Changelog & Friends – Episode #16

The beginning of the end of physical media

featuring Christina "film_girl" Warren

All Episodes

On September 29th, Netflix shipped its final DVDs, marking the end of an era in physical media. So, we invited our friend Christina Warren (aka film_girl) from GitHub to pour out a drink with us and lament the end of this golden age of access to the films we all love.

Featuring

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Notes & Links

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Chapters

1 00:00 Let's talk!
2 00:38 Netflix & Friends
3 03:01 Double bonus!
4 05:30 No more commentaries
5 06:55 All about the extras
6 11:02 BTS (Polar Express)
7 14:59 Access is a big deal
8 16:42 Netflix napkin math
9 17:12 The disc warehouse
10 19:09 Qwikster debacle!
11 21:49 Sponsor: Neo4j
12 22:55 What about Redbox?
13 23:59 Death of Blockbuster
14 24:59 Blockbuster life (Elmo's!)
15 29:29 What happens to Redbox?
16 30:10 Hardware + content
17 31:17 Not Plex friendly
18 33:02 Kaleidescape
19 35:51 "Look who you're suing!"
20 37:18 DRM: never be worth it
21 42:04 Adam's HT setup
22 48:13 Sponsor: Sentry
23 52:12 Digital too?
24 53:28 Apple TV app
25 54:54 Things to worry about
26 1:00:29 The beginning of the end
27 1:02:30 Digital archives
28 1:03:55 Do we care less?
29 1:05:34 Not against evolution
30 1:07:45 Films are part of who we are
31 1:09:10 Adam's last discs
32 1:10:47 Thanks for joining us!
33 1:11:40 Coming up next

Transcript

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Changelog

Play the audio to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧

Well, we’re talking obsolescence today, Adam. This is near and dear to your heart, the death of physical media by way of Netflix. Finally.

I assumed that Christina would have similar feelings that we would. I don’t even know, Christina, how do you feel about this?

It feels weird, right? I haven’t even been someone who’s used the disk program in a number of years, but –

[laughs]

Well, here’s the thing - I buy, I buy physical media.

We invited you on here thinking you’re a diehard subscriber. Come on.

No, no, I mean, I was for many, many years. And then the problem was they actually dropped me off the plan. Because for a while I was paying for the plan and not using it, and then they were like “Actually, you’re not using this anymore, so we’re just gonna drop you off.” And I’m like “But I would have continued paying…” So their loss there. But part of my heart felt like it was being trampled on. My very first love are DVDs. I consider my DVDs and BluRays my children, and I’m only being sort of facetious when I say that.

Only a little.

Only a little bit, genuinely. I don’t know, it just feels like an end of just this really important era of filmmaking, and film loving, and film watching, where for a time, for a brief 20-year span, you could get almost any piece of media that had been released - you could find it on disk, and you could find it someplace and you could rent it. You didn’t have to worry about were the rights expired or not, who has ownership, is it in a vault or not? It was probably released at some point, and if it was out there, you could find a way to source it, and Netflix had a great catalog for that. And what makes me sad is that there are so many titles, like thousands upon thousands of titles that have never been brought to streaming, either legally, or to buy in any way shape or form that are not available to stream, or not available to buy digitally, that are just gone in vaults… While billionaires decide how they can manipulate various IP agreements to suck every single cent out of what was supposed to be art. Never forget the business part of show business. But there was this moment of time where you could get everything. And now that that moment is gone, because there’s so many amazing films and TV shows and other things that are just not available, I feel like we’ve lost something. It feels like when the video store started to close, and I just… I don’t know, it makes me sad.

Very sad. Very well said, and very sad. Obscure titles like the Naked Gun 2½.

[03:06]

The Naked Gun 2½. The smell of fear… “Give me the strongest thing you’ve got.” This is a sequel so big they had to add another half.

That was a great one.

Or Splash.

Splash.

[03:21]

There is a mermaid in New York City.

How come she’s got legs?

She has legs out of the water, she has fins in the water…

What about a woman showing up naked in a public place Freddie?

Well, I’m for it, of course.

Or like Philadelphia.

[03:36]

Every now and again, not often, but occasionally, you get to be a part of justice being done.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I’m reading from my at-home queue, because I’m a subscriber, and I took as many as I could…

You’re still a subscriber to this day?

To the end. To the end.

How many bonus films did they send you?

Well, I had two accounts…

So you got 20 bonuses?

Yeah…

That’s awesome.

It’s so good.

And I think they’re gonna send me ten more each, per account, because – I don’t know, I signed up for the bonus 10, not just the ones that they let me keep when my subscription was done, whenever the 29th happened. I was waiting to last Friday. It was a big deal around my house. We all circled around the red Netflix envelopes and just poured one out, really.

And it was a sad moment, and then we watched movies, and then we were happy again. So…

You watched movies that you ripped off of DVDs, or BluRays, right?

Well, I put it right into the player. Right into the player –

Did you put it right in there?

Unhappily, of course…

Just for old times’ sake.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So what is your normal setup, Adam? Because I have my way of doing things. Do you normally watch it once in the player, or is it immediately rip and put on the server? What’s your normal process?

I go disk-first to keep it pure.

And then I go the other way. Plex is my way to do things, you know that, right? Some people who listen to our shows know… When we last talked to you, we geeked out for just a brief moment, because that was not the point of the call, about Plex… And I’m just a diehard Plex user. I ripped my 4k discs to it, I ripped my 1080p disks to it, my 720p’s, of course… Everything’s on there. Extras… It’s just, everything’s on it.

The whole thing, right?

That’s the whole thing.

Director’s commentaries, all of it.

Yes. Okay, let’s talk about that for a second, because I want to hear about your setup in a bit. Sorry to interrupt you, but…

That’s okay.

…this is what really kills me about the death of physical media, and especially the death of some of this Netflix stuff, is that there are amazing audio commentaries - not all of them; some of them, especially once they started having to churn out so many DVDs, and you would see – the people would record them before the film was even released. You know, they were bad. But there were so many amazing director commentaries, and commentary tracks from other people involved in the film… This isn’t a thing that the kids today know about, and that makes me so sad, because as someone who was in high school during kind of this golden era, and then in college - I’m not even joking when I say this, I think that I got more of a film education in some cases listening to those commentaries that I did from film school.

Oh, for sure. Where did you go to film school?

[06:11] Emory University.

Okay. I thought you were gonna say Full Sail, because –

…I lived in Orlando, and wanted to go to Full Sail. I wanted to be – oddly enough, before I got into software, I wanted to be an audio engineer for films. Never made it, obviously… But that was my plan. And then I got into podcasts; it’s kind of crazy, but…

You made it, audio engineer for software.

Yeah. Full Sail, Jerod, so you know, is a school in Orlando, Florida, and it’s well-known for churning out directors, and editors, and audio engineers around film and the film industry. Our mutual friend DK went there. He’s a DP.

DK is a DP?

DK is a DP, yeah. That means director of photography. But you know, what I’ll miss about the DVD/BluRay/physical disk era is something like this - a treat that you may not be familiar with on Superbad.

[07:05]

McLovin? What kind of a stupid name is that, Fogell? What, are you trying to be an Irish R&B singer?

Oh, they let you pick any name you want when you get down there.

And you landed on McLovin?

Yeah, it was between that and Muhammed.

Are you familiar with this movie?

Yes. I love Superbad.

Are you familiar with The Treat, by any chance?

What’s The Treat?

Okay, here’s The Treat. Michael Cera danced for an hour straight. So the DVD, the loop that you see when you put the DVD in, the title screen - it’s not a loop, it’s an hour. He danced for an hour straight…

Whaat…?

