An interesting snippet emerged while I was having lunch with Masayuki Kozuka, who heads up R&D for Panasonic’s Media and Content Alliance office. He confided that PHL (aka Panasonic Hollywood Laboratories), the power house behind the development of the Blu-ray 3D specification was currently working on an optimized version of the MPEG4 AVC High Profile codec specifically for SD card.
“We are tuning AVC High Profile for use on SD cards,” he told me. “The idea is to deliver the best possible picture quality on SD card.” His inference was that films could be released in a memory card format as well as BD and DVD. “It’s a bit like Digital Copy,” he added. “Of course we prefer to promote the Blu-ray format, but we think its important to keep compatibility across media. So we are talking to studios at the moment. They are interested…”
Coincidentally, this comes a few weeks after Japanese solid state specialist Hagiwara released the Michael Jackson documentary This is It on a 2GB USB flash memory and a 1GB micro SD card, for the Japanese market only. The former was called a PC Edition, and was encoded in WMV at 720×406 resolution. The SD card Mobile Edition is intended for use in mobile phones.
Films have turned up on various solid state drives over the past few years, usually as part of a promotion, but there’s been no coherent attempt to distribute movies in a high-quality video format on memory cards by the Hollywood studios. Could that be about to change? It would be a curious development given the push toward streaming, but there is certainly no shortage of display devices that an SD movie card could be plugged into. Watch this space.