Of all the home toys previously looked at in this series of articles, the Sirius Movie CD is probably the most obscure. But, is also one of the most innovative and the Movie CD would pave the way for the DVD-ROM drive so many end users now take for granted.
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The Sirius Movie CD was introduced to the public in 1997. Arizona based Sirius Publishing (no relation the the satellite radio company) had the concept of allowing computer users to use CD-ROM’s, previously used for text information, stored images, and short video clips, to view full, feature-length Hollywood movies on the CD-ROM drives present in their desktop PC’s and laptops.
DVD’s were just starting to appear when the Sirius Movie CD was hitting the market. It was the DVD that would spell a quick end for this innovative, if poorly timed, product. Sirius Movie CD catalogues professed the following:
It’s the newest CD-ROM sensation! Now you can watch movies, music videos, cartoons, sports and much more on your home, office, or laptop computer. Movie CD transforms your personal computer in to your very own Personal Entertainment Center. Enjoy “TV-quality” full-motion, full-screen video without having to purchase additional computer hardware or software. There is no MPEG required, although Movie CDs do run on MPEG-equipped computers.
The most important part of Movie CD’s tagline is that it was not necessary to purchase additional hardware or software. PC users who had machines with100MHZ processors could run and view an entire 2 hour movie without any interruption. Every CD-ROM contained a motion pixels decompressor which would uncompress the file on the CD-ROM which had been compressed when the CD-ROM was manufactured. Whether or not your PC already had the decompression software, every time the user installed a Movie CD, the decompressor was installed this way insuring that end users always had the most up to date software.
Established in 1994, the Motion Pixels Company had developed innovative video technologies that allow full-frame, high-quality video to be displayed on a multimedia personal computer, a feature previously unattainable without theuse of additional computer hardware. The Motion Pixels compression/decompression (codec) technology represented a significant advance in digital video technologies. Playback was accomplished through a compact code that provides a fully-scaleable performance over several different configurations based on PC system capabilities and a patent pending enlargement technology that plays full-screen video on relatively modest computer systems. The result was video compression that provides an unparalleled combination of video quality and compression ratios.
The Sirius Movie CD was a marvelous creation and the CD-ROM’s which were released worked very well and represented a giant leap forward in CD-ROM movie technology. By 1997, the small Arizona based company had released around 100 titles in the Movie CD format. The company had secured the rights to a large variety of titles including hit movies, music specials, music video compilations, anime, cel animation, concerts, and documentaries.
However, the Movie CD would meet up with stiff competition as DVD discs and players began to dropin price. New PC’s and newer versions of Microsoft Windows could easily play any factory produced Region 1, NTSC DVD without the need of additional software. Drawing from their own extensive libraries, movie companies opened the floodgates as DVD movies of all kind poured onto the market. Sirius Publishing, slowed by the need to lockdown thr rights to release material, was overcome in the avalanche of new releases. By the year 2000, the company had folded.
Anything having to do with the format is gone as well. A website, www.moviepixels.com, established to aid users with technical problems associated with the Movie CD player was taken down and all sales of the Movie CD’s was halted. In addition, newer versions of Windows, namely Windows XP, do not support the Motion Pixels player so users who had purchased CD-ROMs could no longer play them.
Next Classic Home Toys Installment: Look…up in the sky…it’s bird…no it’s a plane…no it’s the Sony Discman.