When the Movie Theater Fits in Your Hand ; Hand-Held Devices Carry Libraries of Music and Movies - but at the Cost of Audio Quality and Picture Size. Can the Trade-Off Gap Be Narrowed?

By Gloria Goodale writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, December 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

When the Movie Theater Fits in Your Hand ; Hand-Held Devices Carry Libraries of Music and Movies - but at the Cost of Audio Quality and Picture Size. Can the Trade-Off Gap Be Narrowed?


Gloria Goodale writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


From the dawn of modern movies, the big screen has provided filmmakers with the canvas they've needed to create epic, visionary tales set against large, sweeping landscapes - think D.W. Griffith or Peter Jackson. But in the new digital era, the cinematic experience no longer dominates popular entertainment, even though it is still one of its primary drivers.

Increasingly, audiences are using their visual media to fit their lifestyles, whether at home or on the move, sacrificing screen size for the ease of access and portability. Computers, cellphones, Game Boys, even grocery checkout screens are all being pressed into service as entertainment venues. But, while quality content is still king, one size doesn't fit all. (Just try watching "Star Wars" in the palm of your hand - can you even find Yoda?) As the novelty of watching anything and everything on smaller devices wears off, the media revolution is spurring filmmakers, studios, and viewers alike to ask themselves what role screen size plays in delivering the best value for the entertainment dollar. Answer: Each size requires, and is increasingly inspiring, uniquely tailored material.

The challenge is inspiring Hollywood, where A-listers such as small-screen producer Steven Bochco ("NYPD Blue," "Hill Street Blues") and film star Morgan Freeman have both recently announced partnerships to create material for new media (cellphones and websites). New short-form narratives from Mr. Bochco are scheduled to appear on the Metacafe website as early as January.

Expect more of the same from the creative community, says Frank Chindamo, president and chief creative officer of FunLittleMovies.com, which is based in Burbank, Calif. Every technological leap has been matched by a new form of storytelling, he adds. Cinema was the first form of filmed entertainment. Then TV arrived and that meant that the TV show had to be invented, observes Mr. Chindamo. This new, more intimate form was a hybrid of theater, vaudeville, music, and radio. "Now there are whole new forms of entertainment on the Internet and mobiles and they're still figuring that out," he adds.

Determining the right kind of entertainment for a given screen size is like assessing real estate, says Michael Krupat, vice president, Television Group for City Lights Media Group. It's all about location. Where and when is the content being watched?

Mr. Krupat's firm creates content for virtually every platform, from theatrical films to television, computers to cellphones. "We have to be very careful," he says. "We have to think about size because each screen requires that you do things differently."

He points to his firm's recent mobile phone series, "Dingo Ate My Video," starring puppet versions of a dingo and a baby. …

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