Because they realized when you ship a DVD, or a BluRay, you have that title screen, and you’ve got that motion. And they thought people would watch it for as long as it took to see when it would loop, and it never loops. I mean, obviously, it goes an hour; who’s gonna watch the title screen for an hour?

That’s awesome.

That’s longer than the movie, right? Those are the treats you get from that kind of media. I guess maybe you can get it potentially on Apple TV, or whatever… I mean, they do some cool stuff with extras. When you buy films from Apple TV, they do go the extra mile give you –

For some of them, yeah.

…a title screen and some cool stuff. But it’s not like the DVD era.

It’s not. And you’re right, and the packaging – well, that is the interesting thing, because at this point SteelBooks have become its own entity in and of itself. So it’s almost like – there’s collectors, people who just collect the SteelBooks; they don’t really care about what’s inside of it. Which is fine. I’m happy they’re still making physical media for that purpose. But yeah, you’re right, those treats… I didn’t know that. And I have a Superbad DVD and BluRay. I’m sure I probably have both of them.

Go check out the title sequence. It’s –

Oh, that’s amazing.

You should watch the whole thing. That’s kind of an Andy Kaufman move. Like, it never loops. That’s awesome.

Yeah, it never loops.

I love that he did that, a, and I interviewed him once. Nice guy, weird guy. Nice guy. I can believe that he would do that, but I also love that they did that, and that they put that on, that they were like “Oh, we have extra storage on the desk.”

I was gonna say, that it has to bloat it up, doesn’t it?

I don’t know what it did physically to the disk itself, but it was in the era when everyone was like “Well, we have this new thing.” It’s like software, “What can we do with this new API? How can we take this mash-up and do something unique?”, like, back in the Web 2.0 days. That’s what it reminds me of. It’s this pushing of the newfound technology available to not just the film itself to make the film, but like the treat for the lovers of the films, you know?

I feel like they kind of stopped doing that, or maybe I quit paying attention. Because when DVDs first came out, it was all about the extras, all about what the menu was going to look like… And then over time it kind of felt like – maybe like you said, Christina, because they had so many to crank out… And maybe it was just certain ones, they were just like “It’s standard.” It was so standard so much that it was kind of like I stopped looking for it. But maybe there was still people that were doing it, but less of them.

Yeah, that’s the thing, you always had your stand-outs, like the Criterion Collection, who have always been known… I mean, they go back to the laserdisc era, which was before my time… But some of the best early DVDs especially were just laserdisc ports. And even today, some of the best – like, the commentary tracks and extras are from the laserdisc era. But Criterion always did really good job with that stuff. And some studios would do a really good job, too. But yeah, then I think it became a marketing thing. And then I think you’re right, we all kind of became blind to it, because it just became promotional. It wasn’t about the treat, it was about “Okay, let me advertise this other upcoming thing to you. Let me sell you something.”

[10:19] Oh, yeah. And it required stuff to watch before you can get to the menu screen, and stuff.

Trailers as ads, essentially.

Essentially. And I think that that kind of helped. And then that coincided, I think, with streaming becoming a more viable entity. And at first, it wasn’t streaming, it was “Okay, I can watch this digitally. I can download stuff on my computer, legally, through iTunes or Amazon service.” Or the way most of us did, off of BitTorrent and other things, and watch it on my laptop. And I think people got more used to – and then streaming became a thing. I think people just became used to “I just want to watch the film. I don’t care about the treats anymore”, which is a shame.

Yeah, totally a shame. There’s just so much good stuff out there even… Like, Polar Express is not the best movie necessarily… My kids love it. It’s strange. Are you familiar with this movie, Polar Express?

I am. And the book.

[11:11]

To the North Pole, of course… This is the Polar Expres!

Tom Hanks… They did like live action motion. I don’t know what they did behind the scenes, but the faces on these characters are strange.

It was groundbreaking at the time, right?

Yeah, at the time it was, absolutely. It was one of the very first times they used motion cap and animation together that way. Yeah.

And the behind the scenes to that was phenomenal. You may not really care because it looks a little weird, comparative to how you can do it now. Like, Ready Player One for example is a phenomenal animated version of like – you almost can’t tell it’s not real. I mean, you know it is, because it looks so…

Fantastical.

Fantastical, yeah, probably… In comparison to Polar Express. You take those two side by side, Polar Express looks super-weird.

But at the time, it was groundbreaking. But the behind the scenes of like all the stuff involved there… Or even like – what’s his name, who plays Dr. Strange?

Benedict Cumberbatch, yeah.

I think he was a tiger, or something like that, in a film… And there’s a behind the scenes of like him with all the diodes on his face, and in this crutch… You would never expect this actor to do this thing. There’s a behind the scenes of – I think he’s a tiger, maybe in Jungle Book, or something… I don’t know.

It sounds right.

He was an animal, and he had to act out this animal, and he was like vicious-looking. And he’s got like this black suit on, he’s got these wires hanging off of him, and all the diodes on his face, but… You just don’t get that unless you have the extras. Unless you have the behind the scenes, and the featurettes, and stuff like that.

Well, doesn’t that stuff hit YouTube now? Like, there’s other avenues that they do post…

It can…

It’s not collected in one collocated place for you to keep forever. That’s the problem.

I agree. It’s not a package.

That was the thing. And also, there’s less of an incentive for the studios to make them, because they’re like “Okay, well, people will stream it without or without it.” Once they can get data on how many people are listening to these things and how many people are watching these things… This is a good software analogy, too - on the one hand, it’s really great to get that telemetry, because you know what’s being used. On the other hand, it can kind of be a curse a little bit, because there are these things that might only be used by a certain subset of users, but are really beloved. And if you over index on data, which Netflix famously does do, I think you miss out on that.

They even had for a period of time - and I don’t know if they’re still available… I’ve found a way to rip some of them at some at one point, but it was difficult… But some of the Netflix original series, they had some audio commentary tracks, that Netflix had. I remember for the pilot of House of Cards, the director of that pilot episode did a really good commentary track, and they had some commentary tracks I think for some of the arrested development stuff when that came out. But then over time that sort of thing disappears, and you have this rot, and this loss of this great commentary… I mean, it might not be that important, but it’s just – you know, seeing how something was done… And people cared enough to share the process of how it was made.

[14:11] Oh, yeah.

Like, it’s not gonna appeal to everyone, but to the real lovers out there, it does. And for me - I mean, the reason I get so romantic about the DVD era is, as I said, I always loved movies as a kid… But there were only so many of them you could get. Mot everything was available on home video. And tapes were expensive and bulky… And then suddenly, we had this way where everything, things that had been out of print for years, for decades, it was just available. And I felt like I had this whole world open up to me, both seeing films I’d never seen before, or couldn’t see, but also being able to find out these tidbits about how it was done. And it makes me sad that 15-year-old Christina in the future, living in 2023, wouldn’t have that same access. Because it’s not there the same way. It’s just not.

Well, access is a very interesting point, because so far we’ve been talking about this in terms of collectors, and film lovers… There’s a very real group of people who are also losing their access to a large quantity of content, because streaming is here, but it’s not evenly distributed. I mean, I moved outside of the suburbs into the sticks a little while, and I actually had to go from streaming back to DVDs - this is 2018 time range, until we got better access, and I could cancel that and go back to streaming. And I was barely outside of the city. I mean, there’s a lot of people in rural areas who they got the DVD service not because they wanted the extras necessarily, but it’s like, that’s how they get their content.

