Victory for the Video Down-Rez Police
Analogue down-rezzing, or the down-converting of video signals through analogue outputs, has long been speculated among videophiles as the fate of the new optical storage formats. Last Friday VideoBusiness.com reported those fears came true. The analogue video from some Blu-Ray and HD DVD movie discs will require video down - conversion to 960 x 540 from its full 1920 x 1080 potential.
AACS (Advanced Access Content System) is a brain trust composed of eight entertainment and technology companies tasked with hammering out the content protection system to be used by both HD DVD and Blu-Ray devices. Hardware manufacturers will be required to abide by policies set forth by the AACS.
Image Constraint Token is a digital flag to be inserted into next generation optical storage discs to which all hardware will be required to respond. The ICT can be set on or off at the discretion of the studio releasing the disc. The "on" position will result in the video signal being downgraded through the analogue outputs of the playback device. The studio releasing the disc makes the decision to turn on ICT but is required to label packaging to inform consumers if it will employ video down-conversion.
The idea of the ICT is that it will give the option of protecting content through non-HDCP compliant devices. The net result is that owners of HDTV's that don't have DVI or HDMI inputs won't be able to see HD DVD or Blu-Ray movies at their full resolution.
So far no studio has commented on how they'll use ICS, of course the hills are alive with the sounds of speculation. Warner is a member of the AACS and was reportedly ICS's strongest supporter. Sony, also a member of AACS and was rumored to clash with Warner on the ICS issue. 20th Century Fox is a non-member of AACS and has argued in the past against similar constraints. Disney, NBC Universal and Paramount are rumored to be in favor of using the down-rez option.
Special Thanks to www.hometheaterfocus.com