Digital Digest - LiveUpdate Newsletter

Digital Digest - LiveUpdate Newsletter DIGITAL DIGEST - LIVE UPDATE Issue 30

Your "whenever I have time to write one" newsletter
Saturday, 24th August, 2002


0. Section Zer0 - An Introduction to this Issue

1. Sigma Antics

2. Star Wars Episode II DVD and Fullscreen Madness

3. How to Cancel/Change Your Subscription Email Address/Settings
- how to maintain the subscription to this newsletter even if your email address has changed

4. A Simple Thank-you
- a thank-you message for all those that joined this list


0. Section Zer0

Welcome to this, the 30th issue, of the Digital Digest LiveUpdate newsletter.

Another issue and yet another GPL violation, and this time, it has caused the development of XviD to halt (and hopefully, only temporarily). The news of Star Wars Episode II coming to DVD sooner than expected will help lighten to mood a little and the stupid "Attack of the Clones" title should bring a few laughs, but be warned, I might spoil the mood again by complaining about fullscreen DVDs ;-)

Enjoy :)

-- DVDGuy

1. Sigma Antics

Once again, GPL abuse and violation has become news of the day. This time, it's the widely respected Sigma Designs company, makers of the best DVD decoder card, the Hollywood+. In their haste to add support for DivX into their new Xcard hardware decoder card (which is said to support DivX - more about that later), parts of the open-source XviD codec code was used in Sigma's MPEG-4 codec without acknowledgement to XviD and the GPL violated. The GPL (GNU General Public License) states that if open-source code is used in a project, that project must be released as open-source as well, to ensure open-source project don't end up as closed source in the hands of Microsoft, for example (just imagine "Microsoft Linux XP" - sends chills down my spine).

RMP4 - stolen? 

XviD has stopped all development of the XviD codec until this matter is resolved, which makes sense, since why should they work hard so Sigma can profit from it?

The XviD team (and others) has known about this since July, and they didn't come out publicly about this until now in the hope of that Sigma would do what is reasonable and release the source code, or completely remove XviD code from their code. It seems Sigma then tried to pull a major one on XviD by "disguising" the stolen code. Oh well ... out in the public it goes.

Sigma was now quite willing to respond (probably has something to do with the number of complaint emails they received), and within 24 hours, they announced their intentions to release the source code in a press release. However, there has been no apology, no explanation, no mention of XviD what-so-ever and you still have to abide by Sigma's Software Licensing Agreement before you can even download the source.

Sigma's much touted Xcard hardware decoder card (decodes DVD + DivX) also seems to be in trouble, as DivX Networks has come to the defense of XviD by saying that Xcard is not DivX compatible after all, and that while DivX Networks seems to have been in cooperation with Sigma several months ago, the lack of cooperation from Sigma has ended that relationship and also ended the possibility of having the first DivX hardware decoder card on the market anytime soon.

Interesting times, indeed ...

Related Links :

Official XviD site 
XviD Explained (Newsletter Issue 29) 
Sigma's Software Licensing Agreement

Related Discussions :

XviD Development Stopped due to code stealing by Sigma Designs's forum posting on Sigma VS XviD, and Xcard's DivX compatibility

2. Star Wars Episode II DVD and Fullscreen Madness

"Clones" on widescreen DVD
"Clones" on widescreen DVD - original and good version

Star Wars Episode II, Attack of the Clones, will be released on DVD in November (on the 12th, to be exact). I don't know about you, but as a devoted Star Wars fan, I found Attack of the Clones (ATOC) to be a pretty enjoyable movie. The stupid title aside (was "The Clone Wars" already used/registered or something ??), I found "Clones" a quite a bit more enjoyable than Episode I. While it pales in comparison to any of the original trilogy movies, the movie is littered with memorable moments that I would love to enjoy again and again on DVD.

Going into the theatre on the opening weekend for "Clones" (and nearly didn't get to watch the film, due to most of the early screenings being sold out), I knew that sooner or later (and hoping for sooner), the DVD was going to come out. I must admit I was a little surprised that the DVD was coming out less than 6 month after the theatrical release, considering how stingy George Lucas is with his DVD releases (please don't get me started on that one again ...) and how long it took Episode I to get released.

While the early release date may suggest that not a lot of work has gone into the DVD release (and admittedly, even if the DVD has only mono sound and with no extras and half the movie is in black and white, I, and many others "of my kind" would probably still go out and buy it), this is not true for the Episode II DVD. It seems that this time round, George Lucas has been working on the DVD release since day one and the 6 month wait for the DVD is merely to ensure that Clones' theatrical run has ended (for all we know, the final master for the Episode II DVDs may already be sitting in George Lucas' safe, ready to be mass replicated in the coming months).

Those familiar with the Episode I DVD will know what kind of extras to be made available, just your typical second disc stuffed with all sorts of documentaries, featurettes, a music video and the obligatory trailers/TV spots. Audio commentary from a whole host of people, including Mr. Lucas and Mr. McCallum, are included on the first disc. No DTS audio, for obvious reasons.

What is interesting, however, is that a full screen version will be made available for both Episode I and Episode II (available as a double-pack on November 12th). Seeing how Mr. Lucas is so keen on presenting the film in a way that matches his original vision (hence the Special Editions) and how the Special Editions were marketed to people "who have never seen Star Wars in the way it should be seen, in the theatre with glorious widescreen", it seems quite odd now to release a hacked-up pan-and-scan fullscreen version just to please those who complain about their movie "missing the top and bottom bits".

I am one of those that believe widescreen should be made mandatory for DVDs for movies that were released as widescreen - sure, you can include the fullscreen version on a second disc, but you should not be able to release a movie in fullscreen only (example : Harry Potter Region-4 DVD - no widescreen version!!!!). This should also help promote widescreen TV sets, which will then go on to promote digital TV and HD TV and then we can all live happily ever after. If we don't stop fullscreen DVDs, how long before George Lucas announces that the original Star Wars trilogy will only be released as fullscreen titles on DVD, and that the widescreen versions will not be made available until the next digital video format (eg. HD-DVD) comes out ???

"Clones" on DVD
"Clones" on fullscreen DVD - badly hacked version

Purchase Links :

Star Wars Episode II Widescreen Region-1
Star Wars Episode II Fullscreen Region-1
Star Wars Episode II Widescreen Region-4

Related Links :

More information on the DVD features article on Episode II DVD
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment press release on the Episode II DVD

Related Discussions :

Discuss the Episode II DVD here

3. How to Cancel/Change Settings/Email address for Your Subscription to this Newsletter

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4. A simple thank-you

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