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Microsoft And Amazon Team Up On High-Def DVDs

The partnership is part of Amazon's plans to bring as many as 1,000 feature-length indie films to customers using its CustomFlix DVD On Demand technology. and Microsoft on Monday announced an effort to make it easier for independent filmmakers to produce and distribute movies on high-definition DVDs through a new manufacturing process pioneered by an Amazon subsidiary.

The 1,000 HD DVD Indies Project will be spearheaded by Amazon's CustomFlix unit, which plans to bring as many as 1,000 feature-length indie films to Amazon customers using its CustomFlix DVD On Demand technology.

The technology allows for the production and shipment of DVDs as soon as they are ordered online, cutting down costly inventory requirements, Amazon said. The DVDs will be formatted in Microsoft's VC-1 video codec format.

"Programs like this one from Amazon lower barriers to entry for independent artists and provide audiences with increased access to high-quality, high-definition content," said Christian Vesper, senior VP of programming, acquisitions and scheduling for Sundance Channel, in a statement.

Sundance Channel will be reviewing the high-definition features for potential broadcast on the network, as well as making its own HD original eco-series, Big Ideas For A Small Planet, available for purchase through Amazon's HD DVD program.

HD DVD is one of two formats competing for dominance in the high-definition DVD market. The other, Sony's Blu-ray format, appears to be gaining the upper hand. Most major Hollywood studios have committed to Blu-ray. Video-rental company Blockbuster last month said it had decided to offer movies in the Blu-ray high-definition format in 1,700 corporate-owned stores, while limiting rentals of slower-moving HD DVD movies to 250 stores.

Filmmakers interested in submitting their HD DVD work for consideration as part of the 1,000 HD DVD Indies Project can go to Amazon's CustomFlix site for more information.

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