Sonic Solutions has formalized plans to support both the Blu-ray and HD DVD next-gen DVD standards in its authoring applications, creating new systems for professional-level media creation as well as adding capabilities to its consumer products.

The company is working on systems for professional HD DVD production to be launched in the summer. The systems are expected to be similar to Sonic’s Scenarist and DVD Creator products – which are aimed at high-end creation of discs such as Hollywood films and major label music DVDs.

Sonic is also working with Panasonic to create systems for authoring media in Blu-ray format. According to Sonic, Panasonic will contribute elements of the Blu-ray technology that will allow Sonic to build an authoring system around it. The systems will be aimed at those producing Blu-ray discs of Hollywood films. No date has been set for shipping systems to clients.

Blu-Ray, along with rival HD DVD, are the two major standards competing for the next generation of DVD devices. Both formats have been developed as consumers and content creators have sought to cram ever-more complex information and rich media content onto optical storage media. The Blu-Ray Disc Association (BDA) is the industry group promoting the format. Members include Dell, Hitachi, Panasonic parent company Matsushita Electric Industrial, Pioneer, Royal Philips Electronics NV, Sony and others.

HD DVD's initially approved format can't hold quite as much – 15GB for a single-layer disc and 30GB for a dual-layer disc. But it has its own backers, including Toshiba, NEC, Sanyo Electric and others. The first HD DVD drives are expected to begin shipping by the end of the first calendar quarter of 2005.