Streaming: Movies, Media, and Instant Access
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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.
Wheeler Winston Dixon, James Ryan Endowed Professor of Film Studies and professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is coeditor in chief of the Quarterly Review of Film and Video and the author of numerous books, including A History of Horror, Visions of the Apocalypse: Spectacles of Destruction in American Cinema, and Film Talk: Directors at Work.
Dixon has written a lively, opinionated, and detailed up-to-the-minute dispatch on the current state of the moving-image media as they experience a period of rapid transition marked by instability and uncertainty regarding the future of viewing and exhibition practices. It is a timely and urgent contribution to current scholarship in the constantly evolving discipline of media studies. -- David Sterritt, author of Screening the Beats: Media Culture and the Beat Sensibility
Dixon’s book offers a cogent overview of the history of digital film production and its impact on traditional filmmaking. His work is more than just a historical map of the development of digitized filmmaking, but also a sociocultural and psychological study of how digitally formed film will (and does) impact viewers. Streaming will make a significant contribution to the field, as no scholar has yet looked at digital cinema and its impact on the sociocultural experience of viewing film. -- Valerie Orlando, author of Screening Morocco: Contemporary Film in a Changing Society
In this expansive, elegantly written, and engaging study, Wheeler Winston Dixon aims nothing less than to rethink the future of cinema in a digital age. Exploring the ways in which the Hollywood model of embracing digital production is spreading throughout the world, Streaming: Movies, Media, and Instant Access complicates, illuminates, and extends our understanding of our current media landscape. -- Patrice Petro, The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
"Wheeler Winston Dixon has written a lively, detailed, up-to-the-minute dispatch on the moving-image media during their current period of rapid transition and transformation. The volatility of present-day media technology makes the book’s comprehensive scope, authoritative tone, scrupulous balance, and eye-opening revelations all the more welcome and impressive. Dixon’s experiences as a practicing filmmaker as well as a media theorist and historian add further to his credentials as an expert on this multifaceted field, and his writing is consistently bright and engaging, making this an excellent book for general readers as well as a valuable resource for classroom use and scholarly reference. Streaming is a timely and in some ways urgent contribution to the constantly evolving discipline of media studies." -- David Sterritt, Columbia University, Chair, National Society of Film Critics