January 9, 2004


LAS VEGAS - Sixteen feature films are being released as high-definition movies on DVD via publishers using the HD video capabilities of Microsoft ‘s Windows Media 9 (WMV HD) Series.

The 16 titles include 10 IMAX movies from MacGillivray Freeman Films , as well as movies from Artisan Home Entertainment, National Geographic and Luc Besson . The movies will be available at retail locations in two-disc DVD sets that contain both the movie in standard definition for playback on any DVD player and a companion DVD that contains the entire feature in high definition video and 5.1-channel surround sound using WMV HD, for playback on a Windows XP-based PC. And at the CES Show in Las Vegas, a number of companies announced that they have products or services available for content owners to author, produce and/or secure additional titles using WMV HD DVD discs.

With video resolution of up to 1080p (approximately six times the resolution of today's DVD video), the WMV HD titles provide an impressive visual experience on Windows XP-based PCs. The first disc available is MacGillivray Freeman's "Coral Reef Adventure," a two-DVD set, originally created for exhibition in IMAX theaters. Gateway Inc. is offering a free copy of Coral Reef Adventure for a limited time with the purchase of a qualifying Gateway PC.

National Geographic Television & Film VP Matthew White, says WMV HD has given them the ability to provide dual formats of the same titles on one disc. "This new technology gives us an ideal showcase for our amazing array of award-winning footage, as it brings viewers closer to the underwater depths in Treasure Seekers, allows them to tag along with famed oceanographer Bob Ballard in "The Search for Kennedy's PT 109," and journey along with intrepid explorers Lewis and Clark on their 'Great Journey West.'"

To view content in WMV HD, consumers can use any Windows XP- or Windows XPMedia Center Edition-based PC with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 or better processor and a display or projector with a resolution of at least 1024x768. Support for WMV HD is available from a variety of companies in the digital distribution chain already, including Sonic Solutions (authoring) and SyncCast LLC (digital rights management). Companies such as Sample Digital, Technicolor and Mastery International Pictures can provide encoding services, and Ascent Media Group, Artisan Home Entertainment, Big Picture Digital Productions, Europa Corp. and MPO Online all offer production services.