Right. They just wanted to get it. No, you’re dead on. It’s easy for everybody to believe that wide broadband is everywhere, but it’s not… And that last mile thing, especially rural internet, especially in the United States, is a real problem. But it’s also a problem in parts of the world that are harder to get to, like Australia and New Zealand, where they’re just now starting to get fiber-like speeds… And yeah, these things - it’s a lot to process. I mean, this is one of the reasons why I think Microsoft was smart… And Sony as well, but they were smart to still have the disc era for this last generation of consoles, even though it would have been very easy to just go digital-only… Because in some of those cases you’re talking about titles that - you know, one title might take up half of your available memory, downloading patches and whatnot… But if you live someplace where your internet is not really, really great, you’re not gonna be able to play that game, let alone do online multiplayer.

Right. Netflix did release some numbers in the run-up to this, and I did some back of the napkin math… They said that their revenue from this division specifically had gone in the last year from 200 million annual revenue to 100 million. So like literally cut in half. So you can see that trend was just dropping precipitously… But even at $100 million, call it 10 bucks a subscriber - I’m not sure what the actual numbers are… I mean, we’re talking about 10 million subscribers still, at that point. I mean, that’s not an insignificant amount of humans. That’s still a lot of people.

No. Did you see the New York Times story that they did, interviewing the people who worked at the plant where they sent out the discs?

I’ll find it and I’ll link it to you in this chat… But it was really interesting, because they had this nondescript building in Los Angeles that they purposely did not make easily available, because they didn’t want people to come in and do it… And it’s interesting, some of the people who work out of this facility where they’ve been mailing out the discs have been working there for 15 years or more. And what’s great when you open the article - and I’m sure that the guys will put this in the show notes; there’s this great gif… Yes, that’s how I say it.

Oh, my goodness…

[17:51] …of how the machine works. And how it would basically just put in the disks, and put everything out to be mailed. But yeah, this was a really great kind of reflection… They show kind of the inner workings of the whole thing, how this was done. These folks, they’re losing their jobs, too. Which is sad, but it’s an interesting kind of testament to something that – the employees have a more sanguine attitude. Lorraine Sikora started at Netflix in 2008, and used to rip open envelopes; 650 envelopes an hour. When automation came, she was one of the few employees who traveled to the facility in Fremont to learn how to run the machines and pass that training on to others. Now she runs the floor. But yeah, ripping open 650 envelopes an hour? Like, that’s insane.

Imagine… That’s some skill right there. That’s some speed. How many do you do an hour, Adam?

I’ve got speed, but not that kind of speed. I bust through a few at a time. At least 10… That was the limit they let me get to at some point. If you call it ahead, you can actually go to a ten-at-a-time limit. Whereas on the web, you are limited to four.

Yeah, that’s right.

If you show up to this warehouse in LA, you might be able to get a whole bunch of them though.

Yeah. I do have to say, I do like the way they’ve done this. They’ve handled it really well. It’s been really classy…

Kinda cool.

Yeah, they handled it well.

And that’s nice to see. And honestly – you know, they tried to do away with this a decade ago with Qwikster… That debacle. Remember that?

Oh, yeah. Qwikster. I forgot all about it until you just said Qwikster. They tried to rename it.

What is Qwikster, remind me again?

So what happened was – yeah, Reed Hastings had a rare failure where he decided that they were going to split the DVD and the streaming services, and they were going to call the new thing Qwikster. And this was in October of 2011… And I think that it lasted like less than a week, because people were so outraged in 2011 by the idea of splitting the by-mail and the streaming service. They were gonna split it into two different services, and they were like “No, we can’t do this.” There was wide outrage. The name was derided, because it was spelled Qwikster, so it was terrible naming as well.

So it was announced in September of 2011, and then it was canceled in October of 2011. But it was just a complete cluster of epic proportions. People were so upset… And so I think that that’s one of the reasons they probably held off on getting rid of this for a long time… Because when they did finally split the two businesses - like I said, I was paying for a while, and then they just slowly just like stopped charging me, because it wasn’t renting out discs anymore… And I forgot about it. And then I thought for a while, I was like “Well, maybe I should resubscribe…” And I was like “Christina, you don’t ever take any discs out. You just buy them. If you can find it, you just buy it.” So I didn’t.

That’s like Apple removing the microphone jack, you know? That’s way early, wasn’t it?

That’s right.

Geez Louise…

I mean, I think to note, that they were too early. They were making the right decision, but they were doing it in 2011, where - at that time, the internet situation was not…

Nowhere near ready.

…anywhere close to what it is now. Exactly. It was nowhere near ready. I mean, that was when they were still trying to do the CDN deals with the ISPs, which they’ve been successful at, where the ISPs would have certain numbers of caching servers available to stream content more efficiently. You know, like the top 100 movies, or whatever. They weren’t even doing that yet. And so that was way too early for them to split, and rightfully, they backed away from that. But the stock went down by like 25%, or something. It was a massive, complete freefall.

I remember that.

People were so angry. It was the first time I can ever remember anyone been mad at Netflix for anything up to that point.

Yeah, because they were so beloved.

They were, yeah.

Break: [21:40]

What about Redbox?

Redbox is weird. So I don’t know who owns them right now… They’ve been sold a bunch of times.

Have they been sold a couple times?

I didn’t pay attention to the business aspect of it, but… I liked Redbox because I can go get it, right then and there. I didn’t do too many – like, I didn’t need a Netflix subscription before, where I was constantly watching… And Redbox was on-demand.

No having to wait, right? That was the great thing.

You will never be able to guess who owns – because I did actually know this, and I forgot who the owner was. You will never be able to guess who the owner of Redbox is. In your wildest dreams you’ll never get it.

Mark Zuckerberg.

I was gonna say, we’ll pick the top five. It’s not Bezos… Um, Reed Hastings? I don’t know. Who owns it?

Blockbuster!

Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Chicken Soup for the Soul?

What is that?

So it was a book series, and then that became a consumer goods and media company. And that became a publishing thing, and then they acquired Redbox in 2022, for 375 million…

…which was down from where it was. Redbox was an interesting thing. Like, a lot of people blame Netflix for the death of Blockbuster… I actually think it was Redbox more than Netflix. Netflix definitely helped speed it up, because Blockbuster was bloated, and had a bad customer service thing and whatnot. But then they did introduce online ordering and whatnot in the early 2000s, because I used to use it and abuse their system. I would play both of them off against one another… And Blockbuster also had video games that you could rent. And you could return it to like a local store, but they just didn’t have the logistics engine the way that Netflix did. But I really think it was Redbox that kind of cemented the death of Blockbuster, because to your point, it was so much more convenient. You could just drive up and pick up a movie and grab it and go. And the same thing to rent it, and it was a buck. It was like “Okay, I just want to watch this and go. I don’t care.” And that was I think in that era when, again, maybe the extra features and things didn’t matter. We’re almost at streaming. Streaming is almost a reality. We’re not quite there, and this is the great kind of perfect thing to tie this over in the middle.

Speaking of a bygone era… I mean, when I was a kid, I lived at Blockbuster. We would go there all the time and just walk around. Because you’d spend more time looking for the movie than you would watching the movie…

It’s so crazy how things change like that… You would go to a physical building and look at movies, that you might not even watch any of them. Like, you’d watch one or two…

It was awesome, though. It was so much fun. And they had candy there you could buy… All sorts of stuff.

