Yesterday I was cordially invited to a demonstration of Disney's new BD Live features, which will be launched with the Blu-Ray release of the Sleeping Beauty 50th Anniversary Edition disc. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, as we weren't told much prior to the event, but by the time I left the Ebell Club in Los Angeles, I was convinced that Disney is, once again, on the cutting edge of entertainment technology.
Myself and other press members were ushered into a lavish room, with the entrance decorated in Sleeping Beauty decor and we were shown a brief video on a gorgeous 103-inch HD plasma TV, which displayed the historical firsts that Disney has brought us over the years. After that we were given a brief explanation about what these features can do and then we could try them out for ourselves.
There are four main components of this BD Live network: Movie Mail, Movie Chat, Movie Challenge and Movie Rewards. Before I go on, however, it must be noted that these four features will be enabled only with BD Live (or Profile 2.0) compatible Blu-Ray players. We were shown the Mail first and it's really quite impressive. This feature enables users with any sort of video capture device (videophone, webcam, digital camcorder, etc.) to record a video and then upload the video to DisneyBluRay.com (Note: they did say that this may not be the actual URL used for all these features, but that was not determined yet). Then you can select a scene and send the video to a Blu-Ray player that is connected to the network.
Then, when the recipient pops in the disc and gets to that scene, a small screen pops up with the video message. They demonstrated this for us by taking a volunteer to make a small video with. Once the video was done it only took a few minutes for the video to be cued up to the scene they wanted and uploaded to the website and we watched that scene and saw the video we just saw shot appear on the screen. It really is quite an innnovative feature and it seemed like they were trying to aim this feature at people on the go that can stay connected with their families.
The next thing we saw was Movie Chat. They had several stations with high-def TV's, Blu-Ray players and the movie playing. A chat window was brought up and we could send messages back and forth to the other stations while the movie was playing. You can either have a small chat window displayed on a corner of the screen, or you can toggle the view to have a bigger chat space and smaller movie space. Of course, this feature can work with any two BD Live Blu-Ray players anywhere in the world. You can either chat using your remote control and a small keyboard or you can also send messages to the chat via any web-enabled device. Once that device is logged onto the DisneyBluRay.com site, you can send messages to the chat from a laptop, cell phone, Blackberry or any other device that can connect to the Internet. Amazing.
Next up is the Movie Challenge and, sadly, as cool as this feature is, it just proved how long it had been since I had seen this movie. I played the game against two other players and lost handily. I wasn't sure how difficult these questions would be, but let me assure you, these aren't cupcake questions they throw at you. The trivia game appears at the bottom of the screen and you can see how the other players opposing you are doing as well. There are more than 200 questions for this particular Sleeping Beauty disc loaded in and 15 of them are randomly chosen per round. If you don't have friend to play with, you can start a new game or jump into other games that people have started. They said this feature will eventually be able to handle up to 1,000 players on a single game at a time. The questions were no cake-walk, but I thought this was yet another wonderful feature for Blu-Ray.
The last of these BD Live features are Movie Rewards and it brings all of these other features together. When you participate in any of the above BD Live features, you earn reward points each time, and Movie Rewards is how you redeem them. You can get extras like exclusive interviews with cast and/or crew members, wallpapers, ringtones, avatars and even some exclusive sneak peeks at other upcoming Disney ventures, like the new Disney DVD, Tinker Bell and, I'm sure, much much more. So, in essence, the more you partake in these amazing activities, the more you get back.
I have to say, I'm quite impressed with Disney's new BD Live Network. These features make the best use of state-of-the-art technology and implement them into the home entertainment forum like nothing I've ever seen before. It was said at the demo that they were looking into implementing these amazing features into the forthcoming releases of the fan favorites High School Musical 3: Senior Year, which comes to theaters on October 24 (no DVD/Blu-Ray release is set) and Lost: The Complete Fourth Season, which will be released on December 9.
If those features do get implemented into those immensely popular discs, there's no telling how successful they'd be. Disney is surely on the cutting edge of the Blu-Ray game and I'm glad I got to see it for myself and share it with you. It's only a matter of time before you'll get to see for yourself. Peace in. Gallagher out!