Society changes in direct and rapid response to the evolution of technology in general and the internet in particular. We launch an occasional series of blog articles about health, education, employment, transport, entertainment, defence, sport, finance and policing, all areas under exponential change pressure through technology.
The Entertainment Industry
The business of entertaining people has always been at the forefront of the latest technology. From limelights via electric switchboards and dimmers to digital special effects, video and hi-def pixels, the revolution has been continuous. It still is.
And as the medium changes (evolves), the types of entertainment that people want, change with it. Traditional theatre, concerts and street theatre is still popular, but very often they draw on the latest effects, sounds, images, illusions and simulations that add to the human efforts.
The instant downloading of songs the moment they are sung on The X Factor for instance, shows just how far audiences expect things at once, easily cheaply, from their own homes and passable on to somebody else who is a ‘friend’ or who ‘likes’ what they like. The streaming of movies (eg Lovefilm and Netflix) is growing rapidly.
With the confluence of iPad devices, The Cloud and the availability of cheap, effective cameras, the merging/fusion/integration of advertising and entertainment and televisions, devices and computers, G4 and beyond … the audiences of tomorrow (both real and virtual) ain’t seen nothing yet.
3D in the movies is well established, if the craze for it has subsided somewhat. The point is that the technology of it is now part of the landscape, and even in home cinema systems (integrated with other household devices), 3D is just one of a huge range of forms available to people.
Contemporary gaming is part of this too. Nintendo’s 3DS, to take just one example, is beyond merely a gaming device, it is a whole entertainment system. It is expected, it is technology meeting entertainment. Even without 3D, or 3D in all smartphones yet, the demand for better high resolution imagery grows exponentially.
Film cameras used to take 4 people to operate, with a sound operative included. Now that is one person, if anybody at all. The consequential impact on job availability is as enormous as in this industry as any other.
The Age of the Common Artistic Creator
With technology, almost anybody can be a film maker, actor and director (look at the phenomenal growth of YouTube, for instance) with their own ideas, friends/families catapulted into 15 minutes of fame through widely available and affordable technology.
There are writing programmes that turn people into formula novelists; or photo-manipulation, mash-up artists. Anybody can alter reality in a film or screen drama, through technology. Anybody can improve their ghastly singing so that they sound professional. Even the performing greats who may well be able to sing, can be disguised out of recognition by sound manipulation in concert, as part of the overall magic show of live performance these days.
The worship of modern celebrity has been exacerbated by the technology that puts these people constantly before us in person or or on screen, doing everything from acting, spouting off, cooking or travelling the globe. We feel we know these ‘favourite stars’ because they are so available.
There are many issues that technology raises in the wider entertainment business, issues without immediate answers, but issues that affect the future of what we watch and enjoy.
1. Increased user-generated content affects the entertainment world as well, from rapid circulations of responses to performances to coming up with ideas/materials for performances. This looks set to increase as crowd sourcing takes off and more events are created from evidence, first-hand witnessing and simply public’s views and ideas.
2. The rapid push of on-demand services in entertainment, the technology takes consumers past simple pay-per-view options to give people what they want when they want. The days of totally personalised TV viewing are not far off, and are logical since the arrival of the ability to freeze live TV, replay it and watch programmes to suit customers rather than broadcasters.
3. The special effects industry and computer generated imagery (CGI) goes on apace, adding new quite literally amazing things. Many have speculated that the days of the actual physical performer may be numbered, but it’s probably that humans will always be needed. But what is done to their faces, bodies and voices through technology is but beginning.
4. Keeping up with copyright and intellectual rights ownership matters will continue to trouble the industry. Every since photocopying made it easy to steal somebody’s else’s written or drawn work, the ability to replicate art, literature, ideas, songs and music and whole movies has just got easier. Nowadays, it is called ‘sharing’, a name that gives it an aura of respectability and worthiness, that ‘stealing’ doesn’t.
5. The modern way is from the bottom-up. Consumers now dictate the entertainment agenda. Going are the years of film, music studio bosses deciding who will be famous, who will issue what and when. on DVD or album. Now streaming is dissolving the old business models and new, more fragmented, fluid ones are emerging.
It’s probably fair to say that people are generally the beneficiaries of the wider, freer availability of entertainment on demand and the fact that business leaders and bankers, politicians and regulators have to play catch-up and respond, is a good thing.
Pirates of the Internet; Neither Jolly Nor Romantic.
If the Medium is the Message, What Is It Saying?
When the Family Becomes a Nice Little Earner.
Will Technology Kill Off the Actor?
Web is Music to the Ears of the Entertainment Industry.
Advertising Gets Really Personal.