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Patience — waiting for films to start
Balgove
tobyaw
I enjoy watching films. Over the years I’ve bought more than my fair share of video tapes, laser discs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. But the days of physical media are over for me. I’m now happy to exist in a world of Netflix and iTunes, where I can stream or download films to my various devices, and without shelves full of dusty boxes.

Now that iTunes allows purchased films to be re-downloaded as desired, it seems like a practical way to buy films. The immediacy of downloaded content beats mail-ordering discs, and to my eyes the 1080p downloads compare reasonably with 1080p from a Blu-ray.

In practical terms, we have nine or ten devices in the house that can play Netflix or iTunes media, compared to the single Blu-ray player connected to the TV. This is particularly useful when Beth develops cinematic obsessions. (How many times can an eight-year-old watch The Lion King in a weekend? How many times do we want to watch it?)

But more importantly, I have developed an intolerance for the preambles and introductory material that pervades films on physical media. Why on earth would I want to watch adverts, trailers, copyright warnings, menu loading screens, or, for that matter, use menus that look like 1990s multimedia presentations? When I want to watch a film, I want to get the film as quickly and painlessly as possible, without hassle or interruption.

We wouldn’t tolerate record companies putting guff like that at the start of CDs, so why do we put up with it with films?

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I've seen more than a few people commenting they switched to pirated content because of the irritating piracy warnings at the start of purchased DVDs... Not entirely serious, I imagine, but I do have some sympathies: much better to download it instead, legally or otherwise!

I suppose the origins will be a slippery slope started when VHS tapes of films came with trailers for other films at the start, like cinema presentations did - something that never really applied to music. CDs brought their own unwanted bundling, of course: remember one advantage of iTunes over CDs was the ability to buy the one or tracks you really wanted, rather than being forced to pay for an entire album.

As somebody who considers an album to be the natural unit of music purchase and consumption, the facility to purchase individual tracks is entirely irrelevant!

But you're not the only consumer in the world. The way you (and mostly I) consumer music is very different from a significant proportion of other people. I remember reading a review of an early-ish micro music player which had the criticism that the display wasn't big enough to fit the track information on. One of the replies was along the lines of "but I never use anything except random selection and if I'm not in the mood for what comes up I just hit skip for the next random track". Even without the fact that my media player includes audio plays as well as music files (I've once ended up having to use it as an alarm clock which only uses random selection and luckily it randomly selected "Buster" which starts with a police siren rather than one of the really quiet-starting audio plays) I prefer not just album selection but playlists (all album-sequences).

For quite a lot of folks, though, they prefer a mix of single tracks rather than albums. THey should be able to buy what they want rather than being forced to buy things they don't want just to get what they do. It's a violation of free market principles to allow that kind of forcing.

I didn’t mean to suggest that online shops shouldn’t sell individual tracks; only that their doing so holds no interest to me.

But I’m not sure that James’ suggestion that unwanted trailers on VHS tapes have a parallel to having to buy a whole album of music in order to get certain tracks; in many cases albums are designed or even created as a single entity. The artistic intent in many forms of music works at the level of groups of tracks, whereas few could argue that adverts before a film are part of that film.

OK, we agree on this. Sorry for my misunderstanding of your statement.
There is an odd US view of TV, though. I remember seeing a statement about some deal APple had made with a TV studio/distributor (can't remember which) where the report talked about "hour long shows cut down to 45 minutes by removing the adverts". To me, US drama shows in the modern era have always been about 43 minutes long (older ones were 50 minutes, such as Ster Trek: TOS). THe idea that these shows are "hour long" but then shortened to 45 minutes by taking something away just struck me as a very odd viewpoint.
One of the reasons I am opposed to DRM is the abuse that content providers of DVDs made of the "compulsory play copyright warning" functionality that they insisted be included in the DVD standard. The standard said that this was the ONLY use that could be made of this but then as you say quite a few started putting other things in. Adverts are particularly annoying, but I get irritated even by the logos of the production/distribution companies. 2 Entertain (who have a universal license for BBC material in Region 2 so far as I can tell, i.e. they get to distribute all BBC Worldwide material in Region 2) are particularly bad because they have a long 2 Entertain intro, followed by a medium length BBC intro, all on the no-escape code. With this examples, claims that the content companies won't ever abuse the DRM systems they're demanding are just laughable.

The parallel I was noting was more the new ability to buy individual tracks of music, in the same way that downloaded video content is free from the "can't skip this" nuisanceware.

I would love for DVD manufacturers to have responded to the code misuse by saying "ok, the code is being misused for promotional purposes, hence will be disregarded from now on". Come to think of it, though, I now play DVDs by ripping them onto the Mac Mini under the TV rather than using any "DVD player" at all, so I can't remember the last time anything could have tried to impose non-skip content anyway...

I started that for entirely practical reasons, though benefits like this are welcome: Apple's DVD players are rather cheap nasty Panasonic ones with very short lives and unhelpful warranty repairs which involve being without the machine for a week or more, so I have a growing collection of Apple machines with no working optical device. This brought it home just how little use I have for such a drive anyway these days: my last three operating systems were - legally - downloaded (OS X Lion, Snow Lion, Windows 8), as is virtually all my software these days.

One thing I've noticed with Netflix et al, is that sometimes the lipsynch goes....

Haven't had that problem, but we usually use the Apple TV connected to the telly, or watch on iOS devices. Maybe it is the client software?

Could be. But certainly itunes does it on my computer, as well as Netlix (more rarely) on the TV

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