THE HOLLYWOOOD REPORTER 1994
The New Deal
BY HOLLY WILLIS
Sharp producers are discovering fresh outlets for their product, from the Internet to virtual reality.
Experimental video "Wax" made waves on the Internet last year.
May 23, 1993, David Blair "screened" his experimental video "Wax, or the Discovery of Television \mong the Bees" on the Internet. While the feature-length video did not draw the mass audience of "surfers" that we know traverse the 'net daily, the event nevertheless did gamer considerable attention. The New York Times likened the screening to Alexander Graham Bell's breakthrough moment with the telephone. Indeed, the event was revolutionary in suggesting the radical potential for independent producers' new outlets, which today, in addition to the 'net, include the burgeoning cable market, interactive games, and yes, virtual reality.
Blair showcased another version of "Wax" at last month's SIGGRAPH convention; the expanded video is a quadralingual hypertext version with several thousand hypertext links, thousands of stills and more than 500 digital segments that viewers may access via the 'net across most platforms.
Viewers were able to add text, audio and video to the original version; each viewer's version was also accessible. Just as the original screening of "Wax" over the Internet suggested an entirely new form of film and video delivery, the SIGGRAPH event offers an example of the manner in which modes of delivery and reception are shifting radically.
Technological advances and legislative shifts have also greatly altered the cable sphere, making it increasingly significant as a new outlet for independent producers. On July 6, for example, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that New Jersey Bell has the right to sell programming through its telephone lines. This decision has tremendous implications in terms of the possibility for telephone companies to compete with cable companies, and it opens up an entirely new distribution outlet for film and video producers.
New Jersey Bell will provide video dial-tone service, which allows for the delivery of cablelike service into homes and offices in Dover Township, N.J. Most of the programming will be provided by FutureVision, a company based in West Conshohocken, Pa. "Initially we will be rolling out cable plus and cable TV, and we will offer channel on demand in such a way that viewers can subscribe to services on a weekly or even weekend basis," explains chief technology officer and FutureVision co-founder Paul Hellhake.