context. MP3s encourage a move to a single style of music creation, no longer focusing on a cohesive creation. It is like developing a culture where books are purchased a chapter at a time, it might make sense, but the full experience is lost.
Digital is the demise of most forms of art.