For the first few days in July, the engineering elite held forth at the posh Fairmont hotel in San Jose to discuss IEEE 1394. Also known as FireWire (Apple Computer), or I-Link (Sony), 1394 is being hailed as a "breakthrough technology for anyone in the world who uses a PC and a Television."
July 1, 1998---"These presentations always attract more Hollywood lawyers than engineers." That's how Dick Davies of the 1394 Trade Association summed up Brendan Trawl's update on DVD Copy Protection issues at the second annual FireWire Developers' Conference last week in San Jose, CA.
If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a concert video in which the camera angle changes every three seconds, and during the charango solo we're shown a close-up of the vocalist drinking bottled water offstage. More than once I've wanted to reach through the TV and throttle the film editor. But if a recent announcement pans out, it could put camera control into the viewer's hands and bring a whole new meaning to the term "interactive television."
At the Digital Living Room conference last week in Laguna Niguel, California, Warner Bros. Online claimed that they have "blended DVD and Internet technology to simultaneously break through the online bandwidth barrier and create a completely new breed of entertainment." Not surprisingly, this DVD/web hybrid technology is called WebDVD.
Mira Sorvino, Jeremy Northam, Alexander Goodwin, Giancarlo Giannini, Charles Dutton, Josh Brolin, Alix Koromzay, F. Murray Abraham. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (letterbox). Dolby Digital 5.1. 105 minutes. 1997. Dimension Home Video 14251. Rated R. $ 29.99.
Move over, fiber optics; good-bye, T1 lines. The unexploited potential of ordinary copper telephone wires will soon be mined by a consortium of computer and communications companies. Known as the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (or HomePNA), the recently formed group intends to deliver affordable, high-speed networking over existing phone lines.
Last week, the American Film Institute (AFI) commemorated the first 100 years of American movies by officially announcing their prestigious list of the 100 greatest films of this century, as determined by a "blue-ribbon" panel of more than 1500 members of the American film community. In a nationally televised broadcast, "AFI's 100 Years . . . 100 Movies," Orson Welles' classic Citizen Kane claimed the No.1 position.
On June 17, Unity Motion announced an agreement with Turner Engineering under which Turner will supply high-definition television (HDTV) broadcast-engineering expertise to Unity Motion, which this year begins transmitting multiple channels of HDTV via satellite to subscribers in the US. In addition, Unity Motion announced that it will broadcast the first national satellite-based HDTV signal in the US on June 23-25.
In a move that reportedly caught Circuit City CEO Richard Sharp by surprise, retail chain Sears, Roebuck & Co. has decided not to carry Divx. Apparently, the format's overwhelmingly negative pre-release publicity was taken seriously by the retailer.
With enthusiastic backing from the movie industry, DVD-Video is beginning a strong climb to widespread popularity. More than 3000 titles could be available by the end of 1998, which is four times the number available in 1997, the format's first year.
Wit overcomes beauty in a recent, informal DVD survey: When asked which San Francisco-based actress or actor they'd like to have over for dinner and a DVD movie, the majority of local respondents picked Robin Williams (55%) over Sharon Stone (23%).
In its continuing crusade to standardize soundtrack-playback levels, Dolby Laboratories has introduced a new soundtrack-loudness meter, the Model 737. The device was unveiled two weeks ago at Variety's Dolby Tech Symposium at the Cannes Film Festival. According to a May 20 Dolby press release, the 737 "enables sound mixers to easily monitor the subjective loudness of trailers and other soundtracks as they are being prepared."
Video is hot and getting hotter. With HDTV looming on the horizon, no-compromise video demonstrations will be among the biggest attractions at HI-FI '98, beginning Tuesday at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel.