Qflix, The future of Independent Direct to Video Content?

In previous entries I’ve discussed DVD rental kiosks allowing storefronts to offer for more titles than they offered in the physical form. This is great for major film studios which can only put out a small fraction of the content they have available. Take for example entertainment giant Warner Bros. Jim Wuthrich, senior vice president of digital distribution at Warner Bros., notes that of the company’s 6600 films, only 1500 have been released on DVD. At any given moment, only 300 of Warner’s 1500 DVD titles may be available on a store shelf. That’s a staggering number of titles that are not released or even available for sale, limiting the company’s profitability. By allowing a retailer to carry all movie titles on a hard drive, which can be burnt right away with copy protection, then its extra money in the pockets of the retailer and the studios.

That’s great for the major studios and retailers, but what about the “little guy”? How does this benefit the independent film producer trying to distribute their productions? That’s where a new technology called Qflix comes into play. Qflix is a new technology which should be available within the 1st or 2nd quarter of 2008 that allows anyone to burn projects onto Qflix DVD media from a Qflix capable DVD burner with copy protection. The basic concept is that the Qflix media holds one part of the Content Scramble System (CSS), which is the industry standard for copy protection on DVD discs, and the burner encodes the remaining CSS code onto the burnt disc. The Qflix enabled CSS DVD’s are 99% compatible with all DVD players on the market.

So why does Qflix give an advantage to the small producer? The concept is simple, with advances in video cameras and home editing systems, almost anyone can create a major studio quality product on a budget. The problem was always production and distribution. In order to make a DVD with copy protection, one would have to have all the copies made through replication. In order for most replicators to even startup their equipment they would need to make a minimum quantity of 1000 pieces. Being independent, it’s near impossible to find shelf space in major retailers, meaning they need to create their own retail channels.

Now imagine that this independent producer can make only the copies they need when they need them. That gives them the flexibility to make small quantity runs or large volume runs depending on the demand for their project. This puts the power back in their hands and should encourage many more bourgeoning film makers to become the next Steven Spielberg.

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