About a week ago, Disney officially unveiled the BD-Live features that they are including with the upcoming Platinum Edition Blu-ray release of 'Sleeping Beauty', due to hit store shelves on October 4th. Luckily, they decided to take their presentation on the road, and today visited Washington, DC in order to show off what they have been working on to those of us stuck on the East Coast.
While I was waiting for the presentation to begin (and drying off - more on that later), I had a chance to talk with some reps from Panasonic who were there to lend support for their DMP-BD50 - the first BD-Live stand-alone player on the market. Disney's long-standing relationship with Panasonic could not have been more beneficial.
Typical of Disney, they took a standard conference room and transformed it into a little piece of the Magic Kingdom. The first room had a large Panasonic plasma connected to a DMP-BD50, which was used to show video of the special features in action. The presentation started with some select quotes from Walt Disney himself regarding how technology makes the world feel smaller while at the same time making the possibilities of entertainment much larger. It was very appropriate for what I was about to see next.
I was shown how viewers will, come this November, be able to chat with their friends while watching the film, send video messages embedded into clips of the film, and challenge their friends to an online quiz game. Of course, watching the features on a display is great-and-all, but experiencing them first-hand is what I was really looking forward to. It was at that point that I was moved into a second room where I was able to play with Disney's new BD-Live features.
The Movie Mail feature allows you to send video messages embedded in scenes from the film to anyone who also owns the same Blu-ray title.
The first feature I tried out was Movie Mail. A helpful representative took a 30 second video (the final version will allow up to 2 minutes of recording) where I introduced myself and said hello to - well - whomever was going to watch it. A few minutes after uploading the film to Disney's website, it popped up on one of the displays as a new message. Using the remote to view the message, a pre-selected scene from the film began to play, as did my video in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
Before you deviants get any bad ideas, each video that is uploaded will be screened before being sent to your intended recipient. And yes, I was assured that there are people who are paid to watch your messages all day and make sure nothing inappropriate gets sent on their system.
The Movie Challenge is a fun way to challenge your friends to movie knowledge. It provides a new way to watch the film with your friends, no matter where you are physically located.
Next I tried the BD-Live Movie Challenge. As the film plays, you can play a quiz game of varying difficulty against hundreds of players online. For this demonstration, the difficulty was set to expert, but there will also be beginner and intermediate settings. I was facing off against another representative, and I didn't fair too well. Questions are worth 10,000 points each, but the longer you take to answer the question, the less points the correct answer will be worth.
Using the Panasonic DMP-BD50 remote control, I was able to smoothly select the correct answer (or an incorrect answer) and started raking up the points. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Sleeping Beauty isn't up-to-snuff, and I lost. Overall, it was enjoyable, and I can see how having hundreds of competitors could make it a very competitive game.
Movie Chat allows friend to talk about their favorite scenes, or film aficionados to critique every frame of the film with those who enjoy doing the same, all in real-time.
Finally, I tried the Movie chat. As the film is playing, a window pops up where you can chat with your friends. One person acts as the host and the others join. This means, if the host pauses their player to answer the door, all those in the chat will have their players paused as well.
The BD-Live program does come with an onscreen QWERTY keyboard, but its so painful, I doubt anyone will use it. Luckily, Disney was thinking exactly the same thing and provides many input options. Those text-savvy viewers can type exactly as they would on their cellphones using the triple-tap of the numbers on the remote. PDA owners can use their iPhone or Blackberry (or any other devise with Internet access and a keyboard) to type up a message. And if you have a laptop, you can bring that in front of the TV and type away. No matter which you choose, input is fast and easy.
Going into this event, I already knew what features to expect from Disney. What I was surprised to see was how well these features had been integrated into the film, and how well they were executed on the stand-alone Panasonic DMP-BD50 Blu-ray player. These did not feel like marketing afterthoughts, but rather carefully planned and executed ideas on how Disney wants to attract movie fans to Blu-ray.
The greatest part about this entire presentation is that its only the beginning. Disney has big ideas for BD-Live, and they have the enthusiasm and desire necessary to make Blu-ray a complete movie viewing experience. I'm still drying off (have you ever seen those weathermen standing in the middle of a hurricane, being blown around uncontrollably? That was me as I walked to the presentation), but after talking with the Disney reps, and seeing the in-work product, I know that 'Sleeping Beauty' is going to be simply amazing, and that future Disney titles are going to be even better.
I am definately looking forward to this...this films music was originally recorded in 6-channel
sound in germany and comes from a 2.55:1 70mm negative, not 2.20:1 like the previous DVD.
This is easily the best animation Disney produced in his lifetime, and will certainly set the
standard for all Disney blu-rays to follow.
I don't mean to sound like a bad person, but can't people just watch the movie? It sounds like it is a program for children who have A.D.D. and can't sit still. It is equal to sitting in a theatre with a bunch of people talking. Some interactivity is fine but I will NEVER interrupt a film to chat with someone, it goes against what watching a film is about. Leave the chat rooms for afterward. / I think that Disney should've spent their resources for better things, I can't wait for this Blu Ray to be released but for the film and the real extras.
What fun this will be. My wife and I have “Dinner and a Move” parties every time a worthy movie comes out. Nine times out of ten that “worthy movie” is a Disney movie. Projected at 120” with a good sound system, we’ve had teenagers as our guest return for seconds (of the movies that is). It will be a great addition (and a great way to show off my Blu-ray) being able to have a trivia game after a movie.
Had I known Disney was in town, I would have tried to be there.
Very cool update. I just hope more features are to come, using more imagination and creativity. Chatting, video clips, etc are nice and all, but something more integrated into the film itself would be awesome!
I applaud Disney for taking a bold step into the BD-Live future. And while I personally don't find these three features to be of great interest, I agree that this is just the beginning and look forward to the new and limitless features to come. As I have read, BD-Live will support the downloading of many content items, such as, trailers, outtakes, commentaries, etc, that were not available by the release time. Perhaps this will enable the studios to release BDs earlier.
I might use the chat feature to say, "Hey guys, I discovered this cool Easter Egg. Go to the Setup menu, hit the right arrow key twice . . ." But I am looking for more. I'm not really sure what I would do with such interactivity if I were working in the development department of a studio, but these features are not what would wish for. How about you? What do you think would be a cool use for BD-Live? Perhaps watching the movie in the first person where you would take the viewpoint of a character you choose (multiple camera angles)?