Iâ€™ve seen The Shawshank Redemption twice. The first time was just after it came out on DVD. Bloody good movie, I thought at the time.
The second time I watched the Shawshank Redemption was yesterday, and it was quite a different experience. I watched it on my phone. Oh yes. To be precise I was using a Nokia 6630.
The Shawshank Redemption is the first full length movie to be made available by Rok Entertainment, a company which sees a big future for itself in digital media distribution.
Rok Entertainment isnâ€™t the only fish in this sea by any means and you have lots of routes into mobile video: there are plenty of stories around about big players in the movie and entertainment business looking for ways to distribute video to mobile devices; you may have a Pocket PC or Palm and a copy of PQDVD, or a Pocket PC and Pocket DVD Wizard (I am sure there are other similar tools around) and so able to watch your own DVDs on a mobile device; you may have a Windows Media Center PC and synchronise recorded TV to a Pocket PC via Windows Media Player 10 and of course you might have a 3G handset and watch streamed or downloaded video on that.
But thereâ€™s digital video, and thereâ€™s digital video, right? And watching a 142 minute feature film on Nokia 6630 is, you might think, the absolute epitome of silliness. I have to admit I agree with you, and at this point will make a confession. I did not watch all of The Shawshank Redemption. I tried, oh how I tried, but I managed half an hour before deciding that it really wasnâ€™t working for me.
I have to say that I was sceptical before viewing began. Cramming a movie designed for a screen far taller and wider than a Routemaster onto a mobile phone seemed like a bizarre idea. Movie directors, one hopes, carefully work to a big screen format, considering what youâ€™ll see out of the corner of your eye as well as at the centre of the screen, working out how the elements of a scene fit together to create a whole. To force the results of their effort onto something as tiny as a phone screen seems an affront.
Now obviously different movies make different use of screen space depending on what they are trying to achieve, and there are some movies I wonâ€™t even watch on TV because they need the biggest screen I can get to. Ditto sound, where only the fanciest movie theatre is good enough for some experiences, while home TV is fine for others. Shawshank I recall as being visually quite strong.
After viewing I have to say I was somewhat bitten by the concept, but not by my particular experience. Rok Entertainment has a clever enough model. It distributes both content and its own player on multimedia cards or other flash memory. You shove the card in the slot, the Player appears as an application, and off you go. No problems there. The movie played at full screen, and the rocker on the Nokia 6630 provided access to volume control and forwards and backwards movement within the movie. Fine.