Paramount's CTO justifies dumping Blu-ray

Paramount Pictures' Alan Bell talks about why it sided with HD DVD

In a surprise move, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation announced this week that they would align themselves exclusively with the HD DVD high-definition format. The controversial decision has attracted a lot of attention, and not just because it comes at a time when market indicators have been pointing to competitor Blu-ray Disc as having the lead (disc sales have been running 2-1 in Blu-ray's favour).

Rumours have swirled since the news broke, suggesting that Paramount and DreamWorks are being heavily compensated for their exclusivity pact--to the tune of US$50 million and US$100 million, respectively. A Paramount spokesperson says only: " ... whenever we conduct co-marketing, production deals, or other agreements, we never discuss business terms."

I don't doubt that some level of financial incentive made this a good business decision for the two studios. But according to Alan Bell, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Paramount Pictures, there's more to the change in allegiance than either a mere abandonment of Blu-ray's higher-capacity advantage or pure business dealings.

Here's some background from Bell about the recent news.

Presumably, making this move wasn't something you did lightly. What led up to the decision to shift your production exclusively to HD DVD?

Paramount has been getting experience with publishing titles in both formats for the last year. We've had a hands-on ability to see how these formats work in practice. And after some hands-on analysis, we decided that HD DVD was the format we wanted to support.

Why was that?

For one thing, the lower prices of the players: It's good for consumers, it's good for our customer base.

For another thing, HD DVD came out of the DVD Forum. The DVD Forum is very experienced at developing and managing specs. [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. So when we publish titles in the future that have interactivity, we can be assured that every HD DVD player will be able to handle this content.

So, as a studio, you believe that the underlying stability of HD DVD's specs is a benefit?

When you look at what the DVD Forum has specified as required, it's a good set of advanced technologies. You can be assured that that benefit will be available to all consumers, no matter what [player] model they purchased. 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.

For example, HD DVD players have [ethernet] connectivity built-in. If the player doesn't have that, or it's optional, you can't rely on that [as a feature].

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Cate Bacon

Aruba Instant On AP11D

The strength of the Aruba Instant On AP11D is that the design and feature set support the modern, flexible, and mobile way of working.

Dr Prabigya Shiwakoti

Aruba Instant On AP11D

Aruba backs the AP11D up with a two-year warranty and 24/7 phone support.

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?