The Next Generation

Warner Bros. is banking on HD-DVD

Last week, four major Hollywood studios, Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount and New Line, announced they would be rolling out high-def DVDs by the end of 2005. They selected the HD-DVD format, the one with less disc capacity but cheaper replication costs than its higher-capacity Blu-Ray sibling. Chris Cookson, Warner Bros.’ president, technical operations, and CTO, Warner Bros. Entertainment, discussed the studio’s decision with B&C’s Ken Kerschbaumer.

Do you think HD-DVD will win out over Blu-Ray, its competitor?

It’s just a question of time. We’ve done our analysis [of the formats], and HD-DVD meets our needs.

Will you make content available in the Blu-Ray format?

We don’t have any plans to do anything other than HD-DVD.

How easy will it be to ramp up production?

We’re going to have to set up new authoring capability because it has new interactive features and a new codec that are different from conventional DVDs. But once the authoring is done, getting it mastered and produced on plastic is pretty straightforward. It can be done with minimal conversion.

This seems like a big step forward in terms of HD traction. What’s the ripple effect for program producers?

We’ve been preparing for HD for a number of years. We have thousands of episodes of TV series that were produced over the last several years that are able to be reissued or released for television and DVD in high-def. We’ve been anticipating this for quite a while, and we look forward to the market developing.

Do you think HD-DVD will help HD-set sales?

If people get an opportunity to watch movies in HD, they’ll find it exciting. It’s just a question of prices coming down. We’re watching a lot of things in HD that look so much better than in SD.