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News in Brief

ELEPHANT Dream, Europe's first commercially-available HD DVD title was produced using Sonic's Scenarist advanced interactive authoring and CineVision high-definition encoding solutions. Developed by authoring studio Imagion AG of Trierweiler, Germany, the title is built around the computer-animated 3D short Elephants Dream, which was created by an international creative team led by Ton Roosendaal, chairman of Blender Foundation. Special features on the title include on-the-fly menus and scene selection, picture-in-picture, and an interactive side-by-side comparison of HD and SD video quality.

XIRIS Automation Inc., a leading provider of inspection systems (Ident Code Verification, Print Check, Disc Orientation and Graphics Verification) for the optical media industry has announced that and ACTiM, an agent for optical disc equipment, will represent and distribute Xiris products in Italy. ACTiM sells machines for production, printing, packaging and QC of optical discs, as well as spare parts, wear parts and consumables. It is also active in sourcing, storing and distributing fine chemicals, intermediates and process aids for several other industrial applications.

SOME are claiming that the format war is over and that HD DVD is the winner by virtue of the fact that the first porn film to be releasesd in a next-generation format has gone for HD DVD. Over in Japan GLAY'z, known for its "Brand-new-century-visual-super-exprotion-entertainment," just released the world's first adult film on HD-DVD entitled Slave Room. The movie includes both an HD DVD and standard DVD version. It retails for about $52.

THE internet has been buzzing with speculation that to compete with Sony's Blu-ray, Microsoft will eventually roll out HD DVD games. Not so according to Microsoft. Microsoft's John Porcaro: "I'm seeing lots of speculation about our upcoming HD DVD Player, and whether we have plans to publish HD DVD games. The answer is no. Since announcing the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player accessory at E3 2006, we've been clear that it is designed exclusively for playing HD DVD movies. It will not play games on HD DVD." Porcaro explains that the company cannot see an advantage to switch from current DVD to HD DVD. Cost go up and load times increase. Seems like Microsoft is betting on games and not formats.

JAPANESE users of Blu-ray DVD players will be able to view US films because there will be a single region code, reports. The discs and the players, said the wire, will use a single Japanese-US region code. The reason given is that Hollywood now releases its putative blockbusters simultaneously worldwide.

A LAWSUIT by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (Panasonic) against Taiwan's CMC Magnetics Corp. covers three patents related to recordable DVD technology, according to the court complaint. Panasonic filed the lawsuit against CMC last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California but details or a copy of the complaint were not immediately available. The three patents named in the complaint are: U.S. patent 4,847,132, which covers a protective layer for a reversible data storage disc; patent 5,790,487, which relates to optical data recording media; and patent RE 37,185, which covers an optical recording head for use in an optical disc data storage system. Panasonic asserts that CMC and two U.S. affiliates, Hotan and KHypermedia, infringed on all three patents. The company is asking the court for damages relating to the infringement and an injunction against further infringement

MITSUBISHI Chemical Media Ltd. announced that the first 8cm DVD+R DL for video cameras will be available in the end of August. The new 8cm DVD+R DL discs are currently supported by the HDR-UX1 video camera by Sony. The media offer a capacity of 2.6GB, meaning that it can hold up to 55 minutes (SP mode) of video. In addition, the dics come with a white printable surface compatible with inkjet printers. Although the company did not disclose pricing details, the media package (3 discs) is expected to cost approximately 3000 Yen ($26, £14) in Japan.

VERBATIM said it will start selling a dual layer mini DVD-R dick at the end of the month which will hold 2.66GB of data on a single side. The introduction will coincide with the introduction of the Canon DC22 Mini DVD-R DL compatible camcorder. The discs, said Verbatim, double the capacity of current mini DVD-R disks. The discs will come in three packs at an estimated price of $25, and will become available internationally over time.

DESPITE the US retail chain Target pulling UMD movies for the PSP market from its shelves, Sony says that it is still committed to the format for movie distribution. Sony Computer Entertainment America says that it has been gathering consumer data on PSP users, and has been presenting the information to the Hollywood studios to help them understand the profile and needs of the market.

HDTV manufacturers who have been unsuccessful selling sets in Europe despite high-definition telecasts of such major sports events as the World Cup are now hoping that movies will boost sales. The online edition of Business Week noted today (Tuesday) that only about 800,000 households in Europe receive HD programming and only about 2 million homes own HD-ready sets (compared with 19 million in the U.S. and 11 million in Japan). Japanese manufacturers of HD DVD and Blu-ray players plan to ship product to retailers in October, and Hans Kleis, CEO of Sharp Electronics Europe, told the magazine, "I expect the big boom [in HDTV] in Europe will be at Christmas."

ACCORDING to the China Video Industry Association (CVIA), in 2005, China manufactured 82 million televisions and 140 million DVD or VCD players. Sales of plasma and LCD TVs are forecast to grow 105 percent this year to $5.5 billion, and are estimated to reach $10.5 billion in 2008, according to research firm IDC. The CVIA has agreed to promote and support the use of High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) by the consumer electronics industry.

OPTODISC Technology and Prodisc Technology, both second-tier producers of optical discs in Taiwan, are facing financial pressures and are eagerly competing for orders of 8x DVD+R/-R discs by lowering OEM quotations from $0.15 to $0.12 per disc, according to industry sources. Other second-tier and small makers of 8x DVD+R/-R discs may be hit by the cut in prices, the sources pointed out. However, CMC Magnetics and Ritek, the top two makers of optical discs in Taiwan, indicated that their production capacities have been booked up and that they will not reduce OEM prices. A large portion of DVD+R/-R discs produced by the two companies is for 16x speed, with present OEM prices ranging between $0.18 and $0.22 a disc.