Redeeming Digital Copies

Every time I go through movies I have bought and try to redeem the digital copy, I suspect the companies make the process so difficult that no one will actually do it. Companies like the gift card racket because they get the money and recipients hold on to them for far too long. Movie companies charge more for movies with the digital copy and make the process of redeeming them so difficult people will not do it.

Five were UltraViolet and one a Disney. All 6 required going to a different web page. Only one worked with the generic UV redemption page. Each other site had me sign in to UV from it. Two made me create accounts in other services in order to link them to UV. The Disney one was the oddest of all, it gave me a code that gave me Amazon promotional credit but was not clear about that so I had to risk buying the same movie at potentially paying more for the digital copy than I did the physical discs to redeem the code. (It did come across as free.)

I guess this is why I let them pile up for a few months before I go redeem them. An hour of work for six movies.

The Anti-Boycott

Starbucks Cup by Hiro – Kokoro☆Photo

Do boycotts work anymore?

It seems like of late boycotts have returned to the en vogue way of attacking a company or movie with owners or creators one dislikes. But, then people on the other side of the issue see the talk about a boycott and step up their business. If anything, then it seems like the boycott target ends up doing better not worse.

In most cases the target of the boycott was doing okay, but not especially well. People had mostly forgotten it existed. The boycott essentially gives it free publicity. My guess is people who like the business but dislike the stance of the issue will be torn. Some will stop giving it business, some will pull back some, and most will stay about the same. The supporters of the issue will swarm it.

Probably good that I am not a marketer, because I would be willing to dabble with a guerrilla marketing campaign where I poll how people feel and instigate boycotts against my client.

Netflix Content Expiring Jan 1st

Yesterday a friend pointed out Netflix is dropping some content on January 1st. This was in relation to the movie of a book we read for a book club earlier this month. So last night, while watching the movie, I noted through the web site all the movies in my list set to expire by the note “Available until <date>” under the thumbnail. They were:

  • Alice in Wonderland (Jan 4th)
  • Battle for Britain
  • Biloxi Blues
  • Stargate Continuum
  • Stargate: The Ark of Truth
  • Conan the Barbarian (2011)

Netflix dropped Stargate SG-1 a while ago, and I am not far enough into the series to warrant watching either of those movies, so that meant just three more movies to watch by the 1st. That seemed doable, so I planned to this weekend watch the other 3.

Only…

The indicator upon which I depended is inaccurate. I use an app on my Bluray player to watch on my television and going through my list to find these, I found more movies are expiring. “Clue” for instance according to the Bluray app expires on the first but lacks such an indication on the web at all. There are another 13 who I was able to identify this way.

So it is more like 16 to watch. Ugh. Guess I will have to prioritize.

UPDATE: I made a spreadsheet with expiration date, title, Netflix’s presumed rating. Then I ordered it by rating descending. I am watching them in that order. Most are under 2, so maybe this will not be so bad?

Spoilers

Ewww? Sports: I bought my first DVR specifically to record the 2006 World Cup games while at work. I was in my first few months and did not feel like I could afford to take off work to catch all the games I desired. For the 2010, I tuned out of Facebook because I knew lots of people posting live about games. Comments by friends on social media during a game is usually better than the announcers. Unless someone I know is actively posting about a game, I tend not to post anything of my own trying to respect others who might be time shifting the game.

Books and Movies: If asked, I tend to spoil books and movies. I tend to be better about holding myself back for movies newly in theaters or on DVD/Bluray. But if something has been out for a long time, then someone has had plenty of time to consume that story. Maybe they eventually will, but I tend not to save up things. Probably because the longer I wait the less likely I ever will. The exceptions for me tend to be the movie version of books where I watch after reading. The difficulty for me is explaining why someone would or would not want to see something with them feeling like it has not been spoiled.

George R. R. Martin killing off the sympathetic characters is a good example. Some people hate it. Some people love it. It feels unfair not to warn people that it happens in each book. Why someone might like the TV series better without saying anything that happens? Ugh.

