Plug & Play      Volume 8     Number 1  Circulation over 1,200  
Editor Paul Holmes
Our e-mail address is either Paul.Holmes@ icdia.org or 
IDMA1999@aol.com (IDMA1988@aol.com is closed.)

1999 the Happy New Year for DVD ??? You gotta read this!!!
Will this year be the year we all start making and using DVD?
Until an hour ago, I would have said,"Maybe."  Now I say,"Definitely," Why?
Everyone I talked to said, "When you can record DVD straight from the TV and
replace your VCR, it will succeed, not before. " An hour ago Philips announced
they have developed technology for real-time recording of DVD-Video discs.
The recorded discs can be played back on existing DVD-Video players.  The
system offers up to 4 hours record/playback time at DVD to VHS quality levels.
This breakthrough is achieved by using DVD+RW technology with 4.7 GB capacity.
The technology offers the performance required for real-time recording of
television and camcorder tapes. 
Adri Baan, Chairman and CEO of Philips Consumer Electronics division, stated
that the technology offers two unique advantages.  "The recorded discs can be
played back on existing DVD-Video players and recordings can be made in real-
time.  There is no need for a lengthy, multi-step process on a PC.'' (Great
news for developers?)
Philips plans to introduce the first DVD-Video recording products in the year
2000, offering very high picture quality and ease of use.
This is the missing link, we have all been waiting for, now DVD as a consumer
product is a guaranteed success.'' 
As you all know by now the IDMA is not normally concerned with the consumer
world.  So, why are we so excited to learn that DVD Video is going to succeed
in the consumer world.  
We have learnt our lesson from CD-I, if the consumer market fails then the
supply of professional players dries up soon after.  Electronics companies can
only develop and manufacture complex electronic equipment when the market is
for huge quantities.  Once the 'consumer product assembly line' is operating,
then one can run specials for a day now and then and can therefore manufacture
so called professional players, (Consumer players with a few bits extra) at a
price our clients can afford. 
With the power of the corporations involved, the appeal of the product and
Recordable DVD just down the road, I am sure it will eventually replace the
VCR in our stereo cabinets. 
So with a supply of very well priced players available for the foreseeable
future, what else is stopping us from making DVD titles?
The price of admission to the world of DVD is still to high for a developer of
titles required in small numbers.  Again, like CD-I the entry price is set for
those who are going to make and sell thousands of copies of their titles.
CD-i should have been the multimedia product that everyone uses today.
Remember it had full motion video and full interaction almost ten years ago.
Why didn't everyone use it, because the price of entry was too high for the
personal user and only viable for a few hundred professional developers.
They, have done very well out of CD-i.  In fact when you look around at
today's successful multimedia developers, a lot of them got their start with
the help of Philips and CD-i. Today CD-I still has it's devoted followers.
Please don't let us make the same mistakes with DVD.  DVD should be for
everyone.
Here is a wish list for 1999.  Based on what you the readers have asked for.
1) An interactive DVD Video standard, with all the functionality of CD-i. 
(VMLab's, Project X now called the Nuon, will this be the answer?)
2) A DVD Video player that will play DVD, with MPEG2 that has been recorded on
a CDR.  
(At least one major manufacturer has promised to try very hard to make this a
reality.)
3) A DVD recorder at less than $1,000.  
(Again at least one manufacturer has made this commitment.)
4) A DVD Video Authoring software program available at around $6,000 with a
big name backing.  
(At the moment there is a product at this price from MTC, but few people have
heard of it.)
And I wish:
5) That these and other the companies trying to make DVD a success, would join
the IDMA and help us promote the Professional uses of DVD, in our world of
marketing, kiosks, sales, presentations and training.  Call me 440 349 9661,
lets do it together.  We can't do it with out the help of the Industry.

