Denver — Companies with interest in the burgeoning Blu-ray Disc industry travel to this week’s CEDIA Expo to promote the newest facet of the format — interactivity.
Zane Vella, president of the Related Content Data Base (RCDb), one of the developing companies of the interactive application framework for Blu-ray known as BD-Live, said his firm in conjunction with Sun Microsystems will soon launch the consumer portion of a new Web site called www.bdlive.com.
Vella called the Web site an effort to provide a Web destination where consumers can "go deeper inside BD-Live titles."
It will serve as a promotional vehicle for participating studios’ BD-Live efforts and will provide information to educate consumers "about what BD-Live is and all the different things it can be," Vella said.
"What we are trying to do is help solve the ‘blind-man-elephant-problem,’" he explained. "Right now everyone is reaching at this thing, and the part they can immediately feel is how they define what it is is. We are at the point where this is just getting started, and we need to show how BD-Live can be so many different things."
The site will offer examples of the many different approaches to adding BD-Live functionality available on Blu-ray movie titles today. Vella said the goal is to maintain a complete, continuously updated database of every BD-Live enabled title with a listing of what each title features, including changes and updates that will be made online as studios add or alter their offerings.
Visitors to the site will be encouraged to start a BD-Live account that will enable them to "voluntarily register a set of BD-Live titles that they want to track," Vella said.
The process will help visitors keep track of their BD-Live movies, both through the site and via email alerts, so they are informed when new content and features have been added.
"It’s a tough problem for the studios because they don’t want to have to tell the consumer to keep taking the disc out of the box and trying it. That’s a bit clunky," Vella said.
He said the site will also add an online community element, allowing visitors to establish a list of BD-Live friends and groups for their titles. Visitors can sign up voluntarily to find people to play games with or chat with online. The registration information will be available for a studio’s disc to access, eliminating the need to re-create a list of friends every time a disc is played.
"In the future some studios may choose to do something like this that is studio-specific," Vella said. "We are trying to encourage studios, developers and the industry to do things in a collaborative way that we think will result in a better end-user experience."
Vella said www.bdlive.com will be a complementary effort to the Blu-ray Disc Association’s promotion site.
Initially the site will promote titles from BD-Live participating studios including: Disney, Paramount, Lionsgate and Fox with others coming as new BD-Live titles arrive.
The site will also be used to inform consumers about available hardware and software-based BD-Live capable players. Sony, Panasonic, Arcsoft and Corel have so far signed on to participate.
Vella said the software and hardware promotion generated by the site will be available at no cost to manufacturers and studios.
"This is really about trying to help deliver a message about all the things BD-Live can be before it gets too confusing," Vella told TWICE. In addition to participating in the design of the BD-Live platform, RCDb also produces BD-Live content and features for studios to add to their discs. Several studios will soon announce Blu-ray Disc movies featuring RCDb-authored features.
End-user studies are and will continue to be key tools in helping RCDb and others determine the best uses for the interactive system. RCDb has been closely studying feedback on programs it is developing, Vella said, although he added, "I don’t think we’ve seen the killer app yet. But I do think the technologies and tools are starting to get to the point where creative people can experiment with them, and that will lead to the killer app."
Of the handful of BD-Live titles that have been announced to date, Vella listed Disney’s "Snow White" as among the most compelling in its use of the technology. Among other things, that title will enable users to synch the playback a movie remotely with another player using a broadband connection. Viewers on both ends can chat during the film as if they were all watching together in the same room.