“For everything, there is a first time.” – Spock, “Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan,” Paramount
One of the great things about the annual SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers) conference is that members are always looking forward to make entertainment deeper, richer, more available and this year was no exception.
Like most people who focus on technology the engineers work on standards that will raise the opportunities not just for one firm but the industry. But they focus on the near-term issues…the next 2-5 years. Tomorrow will be on the screen.
After all, one of the best predictors of the future is the stuff they conjure up and distribute…movies.
Take Star Trek. Its movies and TV shows have been taking us to the far reaches for nearly 40 years. Star Trek introduced us to tricorders (smartphones), phasers (stun guns), protective shields, 3D food printers, earbuds, voice-controlled intelligent systems and more.
The goal may be better, more entertaining content but it makes us think of the possibilities.
Sweet Spot – Much of tomorrow’s population will be in what is commonly thought of as the sweet spot for marketers—millennials and post millennials. They will have grown up never driving and very comfortable with AI and robots. After a tough couple of hours of working – moving data around – there’s nothing more relaxing than custom video content.
You know like what our M&E (media & entertainment) will be like in the next 40ish years:
- The global population will be about 10.5B people with as many as 50M plus having migrated to Mars, thanks to private and public colonization efforts
- 5G networking will be old hat and we’ll use technology with Terahertz performance
- Today’s Gen Zers will be part of the 2B plus boomers/boomers plus and about 2B Gen Charlies (starting over in the alphabet) will have taken their place
- Everything will be connected and personal data will be identifiably personal but widely shared and used by content providers to deliver the information/content you want, where you want it, before you know you want it
- We will produce, process, disseminate and consume as much as 4,0008 kilobytes, four yottabytes of data
- General purpose and specialized/personalized AI-based data analysis/decision systems will be in widespread use to help individuals do what they do in their enmeshed professional and personal lives
- Commerce and “downtime” will consist of moving information packets from one place to another and reshaping them to do stuff
A Starting Point
Equality – It will be a long, slow slog to achieve true equality for people of all races and sexes and unfortunately will continue to be a work-in-progress. But it will be a little better.
While half of the global population might be discouraged, progress will be made, and parity will be in sight.
In the developed world, the gender gap will have narrowed and salaries, rights, responsibility, respect will be more equal. Women will be playing a major role in business, government, and the content development/distribution industry.
Facebook Live, YouTube, SnapChat and a wide range of online services will be distant memories replaced with ultra, ultra-high res camera-connected devices will provide instant platforms for everyone to express themselves and share/modify/interact with content.
It will primarily be the new Gen Cers, who have grown up in an ultra-visual world; who will be uploading 1,000 hours of content every second (3-15 minutes in length) that will be consumed by billions of social media viewers.
While the preference for rapid-fire, short attention span viewing seems to be a dim forecast for tomorrow’s large-small budget filmmakers, I don’t see this happening.
Visual Storytellers – While everyone can write/tell a story, there will still be those who have a creative passion to see things not exactly as they are but as they can be, should be, will be. Their images will always be in demand.
Since the beginning of recorded time, visual storytellers and creatives have found a ready and eager audience in the vast population.
In fact, the rapid flow of online streaming tidbits will heighten the demand for better quality and a broader range of content.
What will be different is where and how it is viewed.
Storytellers will be using ultra UHDR/VR cameras to create immersive VR/AR/MR stories that people can simply sit and enjoy or take control of the storyline and flow, bringing in and dispensing with real or animated characters.
Tomorrow’s visual entertainment will be a true collaboration.
For professional filmmakers, AI-based solutions will be closely tied to content metadata throughout the production process. Piracy will be something your grandparents were concerned about because content will be tied back to the specific storyteller.
As a result, individual “creators/modifiers” will be electronically and automatically compensated for their efforts.
When individuals want to slip into immersive content rather than just passively view, they will don special personal gear. The efficiencies of new and advanced software-based codecs will facilitate viewing16K screens with living room-centric viewing voice and motion control.
Walls, Screens – There won’t be a need for today’s TV set or special screen to view your content because surfaces will be visually enabled, and you will be able to enjoy your personal channel of video content anywhere, anytime.
You won’t have to choose whether you’re watching on one of your communications devices; in your mode of transportation or your home ultra UHDR TV. Screens will be everywhere – office/home surfaces, modes of transportation, everywhere. An excellent example is Corning’s YouTube video – A Day Made of Glass.
It probably won’t be glass and they will be watching you as much as you are watching them. There won’t be any need to choose a channel from 10, 1,000 or even 10,000. There will be over 10B channels—one for every specific person on the planet. And thanks to AI-based analytics solutions, you’ll have access to any content anywhere.
Channels will be built around the things people do, where they go, their likes and dislikes, moods, relationships, interests … a rich, rewarding channel of one.
Want some content for a few minutes or an hour? Just say the word and the content system will deliver your channel instantly.