Yeah. The box art mattered, right? Like, what was on the back of the – the description, all that stuff mattered, because you didn’t know; you’d have to talk to the guy at the store… We had blockbusters and stuff, but my home video store was actually called Home Video, and it was like this two-story, huge video store, and they had like a marionette Pinocchio, I remember that. And they had a massive collection of stuff. Like, stuff that you couldn’t get anywhere else. And they had video games, too. But they had this promo they started - it was like five movies, for $5, for five nights, if it was not a new release. And they would have like a seven, for seven, for seven.

[26:02] And when my mom was in graduate school, she would take me to Home Video during the summers, and I would get a bunch of Nintendo and Super-Nintendo games, and I would get a bunch of VHS tapes. And that’s what I would do while she was in graduate school during the days. I would amuse myself by watching the collected works of Alfred Hitchcock, and Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola. And I’m like nine; I’m like nine or ten at this point.

Those are advanced for a nine-year-old…

No, I was super-into it. Because I would get into something, and I would talk – but that’s the thing, though… You’d talk to the video store guys… And I was a very small nine-year-old. At nine, I probably looked six. So I’m sure that they thought it was very odd that they’re having these high-level conversations about movies with someone who looks like she’s six years old. But they would give you advice, because that’s what they did all day. It was like the movie clerks, it was that sort of thing, where – just these guys spending all day talking about movies with customers, and you would get suggestions for things. They’d say, “Oh, well, you liked this. You should watch this.” And I would go “Oh, I liked this. Let me get all the movies by this director.” And what would you do? There was like an almanac, some sort of book that someone had, of like all sorts of movie reviews… I remember that’s what I would use as my proto IMDb to find out what were all the movies directed by a certain person. And then I would go to the video store and find them all.

My small town place was called Elmos, of all names.

Yeah, Elmos. It was the last name of these folks, and it was a computer repair shop and a DVD… Well, actually, part of DVDs. It was VHS…

Right.

And they also would deliver food to you.

Oh my gosh.

Oh, wow.

So it was like the great mixture of like a restaurant that delivered…

Proto DoorDash.

I was gonna say… Postmates is really what it was. That’s amazing.

Right. Legit. You can order a sub or a hoagie or whatever, however you want to call it… Or like spaghetti dinner. That was my favorite; it was two meatballs, and spaghetti dinner, and two movies. And they would deliver it to your house 10 miles away.

Classic.

That’s amazing.

That’s so cool.

And if you had a computer issue, they could take your computer and they would sell you one, or help you fix it… It was gaming… Like, it was the coolest.

It almost sounds like the greatest place in the world.

[laughs Yeah, it does.

Yeah. Elmos, Brownsville, Pennsylvania. If you’re ever there, go to Elmos. Elmos.co.

Are they still around?

Elmos.co is the domain name. Yeah.

So Home Video did not have a good ending… It was very sad and awkward. So Blockbuster started to encroach, and open bigger and bigger stores. And they were, being forced out. So, you notice, they always had an adult section… These adult sections started getting bigger and bigger. And then suddenly, it was like the entire second floor. And then it was like more and more. And then one day, Home Video became an adult shop. I felt like that was the ending of my childhood, when the video store became an adult store. [laughter]

They really found their niche, you know? They found their niche…

“What’s behind that door over there? What’s through there?”

[laughs]

That’s exactly what I was thinking. I was like “What is all this stuff?” I didn’t understand… And then as the DVD era went on and they hit harder times, they had to lean more into that… But that really felt like the death of my childhood, when my Home Video store became something else. But it almost sounds like the greatest place in the world. Genuinely.

Yeah, it was super-cool. Good people. And I went to school with the son of the dad who – their family ran the thing.

That’s cool. Family-run.

I love that they just deliver spaghetti meatballs to your house.

I’m curious though if this media is dying though, what happens with Redbox? Does Redbox go away? What do you think’s gonna happen there? They’re kiosks.

Well, they’ve shut down a lot of them. I think it depends… I mean, they’ll still be around for the big releases, but they have far fewer of them than they used to. I don’t know. I mean, it’s interesting… There’s always this chance of having kind of a resurgence. It will never be as big, but you see what’s happened with the vinyl… Vinyl now outsells CDs significantly, and it’s still a fraction of what it was at its peak… But I don’t know. I think that’s why Redbox was sold to Chicken Soup for the Soul, which - it makes no sense that; whoever owned it was like “Yup, we probably need to get out of this space.”

[30:08] Yeah. Well, what’s required? You’ve got tech required, you have to have a BluRay or DVD player… So there’s a requirement of like Sony, and all the big manufacturers of hardware to keep making their hardware, or repairing the hardware. So there’s a requirement of sorts… Whereas –

Yeah, but content. Are they still making them? When Dune 2 comes out, will there’ll be a BluRay that’ll have stuff on it, and stuff?

Yeah, usually. What’s interesting for TV shows a lot of times is they’ll release a DVD, but not a BluRay version. And they’ll release an HD digital version that you can buy, and a DVD version on disk. You know, it’s in standard definition, and it’s usually widescreen, but not a BluRay version… Which is really weird. There must be some contingent still of people who are buying TV shows on DVD, probably for the internet connectivity reasons that we talked about earlier.

But it’s interesting that I’ve noticed that, that there’s – I would have assumed that everything would have gotten BluRay at this point, because the cost cannot be any different, and the master that you’re getting it off of is going to be high definition anyway… But weirdly, you still see, in some cases, things coming out on DVD, not BluRay, which is odd…

I get upset when I rip discs and it’s not friendly. There might be like 35 of the title. And literally, there’s not 35 of them on there…

Oh, they’re obfuscating stuff to make you mad?

Right. So when you open – I use MakeMKV, like most people probably do.

I bought a license for it, and everything, because it’s amazing software… But for example, the one recently I was upset by was Cabin in the Woods.

[31:44]

I think I can get it to go down…

Do we wanna go down?

I could not rip it; it just would not work. It would never work. And there’s 35 of the main title in there, and… You might be able to rip it eventually, but scenes would move in the film, so much so that it would ruin the film, so it’s like not worth it. I just wonder, in an era where there’s still people who care about keeping, I suppose, is there a way to have friendliness, I suppose, to the rippers? I’m not even sure what you call folks like those. Are we rippers? What are we?

Collectors?

To be able to have that copy forever on my own disk, so that I can – like, what about handing it down to your people, like your lineage? I think like collections – I’ve got my dad’s record collection; Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath… I have his vinyl.

That’s awesome.

How are they going to get my movies in the future, my kids?

Is that necessarily malice, though? Or could it be incompetence?

What do you mean?

Like Cabin in the Woods, the way that they did that.

Oh, in that case it’s definitely – I can’t imagine it’s not part of the plan… Of like DRM type stuff. Yeah, it’s on purpose.

They’re making it hard on you on purpose.

Yeah. Yeah. For sure. It’s definitely not Plex-friendly.

Yeah. Are you familiar with Collide Escape?

Okay, so the company has a really storied history, but basically, they make very high-end movie players and servers for the types of people who have millions of dollars to spend on their home theater system, and will be able to buy the super-expensive Crestron-controlled audio, and lighting, and everything, setups… And basically, these are servers, and many times they are actually server-sized things that can act as a movie player for 4k UHD. And there’s various ways you can get the content imported. But what they used to have, their original product - and they were sued for this - was that they would let you take… It was very user-friendly, and they’d let you take a disk that you owned, and drop it into their system, and it would rip it, and rip everything perfectly, and it would put it in the library, just like a Plex for you, and then you would have it available. And everyone loved it. But they were sued, and they had to change how they worked, to a certain amount. It’s amazing that they’re still in business… I’m very happy for them.

[34:03] You know what - I can just say it now, because enough time has passed… But I had a meeting with the then head of Warner Brothers home entertainment, probably a decade ago; maybe a little bit more than that. And we were talking about some of the issues of around like Vudu, and Movies Anywhere, Disney’s platform, which at the time was I think called magic key and whatnot… And we were talking about whether or not Warner Brothers was going to sign on or not, and he was talking to me about Collide Escape, and he was like “I love this so much… But we’re suing them, so I can’t tell anybody that I have this.” And the guy who was Kevin Tsujihara, who wound up becoming the president of Warner Brothers Entertainment, like the chairman and CEO of Warner Brothers. He had to resign because of some stuff, but this was maybe two months before he was promoted, and he was talking to me about how everybody in Hollywood who was suing this company, all of the executives had these things in their houses, and were using them. That to me kind of percents the perfect – like the friction point between these two things, where you have people who love this stuff so much, and then you have people who just only see the business goals, and want to make it as difficult as possible for people to do the right thing…

Cutthroat.

And to me, it seems so unnecessary, because only the people who really care are going to want to go through all the effort to preserve things, and have it in that quality. And the people who just want to rip and pirate things will always find a way to do that.

For sure.

To me, it feels so stupid to spend your time putting in this DRM stuff, for Cabin in the Woods, when you could just not, and let people who have bought it legally watch it in a way that will be efficient so they can watch it on their couch, or they can watch it 3,000 miles away, if they’re on a trip, on their iPad. Like, who cares? It’s mine. I gave you the money for it.

That’s what I did recently. We went to St. Louis recently for the final Strange Loop conference, and prior to my trip I pulled down a few episodes - of course, Jerod - of Silicon Valley…

Of course…

From Plex onto my iPhone, so that I can watch it on the way. And I paid for the discs, I own the seasons, and I ripped it onto my Plex server, and I bought those hard drives, and I maintain that hardware, and I installed all the Linux… All the things. It’s all for the love.

You’re going out of your way more than 99% of people would.

Because you care. I mean, I feel the same way. Look, there’s a lot of content on my Plex server that I’m not going to pretend like I have, you know, the squeaky clean origins of it. But there’s a whole bunch of stuff there that does. I’d always joke, I was like “If anybody ever wanted to–” I know that this wouldn’t be a defense, but if anybody wanted to sue me for copyright infringement or something, I would just cart in all of the media that I bought, and just be like “Okay, this is the person you’re suing. This is who you’re going after.”

I would show my box of 4k movies. Trying to even pick it up, it’s so heavy; it’s so heavy, you can’t even lift it.

Wouldn’t that be an awesome scene in a movie though, where you like roll into the courthouse, and you’re just like dropping them everywhere? Like, “Look who you’re suing.”

They just splatter out onto the floor…

And the jury just starts applauding you, you know… [laughs]

Exactly. “I spent more on this than I spent on my car.” Yeah…

DRM has always to me been just a cat and mouse game that was never going to be worth it for the cat, I guess; for the DRM enforcer. Like, it just never was gonna be worth it for them.

No. And you know what happened? It went away for a long time when you could stream a lot of stuff, and when streaming was easy. Now, of course, they’re raising prices… Which makes sense. Prices should go up a little bit. I think some of the streaming companies are getting a little ridiculous, but they’re raising prices… And they’re restricting how you can log in with things.

Look, if Netflix wants to enforce not giving your password to 500 different people, I get it. But I pay you for X number of users a month. I pay them whatever the highest amount of money you can pay Netflix is for their 4k account. I should not have to make sure that my Fire TV stick, which I keep in my suitcase and I never take out, because I use it when traveling… I shouldn’t have to connect that to my home network every three months, just so the IP address is the same as where I live, so that you don’t cut off access. When you do things like that, that’s when I’m going to go back to Popcorn Time, and stuff like that. Like, that’s when that happens again.

[38:27] Right. It’s customer-hostile.

Yeah. Because when everything was less customer-hostile, the piracy problems went away. Andy Baio of waxy.org fame, every year he used to track how long it would take for the Oscar screeners to leak online. And he had to stop doing it, because basically, the problem kind of went away. The studios kind of won, because they’ve gotten everything online and made it easier for the people who wanted to watch the stuff to watch the stuff. And that’s a win, but then you ruin all that by adding in all these layers and being customer hostile, and making it difficult for people to do things. Like, I wanna watch Cabin in the Woods without the scenes being messed up just because I want to watch it in a different location.

Knives Out. That’s another one, too. I was upset about that.

Good movie.

[39:15]

I suspect foul play. I have eliminated no suspects.

I can only watch it by putting my disc back into the – so I’ve gotta maintain a BluRay player… Which is not the worst ever. But it’s now a hardware requirement, and I have to have it plugged into the wall, so I have to maintain one outlet for it in the many outlets I have to have in my home theater… You know, I’ve got to maintain certain things because I can’t do things the Plex way, so to speak.

So the chapters are out of order when you rip it, the chapters get out of order? Is that how it plays out?

Yeah. It’s strange, because – Uncut Gems is another one. I’ve got to keep putting my disc back in to rewatch this. So I rewatched the movie less even. I get to enjoy the film less, because it’s not competing anymore. It’s unfortunate; it really boils my blood… In particular Uncut Gems; it’s just a scene switch. For whatever reason, it cuts to the other scene quickly, and comes back to the normal flow of the film… But for whatever reason, it happens in Knives Out, it happens in Cabin in the Woods… And it’s just a – I don’t even know how to describe why they would even do it, aside from… You can still rip the film, but it’s just out of order. If that’s on purpose, and not just like a software glitch as a way of MakeMKV getting around the DRM, and that’s an artifact of breaking the DRM… If that’s on purpose, somebody is cruel in those organizations.

Have you googled that? Because I feel like that’s something that somebody probably figured out somewhere…

I was gonna say, maybe there’s an update list, or something, or some way you could get – I was thinking the same thing. I was like maybe there’s some sort of XML file that can be appended to some things that it’ll play things back the right way.

You’ve really gotta want it then, right? I mean, you can, like –

Yeah, but you don’t want to have that BluRay player forever, right? Like, you might want it.

Yeah. And maybe there’s a way - and this is where I get super-nerdy… I’m like “Oh, there probably is a list.” And maybe there’s a way you could have that list, a text file or something check it for update…

Exactly.

…and run in the background as a daemon when you’re loading your Plex server.

Exactly.

I don’t know. But that would annoy me.

That’d be nice, if that would happen.

Enthusiasts find a way… Like life on Jurassic Park. It finds a way.

[41:21]

We’ve gotta do something about this. I’m pretty sure our washing machine is pregnant. I don’t even know how that’s scientifically possible.

Ah, life… Ah-ah-ah finds a way.

So if you’re listening to this and you know what Adam’s going through – because if it’s on Knives Out, and… I saw multiple movies doing this - somebody’s been mad enough that they figured out how to get this thing to work right.

And I’ve never been so committed to where I go and find this list.

Yeah, I was gonna say, this was with Lionsgate Films. So that’s the same studio, which means they’re using the same stuff.

See, she’s on it. Look at that.

You know the studios. Okay, so you’re really a film buff.

[41:55] Yeah. No – I didn’t even have to look that up. That’s the embarrassing thing about that, is that I did not even have to look that up. I was like “No, they’re both– “ First I said Paramount, and then I’m like “No, it’s Lionsgate. They’re both Lionsgate Films.”

I will say though, I’m very happy that 4k discs never have that happen.

Never. So when I rip a 4k disc – and that’s why I happily buy a 4k. I will buy it all day long. Because one, I get 4k and 1080p, so I can skip transcoding or I can have both versions of it, or whatever… It never happens with 4K content. So I just – like Top Gun recently, I watched it for the first time in my own home theater. I waited. Yeah… I have 120-inch screen, Christina…

Oh, my gosh.

It’s a microperf, it’s a Stewart screen, custom size from my room, 120 inches… I’ve got –

Do you have a kaleidoscope thing?

No… But I looked it up and it’s $13,000.

Well, they start at like 4,000, but yeah…

Yeah… Well, this one is 22 terabytes. It’s the Kaleidescape Strato C Plus Tara Prime bundle, that’s what this is… For $13,099. Yes, it’s a lot.

It’s for a very specific class of user…

Yeah, I’m not like a million-dollar person by any means, but I definitely enjoy it to the point where I’ve put a screen, I’ve got a 4k projector…

He’ll drop some coin on it.

I was gonna say, what projector do you have? Because your custom screen sounds great, but what projector do you have?

If I can recall correctly, it’s the Epson – let me look it up real quick.

Yes, because Epson makes good projectors, from what I understand.

LS12000 is what it is. The Epson LS12000. It’s a 4k native Pro UHD Laser Projector. And I got it at a decent discount, too. It was like four grand. That’s a discount.

Yeah, I was gonna say, I’m looking this up right now, I’m like “Yeah, okay, this is a $5,000 projector. This is not a joke.”

Yeah. It should have been five; it ended up being four. It’s a legit home theater.

I was gonna say, this would be very similar to what they would have in like a movie theater.

Well, pretty close… And I have theater seats. I’ve got seven seats in my theater.

Oh, my God.

Now you’re just bragging about this stuff… [laughs]

Yeah, I’m bragging a little bit.

No, I love this for you. This is amazing.

I do too. This is awesome.

And I have a Denon head unit for the receiver. I’ve got Klipsch THX speakers in wall; one behind the screen, the center channel, and it’s vertical, versus horizontal, sadly… Left, right, and I’ve got one pair of Atmos, and two subs.

Two subs.

Oh, yeah.

One for each foot, or – I mean, what’s the point of having two subs?

Having been a single-sub owner in the past, I will never be a single-sub owner ever again. The way to go is dual subs. Yeah, it’s like left and right. It’s so cool.

God, I wonder how much it would cost…

I live in Austin. So if ever you’re in the town, stop by.

I will definitely stop by… But you should talk to the Alamo Drafthouse people about this. I wonder how much it would cost for you to be able to get in with the studios, so that you could be hooked up to whatever the movie theater chain system is, of getting the file so you could just natively show stuff…

Hook me up.

Start charging admission.

I was gonna say, you should contact the Alamo Drafthouse people. They might be able to help you… Because I know that the cost to rent out a theater is way less than I thought it would be. And so it might be one of those things where occasionally you might be able to be like “Hey, if I want to spend 200 bucks, I could get a movie that’s in theaters, and actually watch it in my own theater, while it’s out there.” You might be able to swing that.

Pretty cool for a birthday, or something.

Yeah, it would be cool.

Yeah, it would be cool, because your setup sounds like it probably would be within spec, I’m guessing, of what some of the films that they deliver are.

It is… I only did that after – this is like after many, many years of my life dreaming. Like, I didn’t just suddenly be like “Let me just spend all this money doing this.” I started reading Crutchfield magazines at like 10 years old, or whatever. And I learned all about home theater, and gear, and equipment, and channels, and all these different things through Crutchfield. The Crutchfield brand is amazing. I still buy almost everything I can from Crutchfield. My TVs I bought from Crutchfield, most speakers through them… My subs were from Crutchfield… So sometimes you price things out, because like, I’m not gonna spend two grand more when I can get it for a grand less, or whatever. I’m not going to do every possible thing. But I love Crutchfield. They’re always amazing. It’s a great brand. They’re not sponsoring this, of course… Crutchfield.com.

[46:13] Crutchfield.com… [laughs]

But they’re amazing. And I learned everything. And so I’ve been dreaming since I was super-young about over my life eventually getting to like a home theater level. I remember when my very first credit card, the JCPenney credit card, I bought a crappy little 5.1 system, like JVC or something like that, from JCPenney, on my credit card… And that was my first setup.

JVC makes good stuff, man…

But over the years, just over time, incrementing to better and better.

Yeah, you’ve built up.

No, that’s amazing. And I love this. And I love that you’ve built this out. I’ve always wanted something like that, and I’ve never been as dedicated as you are to wanting to like make that a goal. But I love that you’ve been able to do this. That’s amazing. I love that. And also, as somebody who’s also 10 years old reading Crutchfield, and loving all that stuff… That’s really cool, to see somebody who – as a kid you wanted these things, and now you have it. And you have literally – when people say “Oh, I have a home theater system”, you’re like “No, I actually have a home theater.” It’s pretty close.

It’s actually a theater.

My kids - so I’ve got a seven-year-old and a three-year-old. And they sit down with me and watch films… Not all things. Like, we’ll watch The Grinch, and like kids stuff. The Super-Mario Brothers movie’s on there… We just got the 4k version of it recently, because we bought it through Apple TV when it first came out. We cannot wait. We watched it in the theater… That was amazing. These kids love that film, and I loved it, because it was just an amazing, amazing version of it. And so we bought it on Apple TV. And then it came out on disk, and then we finally got the 4k version of it. So we have that on Plex now, thankfully. And it’s just so amazing to watch 4k content on a 4k-native laser projector, on a phenomenal screen. That’s not what the show is about, but it was pretty awesome to – and I designed it all. I didn’t obviously design the screen, but like the whole room is - I chose every component, specifically, after many years of research, and what I can afford, and what would fit in the room, and what would make sense, and all that good stuff. But it’s been a labor of love to get to that point, because it takes work.

Break: [48:13]

I did want to ask you, though… So you mentioned buying stuff on Apple TV. So I still do this, because they have sales all the time, and I am nothing if not someone who spends money indiscriminately on stupid stuff… Do you also buy digital copies of things? Because I find that I do. For things that I really love, I get like the 4k UHD disc, and I’ll rip it. But for a number of things, it’ll just be easier if it’s five bucks or something to get it on Apple TV, because I find their 4k - it’s not obviously as good as watching it ripped, but I find the quality is, in many cases, if I’m not, like - because I don’t have a set up like yours - it’s indistinguishable from what I could have. So do you buy any digital copies of anything, or are you strictly physical?

I’ll buy digital copies when I can’t wait, essentially. So in the case of Super Mario Brothers, we wanted to watch that again, because the kids just loved it so much… So we were gonna rent it. And I think to rent it was 20, and to buy it was 25, I think…

Yeah. Yes.

So I’m like “Why would I not just buy it, spend five bucks more to own it digitally?” And I use Apple TV exclusively, in most cases. However, I will say, I recently bought an NVIDIA Shield, and I think that’s pretty awesome, too. The Shield is better than an Apple TV.

Thee NVIDIA Shield is great device.

That’s also in my theater, and it’s pretty awesome.

Yeah, the NVIDIA Shield is a great device, and what’s nice about it is you could use the Apple TV app on it, the Android app on it; that way, you can still access all of your Apple content that way.

Yes. I was happy when Apple did that. They were exclusively against any other platforms, and they realized “Well, we’re now a production house. We need to be everywhere.” So distribution is key, right?

“We’re not just the device itself, we’re also the production house, so we have to be everywhere.”