Super VideoCD. Threat or Promise.
What is Super VideoCD? 
How will it affect you and the platform you use for you multimedia efforts?
SVCD is a development of VCD, taking place mainly in Asia, where VideoCD's are
so popular.  The big difference, you can play MPEG2 files, that's very high
quality video on a player that costs less that $100.  
In spite of this very attractive price, however, I am still not sure SVCD is
the way to go. 
I understand that at least one DVD Video manufacturer is about to launch a
player that can play both DVD-Video and SVCD.  While this will be around $800,
it is a professional player, ensuring much better quality and has of course
the ability to play regular DVD-Video.  In the current corporate climate, it
is probably easier to get $800 for a much-hyped DVD-Video Player than $100 for
an unknown Super-VCD player.  Then when the cost of making DVD titles drops
you will be all set to play them as well.
However I still think that in the short term and for special circumstances
were low cost is the deciding factor, SVCD has an important part to play.
For instance, Video Messenger, company, who produce the device one sees in
hotels and stores, with a scrolling message over a video, are incorporating
SVCD in their player.  Where you sell by the thousand and the requirement is
for high quality video, then SVCD has an opportunity.
So how does SVCD fit into the 'mix' while we wait for the entry price of  DVD
to come down?
In my opinion here are the currently available, practical, cost effective and
proven successful alternatives for 1999:
1) For titles that need only MPEG1 with simple chapters, VideoCD 2.0.
2) For many titles that need MPEG1 and complex interactivity,  CD-i.  is still
the best.
3) For titles where the requirement is MPEG2 quality video and complex
interactivity Panasonic's M2 is currently the obvious choice.  For longer
titles M2X which uses the DVD disc would be the one.
4) For titles with MPEG2 quality and only simple video like controls, then
SVCD looks like the answer, whether you play it on a SVCD player or one of the
new DVD/SVCD players when they arrive.  See later in the news-letter for more
information on SVCD.
For those who decide to use SVCD, "CDMotion for VideoCD" an authoring software
that supports SVCD will be available late January.  Coupled with a low cost
CDR burner, which some of us already own, this will enable us to make MPEG2
titles entirely in-house at a very low cost. 

Don't Panic
Every now and then I get a developer calling in a panic because he has heard
that Philips have stopped CD-I player production.  Philips stopped continuous
production when the consumer market went away.  They continue to produce CD-i
players, as do Digital Video Systems on a batch basis.  Developers forecast
requirements and both manufacturers make the required amounts.  I am assured
that supplies will be available for some considerable time and spares and
support for seven years after.

Is America ahead of Europe in the DVD race, Yes?  What does that mean to you?
It means there is an opportunity for American developers and MPEG2 service
bureaus in the world's single biggest market: Europe.  
America worked hard and invested heavily to get ahead in the DVD race.  There
is now the opportunity to obtain work from European clients desperate for
experience and effective pricing.
The opportunity is the second pan-European DVD Summit 2.  It is this year's
big European DVD conference and it takes place in Dublin Castle, Ireland, from
March 30th to the 1st April.
European developers are frantically looking for low cost MPEG2 encoding,
available only in the USA.  If you have invested in this capability; you need
to be there to offer your services.
If you have made professional DVD titles, you also need to be there, clients
are looking for developers with experience, who can show finished work and who
can promise, high quality and prompt delivery.  
Cash in your expertise, we are ahead now, but they will catch up fast.
As the head of IDMA, I have been asked to chair the two professional (they
call it 'Enterprise') sessions at the Summit on applications of DVD in the
marketing, training and kiosk industries.
We will be discussing the latest developments, both here and in Europe.  It
will be a great opportunity to highlight your ideas, your new products and
success stories.  So I suggest that your first job this year is to ensure that
I am up to date with your company's efforts and secondly, try to attend the
Summit.  I am confident that you can easily recuperate the expenses with
orders and new contacts.  
Dublin Castle is also a fantastic place for a conference and the Irish know
how to lay on a party.  Dublin is a happening place, a real boomtown.  Did you
know that Ireland is the number two exporter of software after the US, draws
most American technology investment in Europe, and builds a third of Europe's
PCs?  Well, it certainly surprised me.  Several hundred IT companies call
Ireland home, including Intel, Dell and IBM. And there's a huge localization
industry wit over 600 companies, 15,000 people. Many of those companies will
be attending the conference.
As a delegate you will also be invited to enter titles in the European DVD
Awards.
These will be presented at a glittering banquet in the State Room on 31 March,
following speeches by the Irish minister of trade and our old friend Frank
Pauli of Philips.  
The organizers, keen to get us over from the States and knowing that the air
fare might be a problem for some of us, has made an arrangement with Aer
Lingus which allows delegates to fly direct to Dublin at 'Saturday' rates
instead of normal midweek fares.
Contact the Second pan-European DVD Summit conference at their web site,
www.dvdsummit.com or e-mail tossa@pobox.com for details.

Interactive Advertisements
As you know by now one of my pet hates is advertising.  Advertising is
basically only information about a product or service, if I don't need it I
don't want the information, so I don't want to waste my life watching
advertisements for stuff I don't want.  However, there are certain things that
interest me, things that I do want information about and quickly.  
Today the normal place to look for information is the web.  However when you
find something of interest, sending them an e-mail with all that entails is
neither fast nor efficient enough.  How about the ability to communicate
immediately. 
By placing a "Call me" button on your web site, 'Instant call' has achieved
just that.  When the user selects the button icon on their computer screen, a
"Call Me" page asks for their phone number and if they only have one line how
long they would like the recipient to wait before returning the call.  Then a
telephone call is made to the 'Instant Call' switch, which connects your
telephone to the advertiser's telephone.  They receive a recorded message that
they are about to be connected with an Instant Call.  Within seconds, you can
be talking to the advertiser.  For those of us involved in training,  imagine,
an on-line training program with the professor's 'Mortarboard' as an Icon.
Whenever one needs information, select the icon and in minutes, the telephone
would ring with a live tutor to solve your problems.  After each call an e-
mail message is sent to the caller to confirm the call.  Saving these e-mails
creates an Instant Call phone record.
In the future, I can see these 'Call Me' icons as a button on the 'Set top box
clicker'.  As you watch a program, instead of stopping every fifteen minutes
for advertisements which are of very little interest, an icon would high-light
when for instance, the star was wearing a new fashion, driving a new car or
even eating at a fashionable restaurant.  If you pressed the button only for
those that were interesting to you, at the end of the program you would have a
personal set of advertisements for just the items that you had selected.
After browsing this personal selection of advertisements, any selected for
further information would link immediately to the companies web site, where,
you guessed it, selecting a "Call Me" button.  This would result in a call
from the sales man or other information provider within minutes. 
For regular users, another neat feature is that after the first call, Instant
Call already has the Call page filled in with your telephone and e-mail
address.  So it is literally just two mouse clicks and the phone rings.
Although this is brand-new technology, Instant call has already landed a
contract with a major telephone company.
If you are a developer, not only will this help you sell programs to your
clients; it will earn you a commission on all calls made using the systems you
are responsible for.
To try an Instant "Call Me" button visit http://www.instantcall.com.  For
information there is also a simple 'Faxback' system, call 703 834 8994 ask for
document 371.
When you are ready to talk about using the Instant call system, talk to John
Kirwin at 800 665 1526, or phoneman@IBM.net.  Please mention the IDMA or Plug
& Play.

Are you missing the Boat?
I mean the Panasonic M2 boat.  The companies that have taken the plunge report
a great deal of interest in M2's capabilities.  There are now at least seven
major projects underway, including three for automobile companies and one for
a project at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.  These are all POP/POS
titles and make use of the high quality video and 'CD-i like' interactivity
which are two of M2's features.  This combination is still not available
outside of computers.  So if you want the interactivity of CD-I but need the
high quality video normally associated with DVD then you should investigate
M2.  Now there is authoring software available from MTC, price is no longer a
deterrent either
One of the developers recognized as an industry leader, McGill Multimedia Inc.
saw the possibilities of M2 early last year and has since been advocating it
use to their clients. Rob Whent, President, McGill Multimedia Inc. told us,
"McGill is very excited and optimistic about the potential Panasonic's M2
platform offers.  This next generation television-based player offers huge
opportunities, not only in the POS market, but in the corporate training arena
as well" - 
Richard French VP of RISE INT'L tells me that they also are having success
interesting clients in M2 and M2X
The IDMA and Panasonic are in discussion, trying to find ways to allow our
members to experiment with M2 and create M2 demonstration titles for their
clients.  I will keep you posted.

CD-i titles and accessories.
I am frequently asked if I know were I can get controllers, video-cartridges,
titles and other 'stuff' for CD-i.  I am pleased to inform you that John Gray
tells me that pmpro has most items in stock, (visit www.pmpro.com,) 
Order by Credit card from 1-800-340-7888 or fax your requirements to
202-337-2514 

Technical stuff about Super VideoCD. Contributed by Rick Hallock of MTC.
Before we run off with the wrong idea, it is best to understand that SVCD is
NOT 
DVD. 
SVCD is the third generation of the VideoCD standards. As such, the underlying
technical aspects of the CD remain very much VideoCD 2.0 standards compliant. 
What has changed is the type and format of the content. Wherein VCD standard
uses MPEG1 formats, the SVCD standard calls for the use of MPEG2 with the
restriction that resolution be 1/2 or 3/4 D1 and the bit rate be constrained
to about 4mbs.
The underlying infrastructure and interactive navigational aspects of SVCD
remain 
VideoCD compliant, NOT DVD compliant.  The use of MPEG2 is with in the
constraints 
of the SVCD spec., well below the constraints of DVD, and thus from a
technical 
point of view, SVCD can not deliver the quality of DVD.  
Having said that, however, SVCD will delivery quality capability well above
that of any optical standard excepting for DVD.

