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Blu-ray Extras: It's the Wild West

23 Jun, 2008 By: Stephanie Prange

I haven't felt the business was so fluid since the early days of DVD.

Speakers at last week's transFORMATions conference, presented by Home Media Magazine, thought that the innovative Blu-ray Disc extras of BD Live, showcased on Walt Disney Home Entertainment's Sleeping Beauty, would look primitive compared to what disc producers would create in years to come.

Home Media Magazine publisher and editorial director Thomas K. Arnold noted that he recently watched an old DVD copy of Warner Home Video's Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? that listed a making-of extra consisting of a bunch of writing on the screen. That seems archaic compared to the elaborate making-of DVD extras we are now accustomed to viewing.

And I'm sure today's BD Live extras will look ancient to those who see them in the future.

We are only skimming the surface of what the Blu-ray Disc technology can do. We've gotten a few hints, such as the chatting technology Disney showcased on Sleeping Beauty, and such innovative creations as the Blu-ray of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which online writers during the conference noted was a great venue to see the many versions of a film.

Now that the format war is over and the next (and perhaps last) packaged-media format has been chosen, it's up to the creative minds at the studios to show us what they can do with the increased capacity and interactivity Blu-ray Disc offers.

Studios are setting up sites that create social networks for Blu-ray Disc viewers of their movies. We could possibly see a number of films (that don't require the HD resolution) packed onto a single Blu-ray Disc. Like the Close Encounters disc, we could see multiple versions of a single film encapsulated on one Blu-ray Disc.

Mundane things such as menus are likely to become more useful, allowing viewers to jump to commentary or other extras in the middle of the film. In years to come, viewers will find that going back to the menu seems antiquated.

It's very unclear what the Blu-ray format will offer viewers in the future. But if Blu-ray is to continue as a vibrant format, it's got to be something completely new. The ball is now in the disc producers' court.

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