Atom goes hi-def online

Program uses Windows Media to download pix in HD

Online film provider Atom Films debuted a new program at Sundance Monday night that will download three pics a week, including some in high-definition, directly to users’ computers.

New application, AtomFilms Hi-Def, is the first from a major online film provider to offer pics in high-definition format. AtomFilms is using Microsoft’s Windows Media software to code the hi-def films, which can run only on new computers with at least two megahertz of processor power.

Advertiser-supported program debuted in beta mode several weeks ago and is celebrating its launch at Sundance by offering pics from past Sundance fests, including “Girl Go Boom” and “Venus Blue” this week.

AtomFilms Hi-Def uses technology licensed from broadband software company Maven Networks to deliver three short films a week to subscribers while they’re online. Only a portion of the movies will be available in high-definition, which requires AtomFilms to reformat them, but all will be offered with a minimum of near-DVD quality and full-screen playback.

Mika Salmi, CEO of AtomFilms parent company AtomShockwave, described the hi-def offering as an “experiment,” but said he hoped the new program would soon draw at least 100,000 subscribers and attract more advertisers and filmmakers. “When you get a critical mass of people watching in such high quality, we’ll have the capability to premiere films to a captive audience and really make a splash,” he explained. “That’s the kind of thing I think advertisers will want to sponsor.”

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