Posted at 7:09 PM on July 9, 2008
by Euan Kerr
I saw something pretty spectacular today: the 50th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" due to be released in October.
It's spectacular because it's been restored to it's original Super Technirama 70 widescreen format, which has not been seen since it's original theatrical run in the 1950's. It also has a remastered soundtrack, made using the original recordings which were found in a vault in Berlin.
What is also pretty interesting is the way that Disney is using the interactivity afforded by Blu-ray. Disney is using the disc to launch it's BD live network, which, after a little registration procedure, allows viewers to send messages to other people watching the film at the same time. It actually allows you to synch your viewing with someone else's machine, so you can watch together in real time even if you are on the other side of the country.
Not only does the network allow you to on-line chat using a keyboard, your cell phone, or even your remote during the film, people can make short videos and embed them in scenes in the film, so they will pop up as someone watched. (They can also be disabled. And Disney will have staff vetting the messages before they are embedded to make sure they are actually family friendly. That could be an intriguing job.)
There is also a movie quiz which you can play by yourself, or against other people watching the movie elsewhere. And of course there are games, and trailers for upcoming films
The Disney folk pitch the idea as 'keeping the front room relevant." The technology allows Disney to change the content of the disk, updating the trailers for example.
All future Disney discs will have similar features, and each one will expand the interactivity afforded by the network.
So what does this all mean? I see a real generation gap coming. The new technology encourages in the living room all the things many of us have been trying to discourage in movie theaters, specifically texting and shouting out answers to trivia questions. Is this the end of the cinema experience as we know it? Or just the latest change?
It's pretty darn cool, but it also makes me feel just a little older.