CES 2013: Technicolor Addresses 4K Upscaling, Color Science

There were a large number of Ultra HDTVs unveiled at CES, but HD or Blu-ray played on a 4K display “visually is not an enjoyable experience,” contends Technicolor CEO Frederic Rose. “A lot of manufacturers say ‘don’t worry, we have software that can upgrade what you are watching.’ What we see is that it doesn’t work because the chip technology that is used in the Connected TVs is actually not performing enough for what is required.” Technicolor is suggesting an alternative. Continue reading CES 2013: Technicolor Addresses 4K Upscaling, Color Science

CES 2013: Panasonic and Fox CTOs Discuss the Future of 4K

Panasonic hosted its CTO Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, Fox Filmed Entertainment CTO Hanno Basse and director, writer and actor Danny DeVito Wednesday for a panel on the intersection of technology and entertainment. The two CTOs covered the 4K push, the future of 3D and the relationship between electronic manufacturers and content providers, before making way for DeVito to discuss his view of technology in media production. Continue reading CES 2013: Panasonic and Fox CTOs Discuss the Future of 4K

CES 2013: BDA Format Task Force is Exploring 4K and 8K

The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) launched a format extension study task force in late 2012 to evaluate the potential of emerging developments including 4K, 8K, High Frame Rates (HFR) and expanded color resolution. Each technology is being evaluated to determine tech feasibility, market demand and the potential impact on the installed base of Blu-ray players. Continue reading CES 2013: BDA Format Task Force is Exploring 4K and 8K

CEA Study Indicates U.S. Adoption of 3D TV on the Rise

Approximately 21 percent of U.S. homes now have a 3D-capable television set, after 5.6 million sets were sold in 2012, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. While 3D TV sales have fallen short of industry’s hopes, video viewing in 3D is on the rise, with 42 percent of 3D-capable HDTV owners watching at least five hours per week. “Consumer interest in 3D TVs and 3D content continues to grow as ownership rates increase,” says Kevin Tillmann, a senior research analyst at CEA. Continue reading CEA Study Indicates U.S. Adoption of 3D TV on the Rise

Home Entertainment: Distribution Models Finally Working Together

In the home entertainment space, consumer spending on software rose for the first time since beginning a steady decline in 2006. The Digital Entertainment Group reports that at the end of the third quarter 2012 consumer spending on home entertainment as a whole — including disc, rental and digital distribution — was up by about 1 percent. IHS Screen Digest predicts that spending will total $18.7 billion, 5 percent higher than last year. Continue reading Home Entertainment: Distribution Models Finally Working Together

Digital Downloads: Kaleidescape Plans to Offer Time Warner Movies

  • Kaleidescape Inc. originally looked to reduce the hassle of physical DVDs and Blu-ray discs by enabling consumers to copy the movies and save them to a hard drive. After being sued by the DVD Copy Control Association, the company has since revamped its business model to keep up in the digital age of downloads.
  • “The closely held company plans to let users of its hardware buy and download digital movies, while still being able to make and store copies of DVD and Blu-ray discs they own,” the Wall Street Journal writes. “Kaleidescape is initially stocking its first online store with movies licensed under a multiyear deal with Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. movie studio.”
  • With numerous services that offer movies for rental, purchase or streaming, Kaleidescape is notably pricey.
  • “Kaleidescape’s systems, designed for people installing fancy home theaters, start at $14,490,” the article states. “But Kaleidescape hopes to build its audience among affluent customers who are willing to pay extra for the highest quality content, a sophisticated program guide and other features. Unlike most online video stores, the company says, its downloads will include all extra scenes and additional content found on DVD or Blu-ray discs.”
  • The deal with Time Warner provides the service with 3,000 feature films and more than 8,000 TV episodes, which will be priced between $6 to $20. Kaleidescape plans to enter licensing deals with other studios as well.
  • The company also supports the UltraViolet format. But downloading titles can take a while — up to five hours for a Blu-ray over a standard Internet connection.

New Acer Monitor and Projector Auto-Converts 2D to 3D on the Fly

  • Acer has introduced a home theater projector and 27-inch monitor that can show 3D content from Blu-ray players, camcorders and smartphones.
  • Both devices can also add 3D features to 2D content, according to the company.
  • “Not only can you enjoy 3D movies and other multimedia content at 1080p full HD on both devices, you can also see get your 2D content automatically enhanced with 3D effects without any additional software,” reports ZDNet.
  • The new monitor requires that users wear polarized (passive, no batteries necessary) 3D glasses, while the Acer projector requires Active Shutter 3D glasses (that require charging).
  • The 3D projector is priced at $1,999 and the monitor is available for $599. One pair of glasses is included in each purchase.