Scripted Television: Pretty much both issues of sports and movies apply. I am not very sympathetic regarding shows that have been around for a long time. But I try not to spoil things that are live.

So, I guess people should avoid talking about things they want to see or read around me.

Every Movie Geek Needs His Quotes

GeekDad published a list of top 100 Geek quotes. I happen to like movies and quotes. However, this list seems lame. None of my favorites even made the top ten.

  1. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” Obiwan Kenobi, Star Wars. Of course, I got more attached to this quote when a coworker used this to perplex our boss. I’m sure there are days he regretted hiring so many twenty somethings.
  2. “Half of writing history is hiding the truth.” Mal, Serenity.
  3. “I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you. And I wish to go on… hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her. Marooned for all eternity, in the center of a dead planet… buried alive. Buried alive.” Khan Noonien Singh, ST:TWOK
  4. “I must not fear. / Fear is the mind-killer. / Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. / I will face my fear. / I will permit it to pass over me and through me. / And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. / Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. / Only I will remain.” – Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear, Dune
  5. “How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life, wouldn’t you say?” Captain James T. Kirk, ST:TWOK
  6. “Do or do not. There is no try.” Yoda, SW:TESB. Yes, I have a teeshirt about this.
  7. “Raspberry. There’s only one man who would dare give me the raspberry: Lone Star!” Dark Helmet, Spaceballs.

What are your favorite movie quotes?

Feedback Loops

Remakes don’t scare me. Some are good. Some are bad. 

The thing to remember is, “Its just a movie.” The world won’t end over a poor movie. There’s always another one in a few weeks to either like or hate. If it stands up to the test of time, then you’ll buy the Blue-ray and next three formats over the next 30 years. If not, then just ignore it ever existed… Much like I’ve done with Superman III, Superman IV, Star Trek The Final Frontier, and hundreds of other movies.

Getting worked up over change? Not worth it.

Quibblers would have kept “Star Trek” more like its old self. Quibblers inhibit revolution. Quibblers would deny the basic law of forward motion in pop culture:

If you love something, they will remake it.

But if you really love it, you will set it free, and let them.

The Trouble With Quibbles

Film makers should keep in mind, the types of people involved in  fads: connectors, mavens, salesperson. Fans are mavens. People are going to trust the opinion of these fans. So if the fans’ concerns are just a few quibbles but still an endorsement, then the general public will flock to the movie. If these quibbles amount to wide rejection of the movie by the existing fans, then the general public will mostly stay away from it.

Quibbles are not really the issue. Endorsements are. 

I think you missed that there is a life-cycle to most such endeavors, and feedback is very useful at specific times, and disruptive (in a bad way) at others.

So, the problem with “fan feedback” non-stop is that they tend to fall into a mob mentality, off being “trolls” about any innovation. But, that said, remember that early forms of the Batman movie with the Heath L Joker was shown to fans (at a Comic Con) to get feedback on the style and whether too over the top. The feedback was used to find the balance and deal with the nature of the ending. Fans were given leaks and teasers (semi-trailers) along the way as well, but the mob rule was not allowed not hound the people making it.

That said, what makes a movie work or not is very different from what made its source material work. The reason the Spiderman movies worked for a large audience who knew nothing about the comics had a lot to do with the simpler nature of the comics. Batman has always been more complex in the psychology of its heroes and villains, as much by what does not happen as what does. Watchman is trickier given its narrative model and how much it connected with its time (Cold War, etc).

— PaulK
The Downside of Feedback

Design by committee sucks. So fans should not take over the process. However, total rejection of fan criticisms probably will result in rejection by the fans and slow sales.

The Digital Switch

The Long Tail claims consumers, given more options, will reflect their widely varied interests. Physical stores cannot fill all of the demand, so bytes stored on disk are the fastest, cheapest method for getting stuff to consumers. We see a mostly example of this shift in the shift to digital music.

