Paramount CTO Speaks Out On Switch to HD DVD

Posted Wed Aug 22, 2007 at 10:15 AM PDT by
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In a new interview, Paramount's chief technology officer offers up the most detailed explanation yet of the studio's technical rationale for switching to HD DVD.

With reports swirling that Paramount and sister studio DreamWorks received up to $150 million dollars in incentives to drop Blu-ray, Alan Bell, executive vice president and CTO for Paramount Pictures says there's more to his company's decision to dump Blu-ray than simply business dealings.

In an interview in PC World Magazine, Bell said that after publishing titles on both formats, Paramount had found HD DVD to have more stable tech specs and leaner programming code than its high-def rival, advantages that the executive attributes directly to the format's outgrowth out of the DVD Forum.

"[HD DVD] was launched in a very stable way, with stable specifications, and they had specified a reference player model, so all players had to be compatible with the HDi interactivity layer, and all players had to be capable of the interactivity," explained Bell. "That speaks to the DVD Forum, that it published specs that were complete and market-ready, and that it didn't need to publish up [and change the specs], as Blu-ray has. To some degree, [such changes are] going to create some legacy issues."

Of Blu-ray's greater storage capacity than HD DVD, the executive called it "a little bit overrated," saying that most titles don't require a capcity more than 30GB, and in cases where they do, Paramount would issue a second disc for bonus features.

"Making a choice like the one Paramount has made is a multifaceted choice," said Bell. "It depends upon manufacturability, the reliability of players, the cost, the infrastructure that's developed to support our creation of titles. Many different factors came into play--including capacity. When Paramount made this decision, we considered the broad spectrum."

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