Growth Spurt: Viera Connect Market of Apps Expanding, says Panasonic

  • The ever-evolving Viera Connect IPTV system is now available on many of the company’s plasma TVs, LCD TVs and BD players. At a recent press event, the company provided details including updates to the number of available apps.
  • The Viera Connect Market of interactive apps includes 120 offerings with expectations of growing two to three times that amount by the end of next year, explained Merwan Mereby, Panasonic interactive content and services VP. According to TWICE: “The connected TV trend is on an explosive course, with estimates for worldwide connected TV shipments expected to surpass those of PCs by the end of 2013, he offered.”
  • The article cites recent additions including a Social TV app, an AccuWeather tracking app and a new 3D car racing game from GameLoft.
  • “To keep up with the challenge, Panasonic has been actively recruiting app development, and is offering a JavaScript app to help third-party developers create programs for the Viera Connect platform,” indicates the article.

Home Video: Star Wars Collection Drives Major Surge in Blu-ray Sales

  • Last month saw a surprise boom in home entertainment as Blu-ray sales surged 156 percent over the previous year during the week of September 18.
  • Sales were also up 131 percent for the week prior and 60 percent the week before that.
  • The release of high-profile titles including “X-Men: First Class,” “Thor,” and “Star Wars” made significant sales, boosting overall numbers.
  • The $140 six-movie “Star Wars” collection was the biggest seller, possibly due to retailers such as Amazon and Walmart heavily discounting the set to as low as $80.
  • “Studios are starting to bring the crown jewels out of the vault for BD release,” said IHS video analyst Jan Saxton. “That, coupled with the first releases from a very strong summer box office, has the potential to turn the movie disc market around. Weak DVD sales have continually dragged the market down in 2011.”

Miramax CEO Believes Hollywood Needs Effective Strategy for UltraViolet

  • According to Miramax CEO Mike Lang, the future of the home entertainment industry and movie production rests in cloud-based digital locker UltraViolet.
  • Warner Home Video and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment are among the studios rolling out sellthrough titles this fall, which are capable of being stored on UltraViolet and then played on various compatible devices.
  • “As an industry, we really have to believe it,” Lang said in a Q&A session at MIPCOM in Cannes. “We really don’t have choice. If the home entertainment business as we know today, in terms of the transaction business, goes away, that’s not good for anyone in this room.”
  • “Lang said failure to reinvigorate the sellthrough model could adversely affect studios’ ability to finance movies going forward,” explains The Hollywood Reporter. “Sales of DVD/Blu-ray Disc/electronic sellthrough movies have historically affected whether a title was profitable or not.”
  • Lang suggests the digital transaction model has not always been clear to consumers, especially in terms of compatibility with all the available devices and different ecosystems. He points out that Netflix has been so successful due to its ease of streaming on multiple devices such as Blu-ray players and game consoles.
  • The Miramax exec believes the studios need to partner with tech companies and retailers moving forward to develop a cohesive strategy. “I don’t know how many people use photo sharing software, but that is 90 percent cloud-based,” he said. “Ninety-five percent of the software industry in the world is now through cloud-based transactions. I’m hopeful that the movie business gets there.”

UltraViolet Announces Global Roll-Out: Studios Get Ready for the Cloud

  • UltraViolet (UV), the digital locker system that allows viewing of content across multiple devices, will roll out on October 11th in the U.S. with an expanded global rollout expected in the months to follow.
  • “All of the major studios are supporting the new cloud-based product, although Disney is not one of the more than 70 official members of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, which oversees UV,” reports Variety.
  • Warner Bros. exec Justin Herz said this week that his studio will provide half of its movie and TV catalog available on UltraViolet by the end of 2012. The first UV release, Warners’ “Horrible Bosses,” will reportedly be released Tuesday, to be followed by the availability of “Green Lantern.”
  • Fox suggested that “a significant” amount of its content would soon be UV-enabled, while Sony plans to launch with “The Smurfs” and “Friends With Benefits.”
  • “Studios that have signed up for UV hope the new technology will re-ignite the home entertainment market and boost revenues following the collapse of DVD sales and the failure of Blu-ray to generate excitement among consumers,” adds Variety. “UV-enabled discs allow buyers to watch the same content on 12 different devices with an Internet connection, including connected TVs, laptops, tablets or mobiles, once they open a streaming account.”

