DVD Times UK
DVD Times is present at the press conference of the European HD DVD Promotion Group, here at Hall 7.3 at the IFA Consumer Electronics Show...
DVD Times apologises for the lack of live blogging from the HD DVD event. This was due to lack of a working wireless network connection at the event.
Illustrations will be added to the article later tonight.
I arrive late, the conference hall was impossible to find, so I have to sit on the floor. Mr Fuji is discussing of Toshiba's "Digital Life innovation". A promo loop (in HD) is being projected. It features a floating ship and weird, tentacle-like creatures.15:14:
He begins talking about the wonderful fantasy world and fantastic image quality. He says it cost a lot of money to make and he went without a bonus to get it made. Ooh, he's committed!
"In the digital realm, everything's possible".
He mentions that movies like this couldn't have existed before digital technology became so prevalent.15:16:
Business talk about Toshiba's brand concept. Promises that talk of HD DVD vs BD is coming in 30-40 minutes.15:19:
A pot shot at Blu-ray. "BD is more suitable at encoding high def movies... they're offering 50gb max". He says that many BD discs are in fact 25gb and that hard drive capacity (1tb-2tb) dwarfs any optical disc anyway, so it's more suitable for recording.
He says that optical disc is very suitable for pre-recorded media or archival purposes thanks to the cheap cost of the media. He says he's sure that optical discs will continue for pre-recorded content for the next 30, 40, or even 100
Toshiba's strategy is to continue to develop new products. This is very different to many of the BD companies. Says that connectivity is a key aspect to digital innovation.15:24:
Toshiba provides many products featuring digital convergence. Come on, we want the HD DVD stuff!15:25-15:40:
Talk about Toshiba's TV business.15:35:
"PCs are becoming the next-generation nerve centres for home theatres". This is why Toshiba is pushing HD DVD in PCs so much. "HD DVD leads the PC market in next gen optical disc drives".15:37:
Almost 2 years ago, the first HD DVD PC was launched, in a high-end model. "That's going to change". From Q4 onwards, HD DVD will be a mainstream feature in Toshiba notebooks!
HD DVD already has a 70% share of the European IT market.
Starting Q4, the majority of Toshiba notebooks will be equipped with HD DVD technology. DVD is now mandatory in notebooks - now HD DVD is the next step.15:42:
HD DVD Press Conference begins.
Ken Graffeo, executive VP at Universal, and chairman of the EU HD DVD PRG, takes the stage.
He mentions an "ever growing list of worldwide supporters". Mentions "Paramount, and most recently, Dreamworks Animation".
75% of independent EU studios releasing titles on HD DVD.
Additional 90 titles promised by the end of 2007.
HD DVD is affordable. Players half the cost of BD players.
HD DVD also has a much higher attach rate: 4 discs per player, 7 times that of BD.
New slide: "Europe's HD format".15:46:
HD DVD titles mentioned. No surprises. "Many of the most popular TV series in the world - Heroes
, Battlestar Galactica
, Star Trek
the original series - exclusive to HD DVD".
He asks, what's important to studios? Standalone players, not game machines. The jury is still out on whether gamers will still buy movies in favor of games. Universal don't think so. According to GFK, for every 2 PS3s, 1 movie is sold, compared to HD DVD, where 4 movies are bought for every player.
"While HD DVD gives the same outstanding picture and sound quality as Blu-ray, we're taking the interactivity to a new level"
A video plays. It's the same one that was posted to the HD DVD web site - "Take the red pill" - only it's in 1080p. It looks fantastic projected. I want to buy a 1080p projector now.15:50.
Ken starts talking but is interrupted with applause from the video.
A new slide - what makes HD DVD the better format?" Ken talks about mandatory features and the additional features they can provide, and mentions how everyone will be able to use them. "Sadly, that's not the case with Blu-ray. Many Blu-ray owners will only get advanced features if they buy the next-generation players".15:52:
Heroes coming to the UK later this year.
"HD DVD is about so much more than HD pictures and audio. It's about immersive ... interactive experiences." Claims that studios/directors are keeping HD DVD interactive features in mind when they shoot movies.
Mentions the reduced cost of duplication - HD DVD offers a far better business case, and claims it is better for independents.
Says affordability is important. HD DVD has 70% of current standalone player sales.
Claims that price is a bigger factor than the format battle in keeping people away.VENTURA
player will be "300 euros or less". It makes HD DVD the true mass-market format. Apparently this happpened in record time. It took more than 4 years for comparable price drops to occur in Europe. HD DVD players at every price point.15:56:
Talking about Paramount and Dreamworks Animation. Chris Saito from Paramount takes the stand. He says that Paramount's decision based on 1 year's worth of evaluation, best value for consumers, best value for Paramount in terms of replication. Key catalog titles coming as well as Shrek and Transformers. He says they'll have more to announce in the near future.
Paramount and DWA will work within the HD DVD Promotion Group. "We will take things to new heights. Thank you very much".15:58:
HD DVD isn't just about movies - it's about music. Here's Wolfgang Hanebrink, CEO of EMI Music Germany
. He states that Toshiba and the HD DVD Group were reliable and suportive in helping them launch a music HD DVD.
