Sony Ushers in New Era of Blu-ray

Sony gave the press and dealers a peek into the interactive features of next-gen Blu-ray Disc players this week at its Open House in Las Vegas.

Don Eklund, executive vp of advanced technologies for Sony Pictures, was on hand to wax on the possibilities of Bonus View (Profile 1.1). The picture-in-picture function included on select Blu-ray Discs is playable on compatible machines packing dual audio and video decoders. The demo featured commentary by actress Milla Jojovich on Resident Evil: Distinction, showing how users can switch between the audio of the movie and the commentary of the inset without leaving the movie.


Also on display was a mockup of BD Live (Profile 2.0), which is set to debut this spring. BD Live titles from Sony Pictures will join discs from Lion's Gate currently on the market, but Eklund declined to detail names. The Open House BD Live mockup of Men in Black showed an onboard trivia game that users can play alone or with other players via the Net.

Eklund stressed that the game functionality of BD-Live will be limited since the processing power of a standard Blu-ray player is "pedestrian" compared with the muscle of a PlayStation 3. But, he added, "that doesn't mean we can't entertain people."

BD Live will also enable users to download content related to a movie that wasn't available when the disc was pressed. You can expect to see updated trailers as studios take advantage of the feature to push their latest films. Eklund also sees BD Live as a means to one-to-one focus groups. "We're constantly looking for ways to adjust content to the tastes of consumers," he said. "We never really knew what people thought before, but with network-enabled BD Live, we'll have lots of opportunities to learn what we can only guess at now."--Rebecca Day