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Sonic hedges bets to hog DVD production

29 March 2007

Sonic Solutions is to unveil a major upgrade to its Scenarist platform at NAB which the firm claims overcomes the problem of having to manually encode the same content for both Blu-ray and HD DVD releases, writes Adrian Pennington.

According to Julian Day, managing director of DGP, a leading DVD authoring house and Scenarist beta test site, the current time-consuming, dual-authoring process dramatically increases the cost of HD DVD production.

“There is some consumer confusion over the competing formats but HD discs have yet to take-off because the cost of production is too high,” said Day. “We need to make the cost of HD DVD production cheaper without dropping our trousers in the process. Independent content owners in particular want HD discs but want them at existing prices.”

Andy Evans, who runs DVD house The Pavement, concurred. “Even if the kit works it is way too expensive for what we can charge back. People don’t want to pay any more for an HD DVD in a market that has already bottomed out.”

EDGe (Extended Develop Group), is a new application to be announced at NAB which permits one encode for the dual formats. It uses Sonic’s CineVision encoder to encode once then allows authorers to apply video, audio and graphical assets to either of the two formats.

“It’s a huge step forward and effectively halves the time,” claimed Rolf Hartley senior vice president and general manager of Sonic’s professional products group. “Previously graphic artists had to pass the project to a dedicated programmer to handwrite code.”

The firm says its new Publisher tool launched in January, which offers pre-defined navigation templates and structures, slashes standard DVD production times from 16 hours to just 22 minutes.

“It automates the authoring workflow, allowing multiple titles with different content to be generated from a single DVD project with virtually no additional authoring,” said Hartley. “It also allows less skilled people to go in and apply graphics or QC a project freeing up a facility’s key staff to concentrate on high definition authoring.”

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