HP firming up D’Works alliance

Co. hopes to develop, sell new technology to entertainment biz

Hewlett Packard is expanding its partnership with DreamWorks and forging a technology alliance with Warner Bros. as it makes a major push into the digital post-production sector.

News will be announced today at the opening ceremony of the National Assn. of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas, where HP chief exec Carly Fiorina is giving the keynote.

HP is working with Warners and DreamWorks to develop technology it hopes to then sell to the rest of the entertainment industry as the post-production world continues to go digital. IT company is packaging all of its offerings into a Digital Media Platform, the consumer end of the platform it debuted at the CES show in January.

“Hollywood has been getting into digital production for a while, but it’s still just on the cusp of embracing the capabilities of digital technology in a big way,” said HP veep of global alliances Vikkee Pachera. “We feel the industry is ripe to take advantage of an IT-like mindset for all of its valuable assets.”

Rendering ‘Shrek’

DreamWorks partnership is an expansion of an existing deal the companies have had in place since 2001. HP has been working with the studio on “Shrek 2” by providing outsourced computational power through its new Utility Rendering Service. Offering allows studios to essentially rent off-site computing power from HP for intense projects like rendering on the CGI-animated “Shrek 2” and “Shark Tales” that would otherwise require the studio to build its own IT infrastructure to peak capacity, even though it would rarely use that much.

Companies have also been developing a Virtual Studio Collaboration Tool, an enhanced video conferencing application allowing for virtual collaboration on artwork and other projects from remote locations.

“We think we can be something of an incubation center to help HP apply some of its invention to have broader appeal to the entertainment market,” said DreamWorks chief technical officer Ed Leonard.

Updating classics

Deal with Warner Bros. has the two companies working together on digital restoration projects to improve the image quality of classic movies from its vault originally created in Technicolor. Studio has already used the process on new versions of “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and is working on “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With the Wind.”

“That kind of restoration is very computationally intensive,” said prexy of WB technical operations Chris Cookson. “We want to help pioneer these tools so they’re available sooner than later. And we’re trying to find the right balance in terms of how much of this we can manage directly and how much should be outsourced.”

Fiorina’s place as the keynote at the opening ceremony of the National Assn. of Broadcasters confab reflects the conference’s mixed role in addressing behind-the-scenes tech developments for the entertainment world as well as regulatory and business issues facing the broadcasting industry.

Several tech companies debuted their newest wares Sunday before the show opened. Apple revealed a major push into post-production, including a version of its Final Cut digital editing software tailored for high-definition video. Company also announced a motion graphics program called Motion that it hopes will make graphics production as accessible to the indie world as Final Cut has made editing. Motion is priced at $299 while the Final Cut upgrade is free for users of the most recent edition, indicating that Apple is looking to expand the market and make its money in the long run on high volume sales.

“We think this market is a small fraction of what it will be in five years,” Apple VP of applications marketing Rob Schoeben told Daily Variety.

Apple is also hoping to make greater inroads with Hollywood productions by partnering with companies like Panasonic, Thomson and the BBC on its new products.

In addition, BMG is set to announce a deal today with interactive media company YES that would allow users to access information on any song they hear on the radio using mobile phones.

Talking indecency

On the regulatory front, indecency legislation and media consolidation should be high on the list of attendees’ concerns, with several of the most active congressmen set to discuss them at a Congressional Breakfast today, while FCC chair Michael Powell will sit down for a one-on-one interview Tuesday with Sam Donaldson, followed later in the day by a panel with the other four FCC commissioners.

Also at the NAB confab, Oprah Winfrey will receive the org’s distinguished service award.

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