Six Questions: Technicolor CEO Fred Rose4 Jun, 2010 By: Chris Tribbey
In just the past year replicator Technicolor has become a huge force in home 3D technology and Blu-ray Disc testing. Earlier this year the company picked up replication duties for Warner Home Video, the largest home entertainment distributor in the industry. Company CEO Fred Rose took the time to chat with Home Media Magazine about these steps for the company, as well as the state of packaged media.
HM: 3D is making a huge comeback in theaters and in the home. How is Technicolor positioning itself as a leader in technology for this 3D renaissance?
Rose: Since 2005, with the release of Chicken Little in 3D, Technicolor has been the leading provider of 3D services ranging from color correction and postproduction services to digital cinema mastering and distribution. In the past year, Technicolor has continued to innovate around 3D, including production of 3D visual effects and the introduction of a high-quality/low-cost film-based 3D theatrical solution at a fraction of the digital equivalent. Additionally, Technicolor continues to lead the industry with compression and authoring services for Blu-ray 3D, having produced the first full-feature Blu-ray 3D disc (Monsters vs. Aliens). In March, we launched the first independent 3D television broadcast channel infrastructure in our London facility. Finally, Technicolor has developed 3D technologies that differentiate our set-top box offerings such as 3D subtitles and 3D program guides with the consumer in mind. We believe we have made our innovation and leadership quite felt in the area of 3D.
HM: Picking up replication for Warner Home Video earlier this year was a big coup for Technicolor. However, overall DVD releases have been steadily dropping for years now. Is DVD on its way out or does Technicolor still see a long life for the packaged-media format?
Rose: The trend we see for DVD replication demand is in line with the overall decline in DVD sales. However, winning the Warner Home Video contract gives Technicolor a significant DVD volume increase and economies of scale that further position us as the world leader in replication. We believe that despite the decline in volume, the DVD replication market will remain a large and significant market for many years to come and will continue to be a major and strategically important source of revenue for our studio customer base. We also continue to invest in building electronic distribution services and capabilities to ensure we continue to play as critical a role in the digital supply chain management as we have in the physical/packaged-media world.
HM: Blu-ray Discs are on a steady uptick. What demand is Technicolor seeing for Blu-ray?
Rose: The trend we are seeing for Blu-ray disc demand has been in line with Blu-ray releases. The continued growth of Blu-ray hardware and software sales, even through recent difficult economic conditions, clearly demonstrates widescale consumer demand and acceptance of the format. The release of the 3D specifications at the end of 2009 will also help further support the ongoing growth of the format and will, no doubt, lead to accelerating the demand for authoring and replication of Blu-ray titles over the next several years. We have managed our replication infrastructure investments carefully in line with demand from our clients and are well positioned to achieve a considerable increased market share position as volumes continue to ramp up. Additionally, we have deployed a number of innovative solutions around BD Live, thereby providing our client base with value-add services above and beyond replication and distribution. Lastly, Technicolor remains at the forefront regarding technology advancements in Blu-ray, having recently been the first replicator to offer/deploy Blu-ray 59 (BD-50/DVD-9) in support of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
HM: What services are offered by Technicolor’s Blu-ray testing with Testronic Labs?
Rose: Our advanced testing facility ensures that your Blu-ray disc will comply with BDA specifications and added compatibility adherence with existing and future Blu-ray playback devices. Teaming up with Testronic Labs has enabled Technicolor to provide the first comprehensive testing suite of services for the Blu-ray disc format. The demand for verification and compliancy is increasing as more and more players are hitting the market. We expect the demand for 3D verification will increase once additional tools for 3D authoring become available later this quarter.
Our services include:
• Verification and Certification Services — Technicolor is able to offer full analysis of Blu-ray discs for full compliancy, including the new 3D Blu-ray disc specification.
• Compatibility Testing — Using our Automated Testing System we can simultaneously test a disc on 24 players and minimize the risk of compatibility problems. We can determine whether a BD disc image is specification compliant and able to go into mass production.
• Advanced Testing — This provides thorough and customized testing of benchmarking, performance, code analysis and all linear content on the disc. Custom test plans are the most effective and efficient way of uncovering any issues. At our Blu-ray Test Center we are also able to provide certification services to the Blu-ray industry.
HM: Will the need for CDs and video games dry up in favor of complete electronic delivery, and if so, how soon?
Rose: We believe there will continue to be a demand and need for physical media beyond video-specific content in the areas of games and software. Increased deployment/use of electronic distribution will undoubtedly serve to reduce overall demand for physical media product; however, as is the case with any new technology, it will take considerable time to gain mass consumer adoption.
HM: Technicolor recently launched a new business focused on digital content delivery and device management. What services are offered and how can Technicolor’s partners take advantage of these services?
Rose: The digital content delivery services we have launched are synonymous with the services we have been supplying our client in the physical/packaged-media space. Those services include content preparation (including foreign-language versioning), digital asset management, content hosting, content distribution, DRM and device management. Our strong market presence in set-top-boxes and gateways enables us, working closely with our network service provider clients, to extend our digital content delivery services further down the value chain into the living room. … We are working on some very exciting applications we will announce and unveiling later this year.