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Video Podcasts and High-def

April 5, 2007

An interesting thing has happened as a result of the trend to download video (TV, movies, video podcasts) that has coincided with the long anticipated popularity of high-definition television.  Any of you that already receive video ligitimately or illegitimately from an online source are well aware that  the current state of broadband makes downloading multiple gigabytes a bit of a chore. It can be done, but that little messages that tells you that you have a couple of days to wait, can be discouraging.  Things like Bittorent technology can provide you with the speed produced by a frenzy of downloaders all working together, but this only works with particularly popular downloads (it can be stunning when it works).  Fact is, though, I haven’t even considered the concept of downloading a feature-length film in HD, as that is just a step beyond what is really feasible, file-size-wise.  This creates an interesting situation, however … while film producers are eager to make HD DVDs, and providers are eager to sell them over the web, not many people want to download these things.  iTunes music store, which seems to be one of the most common places that people go to find such things (you can also download them to your Xbox from some microsoft-based service) is currently providing HD movies at a relatively low level of HD (640p?) in order to make downloading manageable.  What’s interesting, is that people who produce relatively short pieces are much more capable of taking advatange of this technology because a truly HD film that is one-tenth of the length of a feature film can be downloaded.  This means that makers of relatively small-time productions have the ability to provide their product with better quality and increased convenience when compared to their rather well-funded and powerful Hollywood competition.  Of course, when these things are video podcasts, they are also free.  In  a strange twist, podcasters are madly getting HD cameras (which have also become cheap) to catch up with this trend, and those who already produce in HD, can’t distribute over the ‘Net.  (By the way, this phenomenon is retricted to the delivery of HD by web … you can still get it streamed to you via cable … but, if you’re like me, that is becoming less appealing as time goes by … hint, cable packages drive me nuts and I won’t play that game).

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