I recently read with interest that Sony and Panasonic are now working on the successor to blu-ray, and a next gen optical disc.
As a huge fan of Blu-ray I can see this being quite a sensible move. Despite the amazing opportunities of having everything cloud-based it still doesn’t deliver the full experience of a well-encoded disc.
It’s all about the quality
Despite thoroughly enjoying binge-watching episodes of House of Cards on Netflix, there was still a nagging voice in the back of my head that said the audio and video although being presented in fairly decent quality weren’t up there with the best Blu-Rays in my collection.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no cinephile audiovisual snob, but if I’m not hearing the nuances of a DTS master audio mix feel that I’m missing out. Much in the same way I listen to most of my music now on iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud for convenience, I’ll buy content on CD or FLAC if I really want to listen to it as intended.
The 4K difference
So what’s the driver here? Well 4K . Effectively blu-ray doesn’t quite have the storage capacity to deliver the huge increase in resolution. I’m certain new video codecs will help, but the demands of new content and video games will place ever greater pressures on storage space.
Having seen an 8K super hi-vision demonstration featuring Olympics footage last year and being blown away, I can’t see the cloud delivering ultra high resolution video and 22 channel audio unless there’s a paradigm shift in internet connectivity in the next decade. As large parts of the UK struggle to get a 8mbps connection would suggest that this is an unlikely prospect for many years.
But what about the cloud?
Cloud-based content does offer a key benefit in the rich analytic data it provides, and this drives pretty much everything Netflix do including commissioning of original shows. Disc-based media doesn’t offer this instant audience feedback, so is less tempting to producers as there’s more risk associated and no big data to mine.
So who’s it aimed at?
Home cinema enthusiasts and people requiring unusually high levels of storage (photographers, archivists, etc).
Whatever happens, at least for the next few years I’d suggest that the reports of the demise of optical media have been exaggerated.