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Tuesday, April 04, 2006
SMPTE Releases VC-1 Standard

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) has formally standardized the "VC-1" advanced compression scheme that is already being used in new digital video products.

Formal standardization was proposed by Microsoft, who contributed decoder source code and other resources towards development of the process.

Microsoft's implementation of VC-1, called WMV9 or Windows Media Video 9, has been selected for diverse applications such as MovieBeam, the Disney-backed on-demand video service; Modeo, the proposed mobile TV service that Crown Castle plans to launch later this year; and high-definition optical disk formats---both the HD DVD and Blu-ray formats have chosen VC-1 as one of three formats studios can use to deliver their movies in high definition.

Licensing fees will still be required through the SMPTE, and Microsoft will receive royalties for the use of its patents.

"Standardization of VC-1 represents over two years of work by more that 120 individuals representing over 75 media and entertainment companies," says Ingo Hfntsch, Chair of SMPTE?s Video Compression Technology Committee, which oversaw development of the VC-1 standard, ?and many companies throughout the industry have been promoting VC-1 integration for some time now.?

The VC-1 documents are SMPTE 421M-2006, "VC-1 Compressed Video Bitstream Format and Decoding Process" - the Standard itself, as well as two supporting Recommended Practices, SMPTE RP227-2006 "VC-1 Bitstream Transport Encodings" and SMPTE RP228-2006 "VC-1 Decoder and Bitstream Conformance". All three documents can be purchased on the SMPTE website at

Microsoft's competitors RealNetworks and Apple have beaten down the path of standardization as well. Apple is pushing for MPEG-4, which forms the basis of its own QuickTime format, to dominate as the next generation multimedia standard. MPEG-4 will also be a supported format on both HD DVD and Blu-ray discs.

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