Hollywood has decided it needs to get to grips with video disks – the major studios now accept that at least one 4.7 video compact disk format is going to emerge, and they have formed an ad hoc advisory group to encourage public and industry discussion of the technology. The group, which doesn’t even have a name yet, wants to include and involve all interested hardware and software producers, including all movie producers, in the process to make the discussion and demonstration process as broad-based as possible. It doesn’t intend to create or mandate standards, but does want to try and prevent another damaging Betamax-VHS-type collision occurring. But ideas and proposals that may be discussed will not be binding on anyone, and adherence to them will be entirely voluntary for any manufacturer, software supplier or movie producer. All parties interested are invited to deal directly with any other interested party on an individual basis. Each participant will independently evaluate differing formats, and each hardware and software manufacturer and motion picture producer will separately consider which formats it wishes to support. The advisory group is proposing a joint demonstration of the present technology by all interested manufacturers, and all interested parties will be invited to attend – get in touch with any Hollywood studio for further information. Issues the advisory group wants addressed include the amount of material that can be crammed onto one disk – the proposed Philips Electronics NV standard is inadequate because it needs two disks to store a full-length movie, but there are others in the works, including one from Nimbus Ltd here in the UK, which can store about two-and-a-quarter hours on one disk. Despite this violent compression, the group wants picture quality ideally to be superior to current high-end consumer video playback – that achieved with video cassette recorders. They also want audio compatibility with matrixed surround and other high-quality audio presentation systems, and they regard the ability to accommodate as many as three to five language tracks on one disk as important. They are interested in the thing supporting multiple aspect ratios so that the movie on the disk can be displayed on different shaped screens – presumably this would be done by recording it wide-screen and having coded information on the disk storing the scan moves needed to follow the action for playback on narrower screens. They are of course interested in copy protection and either a parental lock-out feature or multiple – explicit and nonexplicit, politically correct and politically incorrect – versions of the programming on the same disk.
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