First European HD DVD



Fox Pathe Europa is to launch the first high definition DVD in Europe in mid May, using Microsoft Windows Media 9. Other similar launches are planned in the coming weeks in Germany and shortly in the UK. The HD DVD for the French launch is Taxi 3, a French film, which did particularly well (for a purely French product) when it was released as a DVD, selling 1.5 million copies. The HD DVD will be pressed in 30,000 copies, targeting people with a PC running at 3 GHz or more and using Windows XP. The market will be people with home cinema systems with suitable screens (e.g. high definition plasma or projector) coupled with a suitable PC, estimated at around 100,000 in France. Stores will also use the disc for demonstration purposes. The box will sell for E19.99 containing 3 DVDs: the standard PAL version, the HD version and the bonus.The HD DVD format used provides a resolution of 1440 x 816, non-interlaced scan (i.e. 3.76 times the resolution of a standard PAL DVD) at 24 frames per second (true cinema projection speed). The DVD is copy protected: while the full file may be copied onto the PC's hard disc (e.g. for viewing on a laptop while travelling), it requires insertion of the original DVD after 24 hours for checking purposes.

Emanuel Montamot, Director of the video arm of Europa Corp Diffusion, said that a similar process could be used in the future for providing temporary licences to downloaded movies, whereby movies could be distributed via the Internet and then a rental fee paid to the rights owner. Montamot went on to explain that the Taxi 3 HD DVD is quite different from the Terminator 2 HD DVD released recently in the USA. Terminator requires a specific application (InterActual) to be installed on the PC and also an Internet connection for the verification of the playing rights. "Taxi 3 has learnt its lessons from the first trials in the USA. We have opted for a navigation that is completely standard
 without any additional components. Furthermore, the DRM is managed completely in local mode."

Montamot admitted that this product is very much a test, with the aim of providing content for people who have suitable equipment, but also to try to stimulate manufacturers to produce suitable stand-alone players.