HD DVD's Animatronic Secret Weapon Not Enough to Defeat Blu-ray

As if 1080p video, full-resolution audio, net connectivity and multi-tuner signal decoding wasn't enough, Toshiba's HD DVD team had even cooked up a system of embedded animatronic control before the format was put out of its misery. In this video left over from CES 2008, this little mechanical jazz band playing the Duke Ellington classic "Take the A Train" is controlled by, that's right, an HD DVD disc. Here's how:

HD_DVD_Animatronics.jpgThe disc is encoded with an animation control signal embedded directly into the video channel (sort of like how Dolby ProLogic was just mixed into stereo audio tracks). That signal is interpreted in a separate outboard box, which uses the animation cues to tell the figurines how to move. All in all, a fairly labour-intensive process that would have required the purchase of an additional box, not to mention a collection of tiny plastic chanteuses, cool cats and swingin' daddy-o's. But if you wanted the power of a full miniature jazz band made of plastic in your very own living room, you lost your chance.

We loved you HD DVD. But we can't help but think what could have been if your developers wasted less on this sort of R&D and stuffed a little more of that cash into envelopes aimed at studios like Fox. After all, it might work if the video playing was Star Wars, and those figurines were holding lightsabers. [HD DVD coverage on Giz]

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