Big data drives today’s movie industry, both in terms of the amount of data packed into each frame you see at theaters, and in terms of video streaming online. It’s what delivers 3D effects in the theater, and personalized recommendations to Netflix viewers. And very big numbers ride on both.
3 dimensions - quadruple the data
In the past few years, 3D movies have staged a comeback on a scale much greater than their brief heyday in the 1950s. Including the 3D effect adds "anywhere from 100% to 200% more data per frame," says Jeff Denworth, vice president of marketing for DataDirect Networks (DDN), in an InformationWeek article.
Denworth attributes the proliferation of present day 3D films to the huge success James Cameron had with the 3-D film Avatar in 2009, which packed a petabyte of data.
3D explodes the amount of data per film
Avatar cost about $237 million to produce, but it brought in more than ten times that amount. It earned the distinction of IMDB identifying it as "the highest-grossing film of all time." By the beginning of 2010, it had taken in $2,779,404,183.
A rash of 3D films followed this success, and many did very well. According to Suppli Market Intelligence (owned by IHS), in 2011, 3D films brought in $7 billion at the box-office, 16 percent more than the previous year.
Bigger and bigger data
The full figures for 2012 are not yet in, though they will likely be higher, as the number of 3D screens has gone up from about 9,000 in 2009 to, according to Suppli, "43,000 by the third quarter" of 2012.
One of the biggest draws of the year, Marvel’s 3D superhero flick, The Avengers, grossed $1,511,757,910 in 2012. As 3D has grown common at the theater, movie-makers have to point to something else to distinguish their offering.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey had to do 3-D one better with its "brand new format of High Frame Rate 3D (HFR 3D)." Instead of 24 frames per second, which is the movie standard, it packs in 48. The advantage to the viewer, it claims, it that the greater number offers an experience "closer to what the human eye actually sees."
Big data also impacting the small screen
Big data is also key to watching movies on the small screen. Instead of picking up a disc when they buy or rent a movie, now, people can have it come right to them. In an article on Newsle, Dan Cryan, senior principal analyst at IHS, observed that in 2012, Americans made "a historic switch to Internet-based consumption, setting the stage for a worldwide migration from physical to online."
That same article reports that estimates of online movie payments for the US in 2012 are “3.4 billion views or transactions, up from 1.4 billion in 2011." This form of video streaming is dominated by Netflix in the US, where it makes up "33% of peak period downstream traffic" according to Sandvine. Amazon, Hulu, and HBO Go follow far behind at 1.8 percent, 1.5 percent, and .5 percent, respectively.
Netflix intends to keep its lead with the help of big data.
Last year, Netflix was the subject of a WSJ blog on using big data to improve streaming video. Though Netflix still offers to mail out the DVDs people select for rental, more customers now opt for streaming. In the interest of improving efficiency on that end, Netflix transferred its holdings to Amazon’s cloud. It also started using Hadoop, which enables it "to run massive data analyses, such as graphing traffic patterns for every type of device across multiple markets." That helps plan for improved data transmission and better understanding of the customer.
In addition to using big data solutions for delivery of content, Netflix applies algorithms to predict what their customers will likely want to watch next. This type of data-mining technology makes Netflix confident that it can handle hosting original content. In fact, it bet more than $100 million on it; that’s the reported sum paid for the rights to two seasons of House of Cards, one of several original content series it plans on streaming.
As Netflix’s Chief Communications Officer, Jonathan Friedland, told Wired, "We know what people watch on Netflix and we’re able with a high degree of confidence to understand how big a likely audience is for a given show based on people’s viewing habits."
So what do you think? Is it possible to guarantee a hit with big data?
User Rank: Exabyte Executive 1/30/2013 | 4:46:02 PM
Re: The pipes Ariella, I wonder at times if anyone is keeping Big Data for future generations -- as in perhaps 10,000 years from now. Imagine if the caveman had been able to keep better records. :) That's one extra value others decades and perhaps centuries from now might be able to harvest from big data on the big screen. If properly stored!
Re: The pipes Amazing how we expand our data consumption to suit the capacities available to us. This will certainly be a pinch point going forwards, although bandwidth does tend to move at a rapid rate, and as fiber optic networks become the norm, there shouldn't be a need for hardware replacement for some time.
User Rank: Blogger 1/28/2013 | 8:36:51 AM
Re: The pipes @Anna, you bring up a problem we may be facing in general: so much data is transmitted over the internet that we may be choking up bandwidth. That is definitely something that will have to be addressed as people want to access more and more streaming content, not just on computers but even on mobile devices.
While Netflix is the leader in streaming paid content, YouTube certainly contributes a huge amoutn a traffic. A Bloomberg video points to 800 million viewers and millions of dollars in ad revenue generated on the site.
User Rank: Exabyte Executive 1/28/2013 | 6:30:22 AM
The pipes There's a bottleneck here. The pipes are too small for the big data on the big screen. They may do fine in movie theatres but we all want them on our tablets or on the home TV eventually. How will the big data films you identified be easy to watch without bigger internet pipes than we have today? That's an area to explore.
User Rank: Blogger 1/26/2013 | 6:31:08 PM
Re: Is it time for a revolution in filters? @Daniel You're right, that kind of feedback would be valuable data to fine-tune recommendations. It would be worth it for Amazon to offer some incentive --- like a gift card or the chance of winning one -- for the customers who take the time to offer it.
User Rank: Blogger 1/26/2013 | 6:29:34 PM
Re: Is it time for a revolution in filters? @mharden that is defnitely on the way. In fact, right now there are television sets more advanced than most available content. If you're willing to shell out about $20K,you can be among the first on your block to boast of having an Ultra HD TV. That would put you on the bleeding edge of technology, but you will have to wait for programming to catch up to fully enjoy it.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Ultra HD is that currently there's little content available to take advantage of the higher resolution. Similar situations greeted the first HDTVs and color sets.
Until then, you can see some advantage in Blu-ray and 3-D movies delivered to your TV:
However, most displays, including LG's and Sony's, will convert Blu-ray disc movies to the higher resolution of the larger sets. "What they own today will look great" on the new set, Vandenbree says.
New Ultra HD sets will also display 3-D content that looks better than that on current sets. And some new video cameras shoot Ultra HD resolution video, too.
Re: Is it time for a revolution in filters? @Ariella, your experience with books is familar. The classifiers are only as good as the training data they're based on. For this reason, there needs to be some mechanism for people to provide feedback regarding the recommendations provided. Many times when using Amazon, and I see the list of recommended titles, I'd like to be able to rank the selections as "Good recommendation, thanks!", or "Didn't know about that one, I'll check it out", or "Huh!? No thanks." If a fraction of the people receiving recommendations would take the time to provide continued training data like this, classifier accuracy would improve dramatically.
User Rank: Exabyte Executive 1/26/2013 | 9:22:46 AM
Re: Is it time for a revolution in filters? Not only films, but the delivery of content has caught the eye of many investors as well. As we've seen with our buddies at Netflix, Hulu and others this is going to be huge. I can't wait to see the streaming delivery of 3D movies.