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Thursday, October 05, 2006
THX Best Practices Lab Holds Training Session for Facilities to Meet Increasing Demand for HD DVD

Special session teaches authoring and post-production professionals how to use Microsoft?s latest tools including VC-1 encoding and HDi interactivity tools

Last week the THX Best Practices Laboratory for Windows Media hosted a special HD DVD authoring session at its Raleigh Studios facility in Hollywood. The Best Practices Lab (BPL) offers the Hollywood community an environment in which to objectively evaluate new technologies for professional post-production and consumer applications.

The HD DVD training, designed to get authors and compressionists up and running on the production of HD DVD titles, provided instruction to 93 people from 51 companies on the end-to-end HD DVD workflow and the latest technologies from Microsoft and industry partners. This overall workflow included encoding video in VC-1, adding advanced interactivity based on Microsoft?s HDi and formatting HD DVD discs for replication. Specifically, the encoding session taught content authors how to properly encode with VC-1 using the latest parallel encoding tool (PEP) from Microsoft. This breakthrough tool, currently being used to author HD DVD titles by some Hollywood studios, is designed to drastically reduce encoding time and significantly reduce bitrates while still providing extraordinary high-definition video quality.

Attendees also received training on Microsoft?s HDi authoring. This training educated content authors on how to add unique advanced interactive menus and scenarios such as those advertised recently in ?The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift? where street racing can be tracked using an on-screen real-time Global Positioning System (GPS) display. The in-movie experience uses picture-in-picture to show viewers how the movie was filmed ? all without interrupting the movie.

Supporters of the training session included HP, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD), Sonic Solutions and InterVideo Ulead. HP provided world-class hardware for the PEP VC-1 encoding sessions, while InterVideo Ulead and Sonic provided overviews of their HD DVD authoring solutions. Specifically, Sonic Solutions demonstrated HD DVD title preparation with the latest version of its widely-acclaimed Scenarist HD DVD Edition authoring system, the Hollywood-standard HD DVD authoring solution. The new version has significant new features and capabilities, further enabling major motion picture studios and professional authoring facilities to efficiently encode, author, proof and release commercial titles that feature high-definition video and rich interactivity. Sonic released the new version of Scenarist HD DVD Edition this week. Also of note, InterVideo Ulead will be releasing the DVD MovieFactory Studio Pro Edition in the fourth quarter of 2006.

?The HD DVD training session at the THX Best Practices Laboratory provided filmmaking professionals with the tools to deliver the absolute best-quality HD DVD experience to consumers,? said Amir Majidimehr, corporate vice president of the Consumer Media Technology Group at Microsoft. ?With participation from key industry partners, and using cutting-edge technology like VC-1 and HDi, we?re showing how easy it is to master the HD DVD authoring and production process.?

?With tools such as VC-1 PEP, we are able to encode discs at a dramatically lower bitrate than MPEG-2 while providing the highest-quality high-definition picture to consumers,? said Jinha Kim, director of R&D, Digital Compression at Global Digital Media Xchange (GDMX).

?Advancements like these allow studios to deliver the quality we want and still leave plenty of room for bonus features on a high-definition disc.?

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