Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pornography and Early Adapters

by Ken Houghton

There's an apocryphal sex-over-the-internet encounter which well
highlights the central issue of whether producers
should href="">Use
High Definition in Making X-Rated Films. There are some
additional costs:
The studios said their
experience using the technology gives them an advantage in
understanding how to cope with the mixed blessing ofhypercrisp images. Their techniques include using postproduction tools that let them digitally soften the actors' skin tone.

"It takes away the blemishes and the pits and harshness and makes it look like they have baby skin," said the director known as Joone,
who made "Pirates," one of the industry’s top-selling videos. It will
be available this month in high-definition.

My viewer's opinion is reflected by actress/writer/director Stormy Daniels's comment:
'I'm not 100 percent sure why anyone would want to see their porn in HD," she said.

But that's for aesthetes and connoisseurs of the porn market, which I don't pretend to be.

is interesting is that Sony may be making the same mistake now that it
did with the VHS/Beta battles, lo those many years ago:
The pornographers’ progress with HD may also be somewhat slowed by Sony, one of the main backers of the Blu-ray
high-definition disc format. Sony said last week that, in keeping with
a longstanding policy, it would not mass-produce pornographic videos on
behalf of the movie makers.

The decision has forced pornographers to use the competing HD-DVD format or, in some cases, to find companies other than Sony that can manufacture copies of Blu-ray movies.

inevitable result of this is to href="">drive that
segment of the industry to Sony's competitors:
If you thought all the Blu-ray and HD
DVD action was at the Consumer Electronics Show, then obviously you
didn't visit the show-next-door, the Adult Entertainment Expo,
sponsored by Adult Video News.

There, where at least three production houses touted HD DVD, was not a Blu-ray logo in sight.

have already reported that Digital Playground, one of the most highly
regarded producer of adult videos, recently shifted loyalties fromBlu-ray to HD DVD.

As one of the purveyors notes, not only is Blu-ray more restricted, it also has a higher marginal cost:
[Tom] Funk [principal of HighDefXXX] speculates that Digital Playground simply could not find a facility that would replicate porn on Blu-ray
discs. "Most replication services are either owned by Sony or have ties
to Disney," he says. Neither organization, it seems, wants to tarnish
its family-friendly reputation by cranking out dirty movies.

In the end, though, he says it boils down to cost. Blu-ray movies are considerably more expensive to produce in part because Blu-ray production requires brand new equipment, while HD DVD discs can be produced by simply upgrading existing DVD replication gear.

Even those who initially saw advantages to Blu-Ray switched to HD DVD:
Last year, I spoke with Digital Playground founder Joone--that's the whole name, just like Cher--after reading that his company would support Blu-ray.

"First and foremost," he said during the interview, "you get more space with Blu-ray. You usually run out. A person could buy a DVD, and there might be four movies on it. They could just pay to unlock them."

At the time, he also cited the security of Blu-ray, supposedly superior to HD DVD.

Yet, Digital Playground just announced its first four HD titles, and they're all in HD DVD.

while we might be willing to consider the porn market marginal, its
demographics resemble the target of all those classic-rock stations:
$4.28 billion worth of adult videos were sold or rented in 2005,
according to Adult Video News. About 1 billion adult videos were rented
in 2005. And statistics show that there is affluence among porn
aficionados. Some 35% of them have incomes over $75,000. That's enough
to buy a high-def DVD player or two.

February UPDATE: Newsweek, in a "web exclusive," "discovers" that href="">privately-held
companies may exaggerate their revenue claims, and leverages
this to claim that href="">HD DVD's competitive advantage will not be enough.

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