Finally, I think we've found a use for BD-Live that won't just fade away like a stupid quiz or a georestricted, one-time-only commentary from the film's director. 20th Century Fox have announced that anyone who owns the vanilla version of Avatar on Blu-ray will get access to some of the exclusive material being released with the extended edition of the film hitting stores on November 24. For free.
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This bit of Blu-Ray news was left suspiciously out of Sony's CES keynotes and big reveals, which doesn't bode well... but anyway. Now it's out: The BD Live feature MovieIQ Sync debuted with Michael Jackson's This Is It. Woo?
So there have been quite a few of these Blu-ray community screenings over the past year or so, but they've all been restricted to viewers in the US. The latest Harry Potter flick however, the Half Blood Prince, is having a community screening that's global. That means you can actually take part, and chat with both Daniel Radcliffe and director David Yates while you watch the movie (or something like that anyway).
Truth be told, we didn't expect that the BD-Live screening of Watchmen hosted by director Zack Snyder would ever make it here to Australia. But we've had confirmation from Paramount that we definitely won't get to sit back and chat with Snyder during the community screening US owners of the Blu-ray will experience.
Warner Bros is super, super smart about marketing their Blu-ray discs. First they had Christopher Nolan host a community screening for The Dark Knight. Now director Zack Snyder will do the same for Watchmen.
In the 12 months since Blu-ray emerged victorious over HD DVD in the battle for high-definition format supremacy, BD-Live has gone from having huge potential as a key sales and marketing feature to becoming a footnote on the spine of a handful of Blu-ray movies. And despite the fact that some studios like Disney are actively pursuing the technology, its implementation still feels like a random collection of ideas that lacks cohesion and focus. And sadly, it doesn't really look like things are going to change any time soon.
Chris Nolan just hosted the live, on-demand substitute for a Dark Knight commentary track last night. So why was I left unsatisfied after squinting at my TV for two and a half hours?
The latest version of the people's Blu-ray ripper, Blu-ray Disc Ripper 1.4, is the first to support BD-Live titles. BD Ripper 1.4 now grabs the AACS folder, which might be needed for BD-Live flicks to decrypt downloaded content. That means it in effect copies the BD-Live extended content, bringing us one step closer to running downloadable BD-Live goodies on a ripped disc. You still need an AACS key to make the magic happen, but those are easy enough to find. What was that about 10 years, blah blah Blu-ray blah blah unbeatable blah blah?
It must be Australian Blu-ray day or something. After finding out about Samsung's free Blu-ray player promotion and LG launching their BD300 in Australia, Panasonic has decided to join the BD Profile 2.0 bandwagon and release the DMP-BD35 in Australia just in time for Christmas.
Along with all the standard Profile 2.0 features (BD-Live, HD audio decoding, PIP), it also offers some pretty sweet benefits to owners of their PZ850 series plasmas (like me). There's x.v. color and Deep Colour for more realistic colour reproduction, and PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus, which reproduces the colours as close to the original film as possible. There's also 24Hz mode (granted, you don't need a Panny plasma for this one) and support for 7.1-channel audio, even if your system doesn't decode all eight channels.
If that sounds like it might entice you, then you can pick up the DMP-BD35 for $495 RRP, or cheaper in the shops.
A few days ago, I mentioned that the only new special feature on the forthcoming This Is Spinal Tap Blu-ray would be a crazy game that threatens to put Rock Band to shame. It's just a BD-Java game, so there's no real chance of that, but we did get pictures that show it's at least bound to be fun for 15 minutes. Only thing, judging from the pic above and the second shot down after the jump, it looks a little like it could just as easily be the BD-Live game for Village People: Can't Stop the Music.