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Panasonic to Launch Blu-ray Production Centers

Despite looming incompatibility problems with a second format, Panasonic will start operating a pilot production line for Blu-ray Disc (BD-ROM) replication within its Torrance, Calif., disc-manufacturing facility, and open a technology center this week for creating Blu-ray titles in a Panasonic lab in Universal City in Hollywood. Blu-ray--one of two competing next-generation DVD formats for HD--has up to 50 GB capacity, which is enough to hold most motion pictures in HD, plus typical added special features. Blu-ray is Sony's tech baby; Toshiba is pushing the more generic-sounding "HD DVD" format.

By opening the replication line and authoring tech center, Panasonic hopes to spur the development of a local end-to-end BD-ROM technology base for title production services and further demonstrate actual Blu-ray Disc title creation to Hollywood studios, replicators and production houses. Panasonic was heavily involved in developing the ultra-precise spin-coating technology used to form the 0.1mm layer used in Blu-ray.

Working with production machinery manufacturer Origin Electric, Panasonic has developed technologies for the efficient mass production of BD-ROM discs using cost-effective resin coating, according to the company. The Blu-ray Disc line will begin full pilot production of single-layer BD-ROM discs by the end of this month; dual-layer BD-ROM discs will start up by December. (If you're in Las Vegas this week, the MediaTech 2005 Expo now underway through tomorrow, May 12, at Mandalay Bay is featuring a presentation of the BD-ROM pilot production line at the Marubeni booth.)