Dish Network Launches Blockbuster Movie Pass: Bad Timing for Netflix?

  • Dish Networks has announced its Blockbuster Movie Pass service that will offer streaming video; DVDs, Blu-ray discs and games by mail; and a satellite subscription service with on-demand movie channels.
  • Launching October 1, the service will initially be available to Dish subscribers and offered to others at a later date.
  • Movie Pass will include more than 100,000 movies and TV shows by mail, 5,000 streamed movies to TV and 10,000 to computer, and 3,000 games by mail. Users will have access to 20 premium Dish movie channels and the ability to exchange discs in-store at Blockbuster locations.
  • Current Dish Network subscribers will pay $10 per month for the service, while new Dish subscribers will have an opportunity for a free introductory year.
  • While the streaming capacity of the Blockbuster Movie Pass is not yet that of Netflix or Amazon, users will have access to movie offerings through Dish movie channels about a month earlier than other services. Also, Movie Pass touts “one company, one bill and one connection,” something that Netflix no longer has after splitting its streaming and mail-in services.

Has Amazon Become the Most Disruptive Company in Media?

  • Amazon has become “the most disruptive company in the media and technology industries,” suggests Wired.
  • Amazon’s rumored tablet has the potential to be the perfect machine to sell both digital goods delivered immediately or physical goods delivered in two days.
  • “Why not make an independent movie or television show and release it through Amazon?” asks the article. “Once the video is hosted on Amazon’s servers, it’s available for immediate digital download or streaming through Prime to desktops, tablets or set-top boxes. Both streaming and downloads promise a revenue share for content creators. Customers could buy a Blu-ray or DVD that Amazon burns and ships on demand — no storage, no overhead.”
  • While some of the content may not prove to be top quality, some of it could be the next Funny Or Die or Channel 101 while dramatically impacting distribution: “The breadth and independence of buying choices could easily differentiate Amazon from traditional studios — or even for those studios themselves, from competing services like Netflix.”
  • Amazon may also offer its forked Android-based OS as a platform to hardware partners providing a new platform with its own code, app and media stores, cloud services and revamped UI.
  • “In a year from now,” writes Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, “we could see a range of ‘Amazon tablets’ made by different hardware manufacturers.”

Rovi Provides Security and New Features for DivX Streams

  • Rovi has announced DivX Plus Streaming that allows cloud-based movie services, such as Best Buy’s CinemaNow and other sites integrated with the Rovi Entertainment Store, to stream movies securely to DivX-compatible devices.
  • New features include being able to pause on one device and seamlessly resume on another, improved video quality, and support for multiple language tracks and subtitles.
  • “Other content-protection companies, such as Google’s Widevine subsidiary, offer some similar capabilities to service providers, so Rovi is playing catch-up to a degree. And not every Hollywood studio allows its movies to be distributed in the DivX format,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Rovi executives insist, however, that they’ve leapfrogged the competition with some features, including the near-Blu-ray-quality images and the ability to support multiple alternate-language soundtracks and subtitles in the same stream.”
  • Although integration into specific products has yet to be announced, Rovi explained the technology will be available to many existing devices through a firmware update.

Hulu Takes its Show on the Global Road with Streaming Service in Japan

  • In its first international venture, Hulu is launching its subscription service in Japan where it will offer hundreds of premium feature films and thousands of TV shows for $19.19/month.
  • The service will be accessible via select connected TVs and smartphones (Engadget reports that Panasonic Blu-ray players, Sony Blu-ray players and TVs, Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles and Android tablets are relegated to the “coming soon” list.)
  • Content will be provided from CBS, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Additional local market content will be added including Japanese-produced and other Asian content.
  • Hulu is also announcing an exclusive mobile marketing partnership with NTT Docomo. Details will be forthcoming.
  • A follow-up post from GigaOM yesterday outlines the differences between Hulu’s current U.S. offerings and its plans for the Japanese market, “that could give a hint at what Hulu might look like in the future.” So is there a “no ads, higher fees and more content suppliers” future for Hulu outside of Japan? If so, watch out Netflix!