The Kodak Photo CD system is a product which can touch lives in a way similar to slides, home movies and camcorders. Since this technology can be many things to many people, its impact will be felt for years to come. It can be used like slides which can be watched on a television or a graphic artist can use it for the highlight spot in an ad campaign.
As a multimedia tool, the Photo CD system represents a method where high quality, high resolution images can be obtained from conventional 35mm film without the need for a high resolution color transparency scanner. For the results achieved, Photo CD represents an extremely low cost (about $20 / 24 exposure roll) alternative to these scanners and data storage devices to store the enormous images. (A single uncompressed 2048x3072 24 bit image takes over 18 megabytes of storage space.) Using a unique method however, about one hundred 35mm color pictures can fit on a single Photo CD disk (in some circumstances, more than one hundred may fit on a single disk).
The actual Photo CD disk consists of a poly-carbonate base, a 24K gold reflectance layer and an Ultra-violet cured protective coating and looks quite similar to the standard audio CD used in the home. Photo CD Master disks contain each image in 5 different 24 bit resolutions (128x192, 256x384, 512x768, 1024x1536 and 2048x3072). The Photo CD disk is packed in a plastic jewel case with an index print showing small versions of each picture to create a visual table of contents.
Kodak currently markets six models of Photo CD players (three consumer electronics models and three photo retail models) which can display Photo CD pictures, without the need of a computer. With a computer, and a compatible CD ROM drive, the images can be brought into programs such as Mathematica's Tempra Access, Asymetrix's MediaBlitz!, Kodak's Photo Access and Kodak's PhotoEdge for the PC format and programs such as QuickTime 1.5 for the Macintosh format. These images can then be modified, cropped or enlarged to be used in the multimedia application.
Although Photo CD has been an evolving technology, since it was announced about two and half years ago, it promises to make a major impact on computer technology, photography and multimedia presentations.
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