Vinyl records were the first physical music media form I used. Later, cassette tapes (1980s) and compact disc (1990s) achieved dominance. In 2001, I started the transition to digital music. There were some stumbles along the way because of technology changes and trusting vendors saying Digital Rights Management is good for consumers. At present, I only listen to digital music when using my own collection.

Digital video seems more complicated. Web sites streaming and on-demand television have the potential to fit the Long Tail model where consumers have access to insanely varied content when they want it. DVRs neither fix the when (just shift the airing to another time) or the insanely varied content. Movie rental distributors like Blockbuster and Netflix are moving toward distributing digital movies and TV shows in setups similar to on-demand. Nothing has even come close to winning.

Digital books may yet get some traction. Computers screens cause eye strain. Laptops don’t feel like a book. PDAs, Blackberrys, and other handhelds with small screens require a ton of scrolling. A recent solution to this is “epaper” which doesn’t constantly refresh. The Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Sony Reader are the biggest players. (The Long Tail is not available for the Kindle but is for the Reader. WTH?)

Remaining issues for me:

  1. Ownership is dying.
    • I really like the idea of playing music on my iPod or from CDs. I play DVDs on my computer because I can’t play my DVR stuff in a hotel. So streaming and on-demand only solutions bother me as long-term solutions. If it is easy for distributors to store it because it is just bytes, then it is easy for me to do so as well.
    • I have books from 20 years ago I can still read. Technology changes too much to depend on something I buy today working tomorrow. So maybe “renting” is a way better approach for digital media?
  2. The black markets for music and movies prove consumers want everything any time. Companies must embrace consumer demand and make it easier for consumers or suffer. I think companies changing to accommodate consumer demand is the only reason the music companies have survived. Litigation cannot solve it.
  3. Hardware investment gets expensive every few years.

My solution? Wait and see.

Virtual Doctoral Graduate Student

People think I am smart because I read hard stuff. Okay, maybe it takes a special breed to read a book by academics on applying game theory to every day life. I read hard stuff because the easy stuff doesn’t take my mind off things.

Today, two people asked me if I am a doctoral student.

Also, I struck Blade Runner off my list as a great movie because I was disgusted by it missing all the really cool stuff in the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Read moreVirtual Doctoral Graduate Student

Blind Not Insane

The National Federation of the Blind is upset about a movie portraying people who are blind as behaving badly.

Pyyhkala, 36, of Boston, said he has read the book and seen parts of the film. He said his grievances stem from the film’s potential to sway public attitude about blindness. He said the movie exacerbates stereotypes and gives false information to uninformed viewers. [Link] (Since starting this post now requires a login?)

I haven’t seen the film or read the book, but the trailer for the films shows the people being put into quarrantine for a medical epidemic where people go blind. Stories generally portray people as acting incompetent and fearful when they are trapped in an unfamiliar situation. The whole point is to create an environment whereby a person, the hero or heroine, who is the bright light of reason and to whom everyone else appeals can rise to the challenge.

Blindness happens to use people who are blind, most likely because a the author was trying to be creative and use something readers would find new. Jose Saramago: “Stupidity doesn’t choose between the blind and the non-blind.” [Link]

Chris Danielsen, a national federation spokesman, said while he understands that the film plays on the public’s fear of sudden blindness, the idea that loss of sight is equal to incompetence and immorality is “outrageous” and “vicious.” Everyday tasks like getting dressed and using the bathroom do not become impossible if a person loses their sight, Danielsen said.

Works of fiction do not depict reality. Otherwise… they would not be fiction. Stop giving movies more meaning than they actually have. Otherwise, you give them power they didn’t already have.

The Catholic Church’s opposition to the Golden Compass made me read the book and go see the movie (latter was awful). I wouldn’t have cared otherwise. Denouncing it made me wonder what they had to fear from something so silly as a book and movie. After seeing the trailer, I wasn’t interested in Blindness. After reading about the opposition, I am interested. I don’t have much luck with movies from books lately, so I may go book first.