Streaming: Movies, Media, and Instant Access

Streaming: Movies, Media, and Instant Access

Streaming: Movies, Media, and Instant Access

Streaming: Movies, Media, and Instant Access


Film stocks are vanishing, but the iconic images of the silver screen remain -- albeit in new, sleeker formats. Today, viewers can instantly stream movies on televisions, computers, and smartphones. Gone are the days when films could only be seen in theaters or rented at video stores: movies are now accessible at the click of a button, and there are no reels, tapes, or discs to store. Any film or show worth keeping may be collected in the virtual cloud and accessed at will through services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant.

The movies have changed, and we are changing with them. The ways we communicate, receive information, travel, and socialize have all been revolutionized. In "Streaming," Wheeler Winston Dixon reveals the positive and negative consequences of the transition to digital formatting and distribution, exploring the ways in which digital cinema has altered contemporary filmmaking and our culture. Many industry professionals and audience members feel that the new format fundamentally alters the art, while others laud the liberation of the moving image from the "imperfect" medium of film, asserting that it is both inevitable and desirable. Dixon argues that the change is neither good nor bad; it's simply a fact.

Hollywood has embraced digital production and distribution because it is easier, faster, and cheaper, but the displacement of older technology will not come without controversy. This groundbreaking book illuminates the challenges of preserving media in the digital age and explores what stands to be lost, from the rich hues of traditional film stocks to the classic movies that are not profitable enough to offer in streaming formats. Dixon also investigates the financial challenges of the new distribution model, the incorporation of new content such as webisodes, and the issue of ownership in an age when companies have the power to pull purchased items from consumer devices at their own discretion. "Streaming" touches on every aspect of the shift to digital production and distribution. It explains not only how the new technology is affecting movies, music, books, and games, but also how instant access is permanently changing the habits of viewers and influencing our culture.


There can be no doubt that the digitization of the moving image has radically and irrevocably altered the phenomenon we call the cinema, and that the characteristics of this transformation leave open an entirely new field of visual figuration. For those who live and work in the postfilmic era—that is, those who have come to consciousness in the last twenty years—the digital world is not only an accomplished fact but also the dominant medium of visual discourse. Many observers have remarked that the liberation of the moving image from the tyranny of the “imperfect” medium of film is a technical shift that is not only inevitable but also desirable. And this tectonic shift in cinema is only part of the overall digitization of society.

This shift to digital cinema is now under way around the world, and much of it still resides in Hollywood, which retains an almost hegemonic grip on international image discourse. The way the image is captured, disseminated, and consumed by contemporary audiences, and the manner in which this process, or series of processes, is constantly being revised, means that the medium is at a genuine “tipping point” in its history. The same holds true for music, texts, anything that can be streamed. This switch to digital will bring about a permanent change in the hab-

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