LAS VEGAS, Jan. 7, 2004 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that 16 feature films are being released as high-definition movies on DVD discs by a variety of publishers using the high-definition video capabilities of Microsoft® Windows Media® 9 Series (WMV HD). The 16 titles include 10 IMAX movies from MacGillivray Freeman Films Inc., and movies from Artisan Home Entertainment Inc., National Geographic, Luc Besson and more. The movies will be available at retail in two-disc DVD sets that contain both the movie in standard definition for playback on any DVD player and a companion DVD disc that contains the entire feature film in high-definition video and 5.1-channel surround sound using WMV HD, for playback on a Windows®
XP-based PC. In addition, leading companies today signaled 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 a visually stunning experience on Windows XP-based PCs, including PCs powered by the new Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 operating system. The first disc available is MacGillivray Freeman’s “Coral Reef Adventure,” a two-DVD set, originally created for exhibition in IMAX theaters ( http://www.coralfilm.com/). In a new national promotion, Gateway Inc. is offering a free copy of “Coral Reef Adventure” for a limited time with the purchase of a qualifying Gateway PC.
“Twenty-five years ago, MacGillivray Freeman Films became a pioneer in producing giant-screen theater films that deliver the largest, most pristine images ever displayed,” said Bill Bennett, president of distribution at MacGillivray Freeman Films. “Consumers continue to demand premium content, and today with the WMV HD release of ‘Coral Reef Adventure,’ we are proud to be a leader in providing the ultimate high-definition surround-sound experience for home theaters.”
“WMV HD has given us the ability to provide dual formats of the same titles on one disc, so that viewers can enjoy the film in standard format on their television screens, and experience the film in high-definition quality on their PCs,” said Matthew White, vice president for National Geographic Television & Film. “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.’ We’re excited to be a part of this opportunity and to work with Microsoft to bring these technologically advanced DVDs to the customer.”
“WMV HD means you’re bringing home the best in audio and video quality, seeing movies how they were meant to be seen, whether your Windows XP-based PC is in your study or connected to a high-definition home theater in your living room,” said Dave Fester, general manager of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, movies are the most sought-after high-definition programming. Film studios can use WMV HD discs to differentiate their product in a crowded marketplace by providing consumers with not only the customary DVD video experience but also with a companion DVD disc containing the movie in high definition, providing 5.1-channel surround sound and up to 1080p video resolution. WMV HD discs are protected using Windows Media Digital Rights Management, and the content owner can choose to provide either online or “on-disc” licensing, meaning that no connection to the Internet is required to play back the content.
To enjoy content in WMV HD, consumers can use any Windows XP- or Windows XP Media Center Edition-based PC with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 or better processor and a display or projector with a resolution of at least 1024×768. Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 is a great way to experience WMV HD content, because it brings the power of the PC into the living room where high-definition displays are proliferating to create an all-in-one digital entertainment system for live and recorded television, movies, music, photos and radio — all accessible via remote control. PC original equipment manufacturers such as Gateway, Dell Inc. and HP already offer high-definition-ready plasma and LCD screens with Windows XP Media Center Edition PCs for an “instant” home-theaterlike experience.
Industry Support Available for Creating WMV HD Content
Support for WMV HD is available from a variety of companies in the digital distribution chain. Several companies are working to author, produce and/or secure the audio and video quality of WMV HD discs, including these:
Authoring Systems. Sonic Solutions
Authoring Facilities. Playground Media Group, Canned Interactive and Mastery International Pictures
Digital Rights Management. SyncCast LLC
Encoding. Sample Digital Inc., Technicolor and Mastery International Pictures
Production. Ascent Media Group, Artisan Home Entertainment, Big Picture Digital Productions Inc., Europa Corp. and MPO Online
The new WMV HD content on DVD disc, “Coral Reef Adventure” from MacGillivray Freeman Films, is available today at major retail outlets including Amazon.com, Borders, Sam Goody, Musicland and Tower Records. The following additional releases will occur in the first half of 2004:
Artisan Home Entertainment (available April 2004). “Step Into Liquid”
MacGillivray Freeman films originally created for IMAX theaters (first title available beginning in January 2004). “Coral Reef Adventure”; “Journey Into Amazing Caves”; “Dolphins”; “The Living Sea”; “Amazon”; “To the Limit”; “The Magic of Flight”; “Speed”; “Stormchasers”; “The Discoverers”
National Geographic (available May 2004). “Lewis & Clark Great Journey West”; “The Search for Kennedy’s PT 109”; “Treasure Seekers: Search for the Nile”
International releases (available spring 2004). “Taxi 3” from Europa Corp. and “Red Snow” from Stellar Megamedia in China
More information can be found at http://www.wmvhd.com/.
About Windows Media
Windows Media is the leading digital media platform, used by consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations throughout the world. The Windows Media 9 Series platform includes Windows Media Player 9 Series; Windows Media Services 9 Series, the powerful streaming server feature in Windows Server (TM) 2003 for distributing content; Windows Media Encoder 9 Series for content creation; Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series for the best-quality audio and video; Windows Media Digital Rights Management to help protect content; and the Windows Media Software Development Kit for software developers to develop digital media products and services. Windows Media Player,available in 26 languages, is now the leading media player. More information about Windows Media can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.
Microsoft, Windows Media, Windows and Windows Server are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft’s corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp .