Warning: Rapid change ahead

I was in a conversation the other day about making the switch over to HD video production. I could tell I was starting to hyperventilate, and that my audience’s eyes were starting to glaze over with my indecision and feeble explanations about the complexities associated with making any real commitments to a particular technology right now.stamp warning with red text on white

Not only is money at stake, but so is time: Buckets and buckets of time in trying to develop a coherent workflow that allows you to stop worrying about the workflow and focus on creating. I know this is heresy to the knobs-and-dials crowd, but believe it or not, it all eventually comes down to content creation. It’s easy to lose focus on that when the premium has always been on just accomplishing a technical feat. But the times they are “a-changin.”

With that said, there are a couple of very interesting things happening. The first is the convergence (oops, there’s that word again) of progressive and streaming downloads. It’s been a sort of Beta vs. VHS battle in the world of online content delivery. In a year though, it may not matter anymore – which will make lots of the mind-numbing discussions about encoding and hosting moot.

One of the advantages of this “hybrid” or “smooth streaming” approach is that it intelligently decides how to stream the best quality based upon the instantly available bandwidth and traffic volumes. In other words, it’s optimized to use the most bandwidth possible. Microsoft (i.e. Silverlight) is promoting this and the results are very cool.

Now, on top of this interesting development that seeks to find a way to deliver us a massive amount of video data, and frankly, allow us to converge the Internet and the cable TV signals comes news that the ISPs are thinking about tolling for bandwidth usage. So, streaming movies on the Internet is going to cost you more than buying Comcast’s on demand movie for $5.99. Am I paranoid? Well, you be the judge.

There’s no telling how this will all work out. Lawmakers will probably get involved at some point, which will take us back to the days of the AT&T breakup. But it’s interesting to see the rush to deliver data by the terabyte on one hand, and economic forces working to retard the web’s development on the other.