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Warner Bros. Partners with HP for DVD Production

20 Apr, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Warner Bros. Studios and Hewlett-Packard (HP) have formed a partnership aimed at streamlining the creation, post-production, digital restoration and distribution processes of the studio's film and TV libraries as well as future entertainment content.

Financial terms and length of the deal were not disclosed.

Under terms of the agreement, both companies would collaborate in the development of a digital post-production studio that would, among other things, enhance fourfold the cinema resolution of a standard 35mm feature-length film.

“Warner Bros. has a bunch of old archived films that have been in the vault and gathered dust,” said HP spokesperson Michael Moeller. “They are looking to digitally restore them and how they bring them to market, whether DVD or theatrically is up to Warner Bros.”

Warner Bros.' forays into the burgeoning home video market, including the digital restoration and successful DVD releases of Singin' in the Rain, Meet Me in St. Louis and Robin Hood, underscored both the financial opportunities and laborious costs.

“Previously, Warner Bros. had used proprietary software to digitize, color correct and clean up old films,” Moeller said. “But it was a very time-consuming, labor-intensive process. They could do about one movie a year.”

The digital restoration studio would significantly increase the annual film output, according to company officials.

With the majority of the archived motion picture films shot in Technicolor, which involved physically meshing three pieces of film for different colors, the edge of the film often never aligned correctly and there was always a little bit of color bleeding.

“Over the years as the film warped, what was never to in alignment to begin with was now further out of alignment,” said a WB spokesperson. “This was really noticeable in ‘Rain.’

Clips from a digitally restored version of the 1930s film were shown last week to broad acclaim at the National Association of Broadcasters confab in Las Vegas.

“The software matches up the edges perfectly,” said the spokesperson. “You are seeing a clarity [movie goers] didn't see in 1938 or 1951.”

The partnership includes melding technologies, including HP's large capacity computers that will result in a significant increase in the number of home video titles released annually.

“They have a lot more capacity and the experience in handling the digital data,” said the WB spokesperson. “They are prefect partner because there is a tremendous amount of data involved.”

He said future WB restoration projects to DVD include Wizard of Oz and An American in Paris.

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