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DVD Producers Hail Extras, Look Forward to High-Def

2 Apr, 2004 By: Kurt Indvik

Expanded interactivity, access to digital assets and the development of high-definition formats were some of the trends outlined by panelists during a session on DVD production during the Digital Hollywood conference held in Santa Monica, Calif.

Speakers from production shops like Think Digital and Creative Domain joined with technology and service providers such as Technicolor and DTS to talk about what their companies were doing in producing state-of-the-art DVDs.

While extras are important, it's still primarily the movie that consumers are being offered for home viewing. But DVD has the opportunity to profoundly change the way we experience music and musical talent, said Jeff Levison, technical director at DTS Entertainment.

A cutting-edge example, he noted, included a recent Megadeath DVD in which users could take a mix of a song and isolate instrument or vocal tracks to listen to individual band members perform their parts in the songs, thus “peeling back” layers of the song. He added that DVDs that include the full range of information about a band from interviews, liner notes, music videos, etc., are creating a product that can compete with the fragmented world of music single downloads, and create something fans want to own. “It's an album again,” he noted.

Technicolor's Garrett Cook, director of graphics and design, noted that along with more complex and interactive menus, studios are also looking for more interactivity and games in their major release titles, citing “Who Wants to be King of the Jungle” on Lion King 1-1/2 as a recent top-flight example. “We're seeing interest in multiplayer games, as well, so it's not just one person sitting in front of the TV experiencing the disc,” he said. Other panelists advised the audience to look for more “synchronicity” between DVDs and related Web bonus features, as well as increased use of 3-D technology.

While panelists agreed that talent is more open now then ever to participating in DVD development, often as not assets for the DVD are limited because production on the feature is not yet completed. This sometimes means that expanded, special edition DVDs must be timed for later release. Conversely, for catalog and older TV titles, assets are very limited and producers must be creative.

Panelists said producers are reaching the edges of DVD's capacity more frequently now and the “bucket” for bonus materials is pretty much full. In comments after the panel, Creative Domain EVP Mitchell Rubinstein, said that high-definition disc would have an impact on the development of bonus materials, providing more room for enhanced features, even while high-definition versions of the film also take up more space on the disc.

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