A plethora of formats

Would you say I have a plethora of distribution formats?

Oh yes, you have a plethora.

A piece by Susanne Ault in Variety (9/16/09) serves as kind of a counter-point to a previous one by Scott Kirsner in terms of surveying the distribution landscape. Where Scott’s focused on the options available to independent filmmakers, Ault’s is more a lay of the land for the mainstream distributors, including the nugget that there are up to 250 different distribution formats that must be catered to in order to put movies in everyone’s hands.

Which is why this is important:

With the help of the Entertainment Technology Center, studios are engineering an interoperable digital master format (IMF) to further boost their digital businesses. Studios would seriously simplify — and save money on — the distribution process with one movie file, instead of 250, that could be delivered to fit most digital retailers.

Based at the U. of Southern California, the ETC has been overseeing regular studio meetings toward this IMF goal. The ETC expects to create a master specification by early 2010, having already completed more than half the work by September.

My guess is that adoption of digital distribution changes dramatically when that is achieved.

There was also a later story, also in Variety (10/17/09) about how some studios are testing out different models for home video/video-on-demand releasing patterns that’s kind of interesting. Recaps a lot of what’s come before but also looks ahead a bit to what may be coming as a result of some of those experiments.

By Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.