Sure, before you head to the beach, it’s imperative to slather on the sunblock. (Note: as far as I know, this is the first time I’ve used “slather” in a written sentence.) Everyone knows that too many UV rays are bad for you, and that SPF is the remedy. But what about another kind of ultraviolet?
This particular UltraViolet is a new cloud format for movies that is almost ready to make its consumer debut. UltraViolet has almost all of the major movie studios and many electronics manufacturers onboard, as well as many other supporting technology companies. But — and it’s a big but — Disney and Apple have not signed on yet.
UltraViolet seems pretty cool. When you buy a movie on Blu-ray, you’ll get access to a cloud version that you can stream to your various devices. And, it’s “free,” because the cost of the rights to stream the movie will be included in the price of the Blu-ray disc.
It’s hard to say exactly what studios will do, but I imagine that major movie releases will contain a Blu-ray disc, a DVD disc, and a UV cloud copy that can be accessed on a phone or tablet or whatever (the standard supports up to 12 devices). The whole digital copy download thing, always awkward to use, will probably disappear. Another UltraViolet option is to dispense with the disc altogether and simply sell the cloud version of the movie. In other words, UltraViolet is a bridge to the all-cloud future.
The question is, is that a future that we really want? Will the cloud picture and sound quality be equal to or better than Blu-ray? And what about the bonus material? Will an all-cloud UltraViolet delivery system do to movie quality what MP3 did to CD music quality? Sure, not having to pay for disc pressing will mean more profit for studios, but what about us consumers?
Ken C. Pohlmann is well known as an audio educator, consultant, and author. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, and the author of numerous articles and books, including Principles of Digital Audio and Master Handbook of Acoustics.
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