"When we talked to an artist and said there's a chance to do a very high quality product of your concert, he was very keen from the beginning." Says that added value for both artists and consumers is very important to EMI.
The artist is Herebt Gronemeyer and his is "the first German live music HD DVD". He's a really big artist in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland: 97% of all Germans know who he is. It's being released in December, and has DTS HD 7.1 audio.
A 1080p video plays. The video quality is not the usual "live concert" quality - it's in 24p and looks a lot more like film, very, very detailed. Herbert appears on screen and talks to us. He says he's not the greatest technician, but is amazed by HD DVD.16:08:
Olivier Van Wynendaele - EU HD DVD Promotion Group. He's going to talk about standalone players.
Toshiba Europe won't be making 1080i players anymore after October: 1080p only.
HD-EP30 comes in October. 1080p/24, HDMI v1.2a output. 349-399 euro.
HD-EP35 is the high-end model, also in October. Same chassis as the EP30. But it has REGZA Link and HDMI v1.3 with Deep Color functionality, and bitstream output for HD audio formats. 449-499 euros.16:12:
Talks about firmware release schedule. 24p being added to the older models. From December, all HD players will be able to replay 50p. (This means that European-originated HD shows will not need to go through a lossy standards conversion process to be released on HD DVD).Onkyo DV-HD805
: calls it "the best of the best" which is surprising to hear from a Toshiba employee. 999 euros. Standout feature is the HQV Reon VX video processing chip.
The free movies bundle promotion is coming to Europe! 5 free movies free with each player. The titles are still being chosen - but MIGHT include Miami Vice, Batman Begins, King Kong, Chronicles of Riddick, and Troy.16:14:
Talking about software releases. "I can assure you you we will have excellent content in high quantity as well". He's going to talk about European content providers - not Hollywood movies.
Talks about replication: a lot of places in Europe can press HD DVDs. Says this competition is good for consumers, drives down the cost.25 European content providers already. By the end of the year, that number will have doubled!
New logos shown - Medusa Home Entertainment
releasing on HD DVD, as are Universal Music Group
(who I believe were BD exclusive before?)Optimum
is bringing Pan's Labyrinth
out in the UK. Other companies will release in other territories. The German version (from SENATOR) will have interactive features. Not sure why the other's don't.16:18:
Talking about France: Studio Canal
releasing new titles soon. (The BDA yesterday claimed they were exclusive - they are not). MK2
are now releasing on HD DVD, as are SND
" is coming out on HD DVD in Italy. In Italy, the 3 leading independent content providers are exclusive to HD DVD.
Poland: Some titles are already available. There are no players in Poland yet, but people are already buying them. "Thank you to our Polish friends".
Germany: one of the most important markets in Europe. Kinowelt are bringing all three "SAW" movies
to HD DVD.Universum Film
are releasing CSI
on HD DVD in Germany.Terminator 2
is being totally redone for Germany: new master, new interactive features.
ALL titles from the companies shown on the slide will have interactive features and be online enabled.
A T2 video plays. The transfer looks MUCH better than the old one and the disc is LOADED with interactive features (I'll add more detail later).
"DYNAMIC HD" Introduced as part of the video, with a snazzy logo. This is their name for the online functionality.16:28:
Dr Jordi Ribas, General Manager, HD DVD, from Microsoft in the USA, is here.16:29:
Microsoft Investment in HD DVD. "Why is MS so eager to support in HD DVD?" Mentions HDi, says that Terminator 2 is an example of it but it's just "scratching the surface".
Mentions Microsoft VC-1, and mentions how important it is: "with excellent compression like VC-1 and AVC, you can put 3-4 hours of very high definition content and tons of bonus features, and there's plenty of space left on an HD DVD disc".
Finally: Delivering HDi and HD DVD software to industry leaders in CE, IT and Content.
Why do they believe in HD DVD so much? We have to look at 3 areas:
One is VALUE. Says HD players are half the price of BD players. "Not only are they cheaper, but they're better" because they all guarantee interactivity and ethernet connectivity.
They'll be offering 5 free discs with HD DVD drive in Europe. Says the promotion in the US had "outstanding" results and caused the player to jump in sales by 7 times!
"As reality sinks in, more and more studios are coming on board".
He claims that sales of standalone players are 70/30% in Europe, in favour of HD DVD.
Compares BD-Java and HDi, mentions that BD-J is much more programming centric, whereas HDi uses web standards like XML and ECMAScript. He shows some quotes from HomeTheaterForum and other sites, from delighted users of HDi discs.16:31:
he mentions that he stepped by the BDA booth here at IFA, and picked up a brochure. "I had fun with it, it says 'we're the best, etc'". He mentions that the brochure mentioned that BD had great interactivity, but he mentions that it also had a footnote that said "Product-dependant feature". He talks about how HD DVD has Interactivity as standard in every player.
"Microsoft may not understand many things - but we understand software!" He says that people are becoming less skeptical about the value of interactivity.16:37:
things wrap up with a trailer of BOURNE ULTIMATUM
, which looks excellent. "Coming soon to HD DVD. Bourne comes home."
And that, everyone, is the end. A Q&A session was held next door, which made it difficult to record the questions and answers. Once again, I apologise for the lateness of this post (better than never, right?), and pictures will be added later.