Consider this fact. Over 80% of people watching TV or movies at home do so while also surfing the Internet or using their smartphones. No one just sits and watches movies anymore. If I was a film-maker, I would be pissed. And I'd want to do whatever it took to capture my audience, keep them focused on the film — and perhaps motivate them to watch the movie over and over again, even if it meant indulging them in a little bit of touchscreen distraction.
While Blu-ray releases of older movies have loaded on the bonus features as separate viewing experiences, Technicolor just launched MediaEcho, a newer technology lets viewers see bonus material simultaneously on an iPad that is synchronized directly to a BD-Live equipped Blu-ray player to provide additional information that's timed perfectly with the movie. This app for both Apple and Android tablets - currently, iPhones don't have the screen capacity to handle the data.
The Weinstein Company will use MediaEcho along with the Blu-ray of The King's Speech to add historical footage, maps, additional commentary, crew info and more. BD-Live enables the use of two-way communication to send data between any Internet-connected Blu-ray player and a connected tablet. Taking the technology even further, Technicolor uses an audio watermark that sends an inaudible sound that's picked up by the tablet to synchronize the tablet to a broadcast or VoD performance.
Disney's used this Second Screen technology on their features including "Bambi" and Tron: Legacy, and it was also used recently on Sons of Anarchy to make it easy for viewers to purchase items seen onscreen immediately. Imagine what'll happen when QVC gets a hold of this technology. Hold onto your credit card.
Purists will argue that movies should just be enjoyed as they are. However, there are many times that this could really enhance the viewing experience.Let's say your girlfriend wants to watch a Blu-ray you've already seen. She can sit back and enjoy the movie unadulterated on the big screen. You can watch too, but you can follow along on your iPad watching the bonus material. After the movie, you can regale her with all the extra info you gleaned from the bonuses. In addition, many times you'll be watching the bonus features that will mention something in the main feature, so you have to scrounge around trying to figure out what they're talking about. Since this is synchronized to the actual footage, you'll be exactly where you need to be to see what's going on.
What do you think? Should movies be seen in their entirety, uninterrupted and viewers left undistracted? Or, since most people are going to be using their iPad during the movie anyway, why not at least enable them to learn more about the movie instead of letting them drift off to watch Sophia Grace Brownlee?
Leslie Shapiro has been an audio engineer for 25 years, with experience in television, film, and the music industry. She is also a member of NARAS, which gives her the coveted privilege of voting for the Grammy Awards.
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