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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 15:39 GMT 16:39 UK
Double disc might end hi-def war
Wall of screens at IFA show, AFP/Getty
Many people are buying big screens to show hi-def films
Inventors have come up with a design for a disc that can store copies of films in rival high-definition formats.

A US patent has been filed for the discs that could hold both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray versions of movies.

Currently movie makers and technology companies are dividing into camps that back either one or the other of the two formats.

The creation of the discs could end the looming battle over the different high-definition formats.

Format wars

The design of the disc patented in the US would have three layers. One for a standard DVD version of a film and then one for each of the competing formats.

The innovation is thought to be possible because the rival formats store data on the discs at different depths.

Using reflective films should make it possible to store data for one movie format in one layer but to see through that, if needed, to the deeper layer which has the same movie in the rival format.

The engineers behind the idea reportedly work for the Warner Brothers movie studio.

The idea could end the potential confusion that consumers face as high-definition films in different formats start to go on sale.

Few movie studios are planning to release films in both high-definition formats; the majority are backing Blu-ray. Only three are backing HD-DVD.

This week movie studio Universal announced it would not support the Sony-backed Blu-Ray format.

In late September Warner Brothers will release the first movie in both high-definition formats.

For consumers the issue is made more confusing because Microsoft and Sony have backed different formats for their next generation games consoles.

Industry analysts have predicted that the confusion could mean the market for high-definition movies is stunted until one format becomes dominant.

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