As Hollywood readies its new and controversial high-definition DVDs, at least one major studio is leaving some of the most advanced parts of the new disc formats on the table in favor of technology that’s more than a decade old.
Last week, studio giant Sony Pictures quietly voted for “none of the above,” and took a swipe at the new codec formats. The new advanced codecs aren’t immediately necessary for discs released in Sony’s high-capacity Blu-ray format, Sony Pictures executives said in an interview with CNET News.com, and the studio would instead use the 11-year-old MPEG-2 video codec used on today’s DVDs.
“Advanced (formats) don’t necessarily improve picture quality,” said Don Eklund, Sony Pictures’ senior vice president of advanced technology. “Our goal is to present the best picture quality for Blu-ray. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, that’s with MPEG-2.”
The studio’s decision represents a setback for the advanced codecs and their backers–an even greater one if other studios such as Disney, Paramount or Universal Pictures decide to follow Sony’s lead, as some industry insiders predict. And that could happen, particularly in the early days of the new DVDs, when the new codecs are unfamiliar to producers and engineers who have to create the DVD files, some analysts say. Hollywood production staff know how to make a clean DVD picture using the old technology, while the newer formats remain relatively unexplored territory.
But so far, studios remain split.
Representatives for Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox said they were planning to use the new formats. Warner is leaning toward Microsoft’s VC-1 format, while Fox is leaning towards the AVC format, the studios said.