The big questions regarding SVCD are:
(1) Will any one support it? 
(2) In what markets? 
(3) At what price levels? 
(4) For how long?

With DVD players now at the $275 level and still falling like a rock, there
seems to be little room in the price curve for SVCD in the US or Europe. Many
of the eastern block countries are already moving to DVD and so I don't expect
much there. Russia remains undecided, but I suspect that given they have no
technology today, DVD would seem to be the logical choice for them when they
make up their minds. The remainder of Asia, a huge market place, remains
undecided as well. 
However this market, which spans from the northern reaches of China around to
the 
eastern boarder of India, is now a VCD market and thus SVCD has a sound
foundation 
to build upon. Having said this, I hasten to point out that the Asian consumer
is not unlike a consumer anywhere else in the world. If faced with competing
formats, which is the case in regard to DVD and SVCD in that market, it is
totally unpredictable which way they will go. 
Thank you Rick for this information.  Other contributions are welcome.                  
                                        
The members of the IDMA are all professional multimedia developers.  
Among these members are experts in every facet of Interactive Digital Media.  
Our member's clients include most of the top corporations, in both Europe and
North America. 
Between them, they hold the key to success in this very competitive market
place.
The members of IDMA specialize in developing for Television Based Platforms,
such as 
WEB-DVD, Interactive-DVD, VideoCD, CD-I and Panasonic's M2 multimedia player.
Successful developing for Television Based Multimedia requires years of
training and experience.  Our members offer both this experience and also
access to their clients, through the relation ships and trust they have built
up over the years.  They have a  proven track record!
If you are a professional developer, in the fields of Training, Marketing or
Kiosks, then you should be a member.  Having the IDMA Logo on your notepaper
makes a statement.
If you supply products and services  such as, Authoring software, Disc
replication, Video encoding or Playback equipment, then your company should be
a Sponsor of the IDMA.  
Our members can be your largest and most experienced sales force.  The best
part, you don't have to pay them.  They will be the ones who recommend the
platform to the client.
Being close to the IDMA, helps make sure it is your product or service, they
recommend.
If you are just determining which products to purchase.  Who's services to
use, the capability of developers and most important the most cost effective
platform to use, then you should consult the IDMA.  The Association has a
library of over 2,000 examples of our member's work.
The IDMA serves as a source of information and help for potential users of
WEB-DVD, Interactive-DVD, DVD-Video, Internet, M2, CD-i, Video CD, Plug & play
CD-ROM, Web TV, Set Top Boxes and other Television-Based Multimedia.
The IDMA represents the largest and most influential group of Multimedia
developers with access to most of the important corporations in North America
and Europe.
                        
IDMA Mission Statement
The IDMA will provide both a Support Group and an Industry Association for the
next generation of Interactive Digital Media Developers and their clients.
They will provide an unbiased source of information on the various new
Interactive Digital Media platforms, their authoring software, players and
peripherals. 
They will help and assist multimedia developers with the transition from their
present media's to the next generation of Interactive Digital Media.
They will provide potential clients with a source of unbiased advice and
information on which to base their choice of Multimedia platform, enabling
them to select the most appropriate platform for the best results.
They will also encourage the continued convergence of the present media in the
interests of their members.
Types of Memberships
All members will receive a copies of 'Plug & Play,' our E-mail newsletter
which contains information of help and interest to our members.
A listing on the IDMA web-site with direct link to the members own web-sites
or e-mail address 
and a password which will in future give them access to the protected parts of
the web-site.
Members may have information published in 'Plug & Play' free of charge.
The IDMA will provide Booth space for members at several important
Exhibitions.  
A charge is made for this service, on a cost only basis.
Members have access to leading experts on the new Interactive Digital Media's
for information and answers to questions.
Members have access to most leading suppliers through the association and
normally are aware of developments before they become general knowledge.
Corporate members have in addition access to our members through the IDMA
member's mailing list and our database.
Corporate members will be listed as sponsors at shows and conferences, and
they may have their logos on the IDMA web-site.
Cost of Memberships
Cost of Corporate membership is Minimum $1,000 per year.    
Full membership is $250 per year
  

To become a member of the IDMA, please complete the form and return:

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For further details of the IDMA or for assistance with completing this form
please contact the IDMA at www.IDMANET.org or by phone at (440) 349 9661 or
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Transitioning to the Future Together, is easier than wandering in the
wilderness alone!

If for some strange reason you do not want any more copies of Plug  & Play,
just send me an  
e-mail telling me to stop. IDMA1999@aol.com (Please do not refer to it as Spam
it makes me very cross.)