Hey You, Get Onto My Cloud: More Nails in the Coffin of Physical Media For Video?

In a previous post, I was commenting on the enthusiasts who continue to embrace physical media.

So, it spurred me to write when the man I bought my blu-ray drives from sent an email that he is shuttering his business selling Libredrive enabled hardware. Libredrive is a mode of operation that allows accessing the data on the disk directly, as opposed to the more ‘modern’ method of the firmware on the device restricting access. The drives I bought from him are being discontinued. There are other sellers, but it is proof that it is getting harder for those who want to own their own media and keep digital copies of their media to do so. The life expectancy of a DVD is anywhere from 30 to 100 years, estimated, assuming it was stored in a cool dry place, out of direct sunlight. Also, sleeves as opposed to cases can scratch them. Failures of well maintained discs in less time is rare.

When I shared this thought with someone, they commented it was because physical media is dead. But there will always be a market for dedicated hobbyists and enthusiasts. The Verge reported that for the second year in a row, vinyl outsold CDs, $1.4 billion versus $537 million. Physical media is still 11% of sales. But, while CDs and Vinyl are still 11% of the audio market, on the video side, in 2023, in the US, 86.3% of video watching was subscription streaming, 6% digital ‘sales’, 3.9% digital rentals, and 3.6% digital sales. Eventually, physical video media will likely see a resurgence…resurgence likely being where vinyl and CDs are today. A dedicated hobbyist market.

When the subscription services started, they started putting out classic as well as harder to find shows. But now, they are pulling things, not just older content, but new exclusive content they created for those platforms. Ad supported tiers are rising up, as are the monthly rates. They are cracking down on how many people can use the service. Why? Because these services are not making money. Netflix still is, Warner Discovery just started, but the rest are still in the red. But all of the services are cutting new production budgets and beloved shows to keep up. There may be a point in the future where your favorite classics aren’t available anymore on any subscription service.

Time to go raid the Walmart DVD bin before that’s gone too.

Blu-Ray on Linux – Part 2

Blu-Ray Disc logo
Image via Wikipedia

After a lot of consideration between a dedicated hardware blu-ray player and a blu-ray drive, we prepared to take advantage of Newegg’s $49.99 Blu-Ray drive.

At the last minute, we changed to a $129.99 Blu-Ray burner, so we can experiment with blu-ray burning as well as play-back under Linux.

We installed it in a secondary computer, as opposed to our production system, and installed the MakeMKV beta for Linux. It compiled without incident, and was able to rip our test Blu-Ray video to a test drive.

Now, we want to emphasize this very clearly. WE HAVE NO INTENTION OF DISTRIBUTING ANY ILLEGAL VIDEO. Our intention is to be able to exercise our fair use and playback our legally purchased or legally rented videos.

It is a pain in the butt to have to spend this time ripping the Blu-Ray before we can play it. But that is the price we pay for our open-source lifestyle choice.

We figure, for our legally owned(not rented) Blu-Rays, we have two options.

  1. Rip the Blu-Ray, watch it, then delete the working files. This seems to make sense, as a single movie rip is taking up 30GB on a drive. How many of those is it worth storing.
  2. Do above, but create a lower-quality archival copy that can fit on a single DVD. Our first blu-ray came with a digital copy on a separate DVD that can only be played under Windows, so we might as well discard that disc and replace it with our on archival DVD.

Either of these, again, involve a fair amount of preprocessing and working space, however. In the meantime, however, we have a new movie to watch.

Blu-Ray and Linux – Or Why We Don’t Have Blu-Ray Yet

Blu-ray Disc
Image via Wikipedia

Many years ago, we owned a hardware DVD player. Then, over time, we dropped the extra device in favor of playing movies back through our Home Theater PC.

But Blu-Ray is a bit more complicated. We use Linux, and a group of intrepid individuals reverse-engineered the DVD standard, as no one would offer a licensed copy. At least until this past July, when Fluendo released a licensed DVD player for Linux. They have not yet released a Blu-Ray player.

Which leaves the reverse-engineering road. The latest versions of mplayer now support most of the Blu-Ray codecs. But that isn’t playback of the disc. That means you still need to rip and encode the disc for it to work. Which is where the problem comes in. There is a limited guide available for Ubuntu that offers some updates on what you might do.

MakeMKV has a Linux version, which apparently works for ripping Blu-Ray discs, even many BD+ encrypted titles. It will take them directly to the Matroska(MKV) container format.

A Blu-Ray rip will take at least 50GB, before post-processing down to a smaller format, which is a lot of hard drive space. Especially if your goal is to merely watch the disc.

Am looking forward to testing all of these methods someday, but will need a Blu-Ray drive and a sample Blu-Ray disc. Will likely choose to wait. Although we may choose to try a hardware Blu-Ray player to dip our feet into the world of Blu-Rays. We don’t really need to watch HD movies, as much as it would enhance our experience, but we want to slowly phase out purchasing DVDs in favor of Blu-Ray for new releases. Not that we buy any movies regularly. We save purchases for special titles.

We’d like to hear what other people think on the subject.