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Monday, June 11, 2007
Panasonic Expands Hollywood Bluray Disc Facility

Panasonic's Hollywood Laboratory (PHL) is expanding its California-based research and development facility and its staff to grow with the Blu-ray Disc format.

Residing near NBC Universal, PHL is expected to beef up its staff by over 50% between now and the end of year.

To date, PHL has authored and developed about 12 titles featuring BD-Java, the Blu-Ray's interactive technology, for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Fox's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Buena Vista's first two Pirates of the Caribbean films all representing some of BD's most progressive efforts are among Panasonic's credits.

The lab is now asking studios and filmmakers for help infusing titles with picture-in-picture and Web-enabled BD Live features. "We are opening our doors to directors, producers, the big household names, through our relations with the studios?they want to learn about Blu-ray," said Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, VP of corporate development and general manager, Blu-ray Group for Panasonic R&D Company of America.

Picture-in-picture, where a separate video stream plays on top of the running feature film, will debut on a BD title this year, says Tsuyuzaki. This coincides with the BD Group?s Oct. 31 deadline mandating that all new hardware models launching after this date must handle picture-in-picture playback.

PHL also is testing a BD Live prototype title, which will likely street by early 2008.

In addition to BD Java and BD Live, PHL also has been involved in research and development of the format?s advanced codec MPEG 4 (also known as AVC) and copy-protection technologies AACS and BD+.

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