“We have to be everywhere.” No, when they made that distinction, I was so happy too, because I was somebody who’s like – I mean, the Movies Now service that Disney owns, and a lot of studios participate in, but not all… Not Lionsgate, not Paramount… There are a couple of other smaller ones. It means that your libraries will reflect back on one another. So if you buy it on Google Play, or on Amazon, or on the Microsoft thing, it’ll also be in your iTunes library and vice versa… Which is nice, but there will be a ton of stuff that I would have – obviously, the 4k stuff would all be on iTunes, and there’d be some stuff that’ll only be on iTunes, or Apple TV, whatever… And I was like “Okay, I don’t want to travel with an Apple TV for this stuff. I’m gonna have to find a way to rip this.” And then as you said, when they realized they were a production house too, and they had to have wider distribution, and they brought that to all of the other devices, I was like “Okay, thank you. This is good.”

Yeah. Here’s the things I concern myself with… I recall an interview with Matt Damon, talking about the change in the film business, essentially…

[55:02]

The DVD was a huge part of our business, of our revenue stream. And technology has just made that obsolete. The movies that we used to make, you could afford to not make all of your money when it played in the theater, because you knew you had the DVD coming behind the release, and six months later you’d get all a whole other chunk; it would be like reopening the movie almost. And when that went away, that changed the type of movies that we could make. I have to split everything I get with the exhibitor, the people who own the movie theaters… So I would have to make $100 million before I got into profit. The idea of making $100 million on a story about lik this love affair between these two people… Yeah, I love everyone in the movie, but that’s suddenly a massive gamble, in a way that it wasn’t in the 1990s when they were making all those kinds of movies, the kind of movies that I loved, and the kind of movies that were my bread and butter.

[55:55] So there’s a couple things I worry about. One, how does the end of physical media change humanity’s relationship with the content, both for games, and for films etc. but then also, how does that really change long-term the business of filmmaking? Because you have to essentially come out – you only invest in blockbusters. Or you kind of get in this position where you can only really bet on the winners, so there’s less innovation, there’s less risk… So you sort of have Transformers - which isn’t a bad film, but like it’s only about blow’em up, car chases, killing people, or whatever. There’s like one shot to get it right, essentially.

Going back to the well and just doing what’s safe every time.

Yeah, exactly. And you get rinse-repeat.

And you miss out on things. No, I think you’re exactly right. I mean, I would argue that this is one of the reasons why Netflix has stagnated a little bit, is that they do everything from a data-driven perspective, and not from more of an artistic perspective… And so if you just follow the numbers, and you just give everybody the cookie cutter Marvel stuff - that’s great, you can make a lot of money off of it, but where does that leave those small films that could actually grow into something huge? Like, some of the most beloved films of all time took a long time for people to really get to know and love. The Wizard of Oz was not a hit when it was released.

[57:12]

You cursed brat! Look what you’ve done!

It lost money for Warner Brothers, actually. It wasn’t a flop, but it was not the hit that they thought it was going to be. And it was only when it was released in the ’40s and then in the ’50s that it became this cultural iconic thing, where everybody in the world knows it, right? Yeah, I had the same concerns you do. I think it was on Hot Ones when Matt Damon was talking about that…

Yeah, that’s what it was. You’re right.

And he gave a perfect answer… But I do worry about that, because we used to have movies with $20 million budgets, and we don’t anymore. It’s either micro, micro-budget, or super-huge. It’s like 2 or 200 million. There’s no in-between. And that sucks, because there are a lot of really good, smaller films that – and that’s how you get new IP, right? The Barbie movie - I don’t know if either of you saw it - was really fantastic.

Not yet.

But even though it was taking existing IP, it obviously was also kind of a new thing… And the screenplay is fantastic, and how they were able to thread the needle between being obviously a consumeristic kind of play, but also winking and nodding and kind of making fun of the very thing that is at its core really worked so well. It nailed it. But that film, I think the budget was like maybe 100 million, which two decades ago would have seemed huge, but now is kind of more small. And it’s gone on to be the biggest grosser of the year… And it’s one of those things where if you just saw the pitch, and if it didn’t have Barbie attached to it, if you just saw the pitch of the storyline, I don’t know if that would get greenlit. And that’s disappointing, because obviously, the audience is there for it, right?

You mentioned Knives Out earlier - that’s another example. That was a smaller film, and that was a surprise hit for Lionsgate. They did not expect that to be the hit that it was.

I’m surprised, it was such a good storyline.

A great storyline, right? But again, this is an original story, and studios used to always have the thing – they’re kind of like venture capitalists, where they would be like “Okay, it’s gonna be the one big hit… The five big hits we get a year will pay for everything else”, and that’s just the cost of doing business. And now there’s this expectation that everything has to be the big hit, and you don’t get to take chances. And look, sometimes the smaller films flop and they don’t do anything, and sometimes they wind up having a second or third life, and sometimes they turn out to be The Silence of the Lambs, which was released by a studio in bankruptcy, in March, the worst time of year to release a film… Yeah, it had an Oscar winner attached to it, but the storyline was not something that you would think would sell the audiences, and it goes on to be, at the time, an incredibly high grosser for an R rated film, and wins massive Academy awards, and is considered one of the greatest films of all time. And again, a bankrupt studio put that out.

[01:00:09.21] There’s a part of the business that you can optimize for, and that makes sense, but there’s some stuff that I think just happens, and you have to take artistic chances on, and that have to be about more than money. And that’s, to me, what has always made movies great, is that there can be room for both. And I worry that we’re getting away from having room for both.

Yeah. This is the beginning of no physical media…

I think so. Netflix DVD has been the largest distributor in the last decade probably, five years least, of physical media…

Probably decades, honestly…

Okay. I mean, I know it’s been decades long, just, I mean – because you can still purchase. But distribution…

I’m thinking probably them and Redbox, right? They would be the two that’d be vying for it, in terms of – who we’d be buying the most copies of stuff, it’d be those two.

Yeah. I still stream, too. I’m not watching everything I ever watch on Plex. I’m not that kind of person, like “Must be ripped, must be on Plex to watch.” No, it’s not like that. But for the things like Silicon Valley - Jerod, you know how often I referenced this; if I didn’t have that on Plex…

How often do you reference it?

…I would be upset with life. Like, to be in a world where you cannot own Seinfeld, all the seasons… Right?

To go back and watch - I’m blanking on the name, for whatever reason, but Larry David’s thing?

Oh, yeah, Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Yes, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Like, I’m not fully through that, because I haven’t watched it all, but I went and bought it, because I’m like “You know what - I want to watch it on my own time. The studios will eventually take it away, they want to control it, so while I can, I’m going to get it on Plex.” But this is the end of it, though. This is like the beginning of the end of that era, and it’s sad.

It is, it is sad. Homicide: Life on the Street, which is one of the greatest TV shows of all time, is not available streaming anywhere. It is available on DVD, and I haven’t ripped to my Plex. That’s like another example; these are these things that – like, you’re right, we’re going to lose so much without all this stuff. It’s sad. And I don’t think it’s just like two old people yelling at the cloud, right?

No. I’m a buyer. I’m a lover of film, and I purchase the things in almost every case possible… And I’m a fan of physical media, I’m a fan of the fact that my dad’s records were passed on to me, and I think that we’re in an era where that’s just not a possibility anymore, from here on out, basically. The ownership of it is gone. We sort of rent everything, and the ownership is not there.