Content management firms which could include studios, OTT delivery services (AT&T, Verizon, Rogers, Turner, Viacom, AMC, NBC, Univision, MediaCorp, CCTV, Colors Odia, China Telecom, Tata, and other local, national, international carriers) will store, stage, and distribute content no matter where you are.
Yes, we will still have ads!
The difference will be that the AI-based solution will deliver precisely the content you want to consider/consume/enjoy. If you’re happy and want to celebrate you’ll get cool, fun type stuff. If you’re a little down, bummed, depressed; the solution will give you uplifting, morale building, confidence-enabling material. If you’re aggressive and want to crush/destroy something; you’ll receive conflict/war, adventure, zombie challenges. If you’re nostalgic, you’ll receive content from 2016 or 2020 and wonder how the old folks handled life back then.
Whatever you’re feeling at the moment will be satisfied by the content you probably didn’t even realize you wanted.
Tailored Viewing – With 10s of millions of hours of visual content for you to view AI-based content management and delivery will pick the stories that you want to view based on your intellectual leaning, mood, mental state and need to be entertained, educated, or informed. Satisfaction will only be a word or thought away.
The entertainment/content system will “flip through” millions of video files to offer you material to consider or to meet your specific needs at the time. What’s offered may not be right 100 percent of the time but usually it will be. It won’t be everywhere, anywhere TV, it will be individually personalized content.
Right now, there are some ultra-practical folks saying “B.S. If we have all that data streaming in at 16K, 120fps for a one-hour film, you’re talking about10PB of storage per film. Multiply that by even, 1,000 hours of content per day and we don’t have enough cloud data centers to store it.”
Friends in the storage industry are rubbing their hands together with glee as resolution and content continue to grow because it means a robust demand for storage as filmmakers, content managers and file distributors produce, gather, and archive content from the four corners of the globe.
“VR, AR, holograms and 16K, HDR content production will produce a whole new set of digital assets that will be managed at the frame level and AI will be able to predict users’ wants and needs based on past behavior for a more fluid, intuitive experience,” states Allan McLennan of PADEM Media. “These available assets in storage will be mapped to the viewer’s behavior – personalized, private and detailed—and will accurately be presented seamlessly and close to instantaneously through AI”
The software, hosting and storage will move from single servers and monoliths towards distributed systems with fog-hosting (decentralized networking) that provides greater efficiency, reduced pressure on the networks and an improved user experience/enjoyment.
The challenge to date is that the storage industry hasn’t kept pace with the content industry.
Microsoft’s lead researcher Karin Strauss pointed out that electronic storage has not kept pace with storage demand. She noted, “If you look at current projections, we can’t store all the information we want with devices at the cost that they are.”
The New Medium
To meet the seemingly unquenchable storage demand, Microsoft successfully demonstrated DNA archive storage in mid-2016.
In 30 years many analysts see spinning disks and tape relegated to virtual museums because of limited storage capacity and short data life (typical HD data life 7 years, LTO tape 30 years).
Massive Storage—To keep pace with the ballooning creation of content, storage engineers and scientists are already perfecting DNA storage that will store terabytes of content on a microscopic strain. Content will be saved for thousands of years and the new storage solution will virtually eliminate the demand for massive data centers.
The future content industry requires both capacity, long storage life, and speed. Flash/solid state memory will have a reprieve and will be used as local content buffer as the AI system determines the content desired and “preloads” it locally.
IDC predicted that the worldwide total of stored digital data would be 16 zettabytes (16 trillion gigabytes) in 2017. Cisco estimates that by 2020, we will be producing 44ZB of data annually.
It’s Big – While having a terabyte of storage on your notebook or half a terabyte on your smartphone will be the answer to your needs, 8K, 16K, HDR and VR content will require expanded storage capacity. This year alone more than 16 zettabytes of content storage will be required.
A shoebox of DNA would hold roughly 100 ultra-large data centers. While remarkably dense, human DNA is unstable but super-efficient in storing information that can be easily manipulated. Strauss and other data scientists are confident that they can make it commercially viable (cheaper) over the next 5–10 years.
Storing data in DNA requires translating the 1s and 0s of binary digital files into long strings of the four different nucleotides—or bases—that make up DNA strands and write out the genetic code (already proven feasible).
Storing digital data on DNA overcomes current data storage because it:
- doesn’t degrade when exposed to magnetic fields or extreme temperatures
- isn’t susceptible to data loss in the event of a power loss
- is long-lasting for thousands of years without degradation
In our constantly connected, always-on world, communal venues such as theaters will disappear.
Like-thinking people, regardless of where they are physically located, will connect and share ideas, activities, and events. Interactively, they will create, modify, and share entertainment content. Personalized content will be available to them wherever they go.
We will also find that we’re more alone together.
The creative minds of today are already giving us hints as to what tomorrow will look like.
“Entertainment” as we think of it today will be an instant, momentary escape from the here and now to the then and there.
As Jean-Luc Picard said, “Things are only impossible until they’re not!”
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