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Warner Touts 'Sherlock Holmes' Blu-ray Second-Screen App

7 Jun, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows' movie app

BURBANK, Calif. — Jonathan Gaines, executive director of special features for Warner Home Video, didn’t have trouble touting the latest and greatest bonus features from the studio, available with the June 12 Blu-ray Disc release of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Calling it a “glimpse into the future” of Blu-ray bonuses, the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows movie app works for both the iPad and Kindle Fire, and synchs with the Blu-ray of the film to provide hours of bonus features, including interviews, animatics, photos, video clips, history of the Sherlock Holmes world and interactive breakdowns for scenes.

In a rarity for a second-screen application like this, the app also works with electronic sellthrough versions of the film, available at such stores as iTunes, Vudu, CinemaNow, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Warner is working on making the free application — which can be used on its own without the film as well — compatible with the UltraViolet version of the movie. The movie app won’t work with rental discs of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, at least not those rental discs supplied directly by the studio.

To develop the application — designed with the help of Burbank-based 1K Studios, — Warner took a look at previous attempts to synch films with second-screen applications and found them wanting, Gaines said.

“What we found is there was a lot of disharmony between the Blu-ray and the second-screen application,” he said. “It gets a little frustrating and confusing.”

Enter the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows movie app, which focuses on making the second screen the more important of the two.

“We’re not enslaved to a run time, trying to play catch-up with the movie,” Gaines said.

The application dives deeply into bonuses that just wouldn’t fit “in a linear piece of content,” Gaines said. These include the history of Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and how he tried to kill off the character; breakdowns of key scenes step by step using scripts, photos, maps and more; the entire progress of every character put down on an interactive schematic of a train; and the camera placement of one scene shown from every perspective.

No Internet connection is required to enjoy the application, and videos can be played with the application without the Blu-ray playing.

“From a content creation perspective, this is an amazing playground,” said Gaines, who added that the application changes the way bonus features are conceived, with a lot more attention paid to eventual home entertainment releases during a film’s production.

He said Warner’s hope is to build upon the application should a third “Sherlock Holmes” film get the green light.

“We really wanted this application [to be] a rich and satisfying experience that you’ll want to come back to,” he said.

Also included with the Blu-ray is another of Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode offerings. Running longer than two hours, the Maximum Movie Mode has actor Robert Downey Jr. leading viewers through a more in-depth look at the film while it plays, stopping in during points of the movie to show off interviews, photo stills, stunts, storyboards and more.

The entire thrust behind this Maximum Movie Mode is to put viewers in the mind of Sherlock Holmes as much as possible.

“The beauty of this is we got Robert Downey Jr. involved,” said Donnie Roache, executive director of creative services for Warner Home Video. Downey does look like he’s having fun doing the feature, joking with the audience throughout: “Has it stopped raining yet? Are you bored? Let me help,” he says at one point.

The Maximum Movie Mode feature can be picked up where it was last left off, or it can be played from the beginning at any time. With so much to look at, it could take more than one session for a viewer to complete it, Roache said.

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