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Blu-ray throttles up

'Angels' actioner is first for format

Sony Pictures said late Friday that it has authored and encoded the first full-length movie — “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” — in the high-def Blu-ray Disc format.

The news reps an important technological milestone that will allow hardwaremakers to begin testing their Blu-ray players for software compatibility.

It also undercuts the rhetoric used by opponents from the competing HD DVD side, some of whom have characterized Blu-ray as “vaporware” since a movie disc had never been produced.

“We are confident this achievement will help everyone understand that Blu-ray is real and poised to enter the marketplace,” said Sony Pictures Home Entertainment prexy Benjamin Feingold.

“This is an important step for our industry in order to begin mass production of high-definition movies in the Blu-ray format,” said Don Eklund, senior VP of advanced technologies.

The movie was encoded in MPEG-2 at Sony’s Digital Authoring Center in full 1920×1080 resolution.

The 25GB disc also features full-resolution graphics and animation as well as dynamic menus.

Not all of Blu-ray’s promised features are ready for testing, however.

The “Full Throttle” disc was created using HDMV, the format’s basic interactive layer, rather than the more sophisticated BD-Java system included in the Blu-ray spec.

Also, pic is encoded in the older MPEG-2 format used for standard DVDs rather than the more advanced VC-1 and MPEG-4 AVC codecs included in the spec.

(Paul Sweeting is a reporter for Daily Variety sister publication DVD Exclusive.)

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