No, I think you’re exactly right. And it makes me think a lot about how important it is for us to also start archiving these digital things, and to think very seriously about how we make archives of these digital things DRM or not, just because it would be much easier for those things to go away, right? Because there will come a day when there are films or TV shows or other things that are never going to have any sort of physical release. That’s already happened in some cases, but there will come a day when that is going to be more common, and it will be important for us to start to preserve these things digitally. I’ve thought a lot about digital preservation for a long time. I think that’s why organizations like the Internet Archive are so important. Not just the Wayback Machine, but a lot of the work they do… Because there’s so much stuff out there that’s in our culture that only exists in certain formats; old software, and… You can think about like iPhone apps, right? There are whole generations of iPhone apps that we will never have access to again, because they were 32-bit and they ran on old versions of an operating system that you can’t run in a VM anywhere. And there’s not like a library of those IPA files. Some people might have hoarded them, but it’s not like they’re preserved someplace where you can download them all. And that sucks, right? Like you said, your dad could pass down his vinyl collection to you. You could pass down like maybe your video game collection to your kids… But they’re not going to be able to do the same with their kids. And that makes me sad.

[01:03:54.05] I don’t know what exactly is the answer, but it’s more like as a humanity, do we just care less? Does that sort of instill a lack of care, or a lack of longevity, or a lack of long-term thinking? Because a lot of corporations are quarter by quarter, or people think in the present moment for the most part, not tomorrow, and the choices they’re making generally aren’t for “Well, I’m doing this today because of two years from now” kind of thing. Does that just make us more transient and just care less?

I mean, I think it does, but I think that that’s to our detriment, right? Because think about all the things we would have lost if people hadn’t been smart enough to microfiche newspapers, and preserve other records. I mean, even talking about film, one of the coolest things that I’ve ever had the opportunity to do was I got to go to Sony’s facilities where they were doing restoration of old film. And some stuff that they were worried had been lost, and the amount of care and work that go into that preservation, the scanning in every single frame, and then detailing that, and getting that into that 4k quality… There are people who do this work, the archive is out there, and I so appreciate the work they do. I wish that I guess we could, as a culture, maybe have more of a discussion about that. Like, look, I’m not asking to keep the physical media around; I get that it doesn’t make sense from a space level and whatnot. We might have an attachment to it, but I get it. But can we at least keep the permanence of what it represented? Can that still be part of our culture going forward, where at least we have – we can still move forward, but will we still have a legacy, right?

If I could digitally buy anything, I would buy today on an actual disk. If this was like a societal agreement, to some degree, where let’s say the most recent really interesting film I bought that I just had to get was Top Gun Maverick.

[01:05:50.12]

Captain Pete Maverick Mitchell…

I’m a huge fan of the first one. I wanted to wait till I was in my home theater to watch this latest one. I resisted the theaters, and I was like “I know I’ll eventually get here.” And we’ve just built our house this last year, and moved in in June, so it’s a new thing… If there was a way I could buy that digitally and get a version that would like run on a known operating system like Plex, for example, like a movie operating system, if there was a digital artifact that I can also purchase, that I would have forever, that wasn’t like a DRM thing, that was like an MKV file thing, then I would be okay with evolving. I’m not against evolution. What I’m sort of against is what that represents, to some degree, for the future. Like, how will my kids rewatch these films we’ve watched, with their kids, 20 years from now? I mean, it’s not very far away. 20 years is not very far away… You know?

It’s really not. And you’re right. It’s like, what, do we have URLs that are not going to resolve anymore–

Exactly.

…to a playlist? Like, what are we supposed to do? Yeah.

And it’s historical, in a way… When my life is gone, and the things that I care for are no longer cared for, are they just digital dust at that point? Like, sure, you still have the hard drive; maybe you have to learn how to manage ZFS on Linux… There’s still access. I mean, these are open source tools… But do they just go away? If aliens come and find us, “What did Adam care about?” and there’s no physical thing to grasp, then I don’t really exist. It’s almost like erasing people, in a way. It’s a version of that, at least; it’s an erasure process. If you can’t determine what I cared for, based upon physical evidence, did I exist at all? Maybe… Maybe not…

That’s a really amazing existential question. I like that.

It’s too deep. It’s too deep for – maybe it’s just deep enough.

I think it’s just deep enough.

Films are a part of who we are. I can remember watching Boiler Room. And I’ve always been in a sales type role… And back in the day I thought Boiler Room was the best. Like, Ben Affleck saying “We don’t hire brokers, we train new ones.”

[01:07:59.03]

Okay, before we get started, I have one question. Has anyone here passed a series seven exam?

I have a series seven license.

Good for you. You can get out, too.

What? Why?

We don’t hire brokers here. We train new ones.

Like, that was a classic line. And Ben Affleck didn’t have a big role in that film, but that was a good – or Glengarry Glen Ross was just a –

I was gonna bring that up; that that’s the quintessential one.

“Coffee’s for closers.”

[01:08:20.29]

Put that coffee down. Coffee’s for closers only.

Those are movies I grew up on. They’re part of – you know, when you peel back the layers of Adam, you’re gonna find in there Glengarry Glen Ross, you’re gonna find Boiler Room and a couple others that sort of define me. Cold Trickle, Days of Thunder… These are films we grew up on. It’s part of history. Anyways… Well, we had to talk to somebody that could feel what we feel when hearing this news… So Netflix last Friday, September 29th, shipped its last disc, and that’s the beginning of an end for physical media… And we had to commiserate with somebody that could feel the same pain we felt. We’re glad you could join us for that.

Thank you very much for letting me reminisce, and feel sad… But also, good memories, too. Before we end, what was the last disc that they sent you? Or what was the last disc that you requested?

This is not going to be the best list ever, by any means, but it’s an example of my interests, I suppose… Splash was in them. I really got into A24 recently…

I love their films.

Under the Skin, The Witch, Under the Silver Lake, V for Vendetta, Hot Summer Nights… Call me weird, but The Purge, the very first one… It’s the beginning of a really interesting film style. It Comes at Night, First Reformed, and Zombieland, and Meet the Parents, and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids… Just a random mix of interesting films.

I love it. And they’re still going to send your box of extras. You’ll have to keep us updated as to what those are.

I think so. I mean, I did follow the email, and the link, and said “I’m interested, send me the extras.” We’ll see. I think they meant that “We’re not promising–” I forget what language they used, but like “It’s not a promise. You may or may not get this”, and I said “Hey, I’ll opt in if I can.”

Considering the fact that you actually called them up, so that you could –

Get the bigger plan?

…get the bigger plan, I have a feeling that if anybody’s looking at stuff, they’d be like “Okay, yeah, this is a guy that we’re actually –”

Yeah, “We should give it to the people who are diehards.”

Yeah. I was gonna say, you’re on a list somewhere of like a very, very important user, so I’m sure they’ll send you stuff.

Hopefully… But I guess this is goodbye, Netflix.

Goodbye, yeah.

DVD, at least. Not Netflix but the prop part (dvd.com). Yeah, that’s crazy. Well, thanks, Christina. It was fun having you.

Yes. Thanks. That was awesome.

And thanks for talking through all the details, and sharing – like, you’ve got so much knowledge behind you. You’re similar geek to me, but geekier in so many other ways. I love it. And you’ve get some rich history as well. Things I would not even expect you to know, like Lionsgate; you called that out… I know those things, but it’s not in my RAM. It’s in long-term storage for me, you know? For you, it’s right there. Quick Access. I love it.

Thank you so much. Thank you for having me, I really appreciate it. I’d love to be back on, and talking about my favorite thing other than tech, which is movies. And actually, really the intersection of these two worlds is my very favorite thing of all… So thank you for letting me do that.

Absolutely.

Bye, friends.

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