Despite all the conjecture and whatnot, sometimes it's good to just get the story from the horses mouth.

In an interview in PC World, Paramount executive Alan Bell recently spoke at length about his studio's reasoning for Paramount and DreamWorks Animation surprisingly siding with the HD-DVD camp against Blu-ray in the format war.

As for why Paramount ultimately decided to go with HD-DVD?

"Paramount has been getting experience with publishing titles in both formats for the last year." Bell states. "We've had a hands-on ability to see how these formats work in practice. And after some hands-on analysis, we decided that HD DVD was the format we wanted to support."

"For one thing, the lower prices of the players: It's good for consumers, it's good for our customer base."

"For another thing, HD-DVD came out of the DVD Forum. The DVD Forum is very experienced at developing and managing specs. [HD-DVD] was launched in a very stable way, with stable specifications, and they had specified a reference player model, so all players had to be compatible with the HDi interactivity layer, and all players had to be capable of the interactivity. So when we publish titles in the future that have interactivity, we can be assured that every HD-DVD player will be able to handle this content."

Bell was also asked about the apparent benefits of "Blu-ray, which has 50GB dual-layer discs, as opposed to HD DVD's 30GB dual-layer discs."

"This is a little bit overrated." Bell offers. "Making a choice like the one Paramount has made is a multifaceted choice: It depends upon manufacturability, the reliability of players, the cost, the infrastructure that's developed to support our creation of titles. Many different factors came into play--including capacity. When Paramount made this decision, we considered the broad spectrum. If everything else were equal, more capacity would be better. Why not? But if you convert the playing time, a 30GB disc gives you somewhere between 3 and 4 hours of capacity. It depends upon the nature of the movie and how you compress it. There's no compromise on the quality. We've found that 95 percent of movies are less than 2.25 hours long. With a disc whose capacity is 3 or 4 hours, you can put a fair amount of bonus material on that disc as well. So 30GB with the option to add another disc is fine, from our point of view."

Bell then touched on whether or not this decision to exclusively support HD-DVD would hold up in the face of the format war with Blu-ray disc.

"At this moment in time, it's an indefinite commitment." He offered. "The core of this announcement comes from our experience, and what our consumers are looking for. We hope this will influence consumers' choices."

Finally, what about the money Paramount and DreamWorks animation supposedly got to make this decision?

All Bell would say was, " ... whenever we conduct co-marketing, production deals, or other agreements, we never discuss business terms."

Cinemark Movie Club
Evan Jacobs