Apr 24, 2006 06:30 ET
Microsoft and Universal Pictures Collaborate to Release HD DVD Titles Using VC-1 and iHD
HD DVD Titles Available Now at Major Retailers
LAS VEGAS, April 24 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Today at the National Association of Broadcasters convention, NAB2006, Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Universal Pictures announced their collaboration on the release of next-generation HD DVD discs using VC-1, the video compression standard recently approved by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) and one of the mandatory codecs in the HD DVD specification. Universal will also use iHD for the interactive features of the new titles. The launch of HD DVD players and titles last week in the U.S. represents the first broad market availability of high-definition optical media for consumers.
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As part of Universal’s initiative to provide new digital entertainment experiences for consumers using the best solutions available, the studio is using VC-1 for its initial HD DVD titles, including “Serenity,” “Doom,” “Apollo 13,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” “U-571,” “Van Helsing” and many more. Given the lower bitrate required with VC-1 to deliver pristine 1080p, high-definition movies, Universal will have room to spare within HD DVD’s 30GB capacity for interactive features and other extras. With iHD, the studio is offering interactive menus that are overlaid on top of the movie and accessible without interrupting playback. Additional features, such as user-defined bookmarks that stay with the title, picture-in-picture commentaries, and network access to download new features and HD movies trailers, all access standard HD DVD features (secondary video decoder, network access and persistent storage).
“Universal looked for the ideal format for the delivery of high-definition content and found VC-1 to offer the quality that we needed for our titles,” said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “With plans to release a wide range of HD DVD titles, Universal also needed a flexible interactive layer that can scale to accommodate new features. This is a scenario where VC-1 and iHD came out far ahead of other technologies.”
“As a technology and platform provider, Microsoft views Universal’s commitment to VC-1, iHD and HD DVD as critical to delivering a consistent consumer experience across the consumer electronics and PC ecosystem,” said Blair Westlake, corporate vice president of the Media, Content & Partner Strategy Group at Microsoft. “We share Universal’s passion to offer the highest video quality and deliver amazing extras for this new format.”
In addition to the Universal titles using VC-1, currently 100 percent of all the shipping HD-DVD titles from other studios in the U.S. are using the VC-1 codec as well.
About Universal Pictures
Universal Studios Home Entertainment is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is a part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric, with 20% owned by Vivendi Universal.
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It is no surprise they’re using VC-1 – HD-DVD’s capacity limitations mean that using VC-1 or MPEG-4 AVC is much more important than on BD. And touting using iHD is a little silly, since iHD is the *only* option on HD-DVD. You don’t see DVD releases touting the use of DVD menuing. But it is a marketing thing – I’m sure some BD releases are going to tout BD-Java, despite that being the only option there.