Post Blu-ray - What's next?
Blu-ray has a couple short comings to it.
1. Inflexible frame rates
2. Max 1080p resolution based on h.264 encoding
The first is a problem when we get into newer movies like The Hobbit trilogy shot at 48fps in 3D. As well as the next two Avatar films that will supposidly be shot at 60fps in 3D. Not to mention the possiblity of films being shot at 120fps using new techniques that offer variable frame rates depending on whether or not the scene is action of drama. i.e. Douglas Trumbell's Showscan Digital method.
The second is obviously related to resolution. We have 4k and 8k resoutions on the horizon in the next ten years. We also have a new H.265 codec being developed to deal with them.
I know straight digital downloads is where a lot of people think we're headed. But increasingly smaller bandwidth caps are going to prevent this for a while. Even now you can't get blu-ray quality from a digital download. So a future physical format is almost guaranteed to be in store. But what is it and when will it appear?
Will it be a flash memory card technology or some new form of disc technology? If I had to place a bet it would be on holographic disc technology that promises upwards of several terabytes of potential storage.
Of course one bigger question looms above all else, will enough people care?
Blu-ray seems like it has only recently begun to really take off. Not because people are clamoring for it, but simiply because prices for players and discs have dropped to DVD levels and HDTV's have saturated the market.
The real revolution was VHS to DVD. Such a dramatic difference in the opertation, quality and physical size of the media compared to VHS that anyone with half brain cell could see the benefits. Blu-ray was just a evolutionary step that coincided with the adoption of flat panel HDTV's. I firmly believe that most people bought HDTV's not because they were HD, but because they were flat LCD displays that had a brighter image and took up less physical space. HD was jsut a bonus for the mass majority. Blu-ray piggybacked onto that shift in TV technology.
So what would it take for people to adopt a next generation physical format that supports variable high frame rates and higher resolutions? What else would this new format need to do to really make a splash?