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Most major studios back off ICT downscaling on next gen DVDs

Posted at 30 March 2006 01:06 CET by Seán Byrne
Just over a week of Sony making the announcement that they will not use the Image Constraint Token (ICT) flag in their Blu-ray movies, Universal, Paramount, Disney and Twentieth Century Fox have all decided to opt against the flag also, at least until further notice.  This flag is part of the AACS functionality, which forces the picture to downscale to a maximum of 1/4 Full HD (960 x 540).  While this resolution is more than that of entry level Plasma TVs (usually a native res. of 848 x 480), this is much less than that of even native 720p displays which have a native resolution of at least 1280 x 720. While this ICT flag is aimed at forcing the use of HDCP enabled connections to prevent piracy, unfortunately it affects honest paying customers who bought a HDTV sets lacking a HDMI or HDCP compliant interface, especially the early buyers.  As a result, while this flag may be designed to fight piracy, it effectively punishes those who bought a non compliant HD display or one before HDCP support started becoming standard on most high definition displays. So far, Warner Brothers is the only major studio that plan on using the flag, at least on some of their first titles.  With so many studios backing off from ICT, this could mean one of two things:  Either the ICT flag is dead on arrival or they are backing away from it as a temporary measure to give the next generation of DVD players a boost before they start putting the ICT flag into their releases.  Thanks to  hazel_wu for letting us know about this news: Following on the heels of Sony, Universal has confirmed that they will not be using such capabilities to downgrade video on their offerings, at least for now. This marks what looks to be a major studio to turn away from the so-called image constraint token'”the name given to the AACS software functionality that allows for downsampling video to 960x540 (approximately NTSC). Paramount, Disney and Twentieth Century Fox have all backed off of using the ICT, leaving Warner Brothers as the only major studio saying that they will use the it. According to BusinessWeek, sources say that Warner will use the ICT on "at least some" of their initial titles. In my opinion, dropping ICT is mainly just a way of encouraging consumers to take on the players.  There is a very good chance that several years later when the majority of consumers have got hooked on HD movies (assuming this happens), they will start putting the ICT into new releases to get those with incompliant TVs to think of buying a new set if they want to get their full picture quality back.  hazel_wu added:  Finally some good news about HD and AACS... at least for a while. Source: ars technica

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There are 5 comments

CD Freaks Member
Posted on: 30 Mar 06 09:13
    Is just another way to make customers spend much more $$$ buying twice the same thins. As will be with a lot of HD movies that will not benefit much from the HD upsampling because they where not made with in HD from the beginning. Nothing new here...
    MyCE Resident
    Posted on: 30 Mar 06 10:05
      another attempt to kill dvd; don't be fooled as they can always put the restriction flag anytime. for the initial batches of movies, not many would not understand what they need to get the hd-picture when consumer finds that hd-dvd/bd movies are only as good as dvd, they would not buy hd dvd/bd which would cause them to stick with dvd that they don't want but have to use, unfortunately for them long live dvd
      Dick Rivett
      New on Forum
      Posted on: 30 Mar 06 17:31
        Remove the provision for the flag from the AACS spec and maybe we'll consider it. Until then, eat me.
        CDFreaks Resident
        Posted on: 30 Mar 06 17:40
          Sounds like cunning but wise step from the industry. I mean the bestbuy reps wont have to learn to read manuals and whatever A/V connectors they mix up this time around, itll still get em something positive on the screen. Of cource, theyll be showing "the meltdown" for the most part, but that is another HD topic.
          New on Forum
          Posted on: 31 Mar 06 01:20
            I agree with Dick Rivett. The ICT flag needs to be removed from the ASCC software specifications. Otherwise this is just a bait and switch gimmick. They are finally realizing that if the early adopters do not buy their CRAP format both Blu-ray and HD-DVD will be dead on arrival. So they are dangling this carrot out in front of the early adopters to get them to purchase their expensive 1st generation players. Once one of the two formats becomes the new standard the movie studios will quietly start using the ICT Flag and leave the early adopters high and dry. :X

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