BD-Java: The Software Behind Blu-ray
Pirates of the Caribbean BD-Java game, Liar’s Dice.
Here's a look at the technology behind Blu-ray and all the fun that comes along with it.
Just as few of us ponder exactly how our car’s internal combustion engine works, so too have DVDs spoiled us into forgetting just how much technology there is working behind the scenes. This is more true of high-definition discs, because the technology isn’t just about better resolution and sound, but about new ways to access and control content.
And when it comes to Blu-ray disc, that means BD-Java, a software platform which provides content developers with a greater level of flexibility for creating and experimenting with new features, many of which were not envisioned when the format was being developed.
Sven Davison, VP, Worldwide DVD Product Development, for Fox Studios lists five reasons why Java was chosen as the basis for the Blu-ray platform:
- Flexibility - it’s not constrained to a single platform.
- It’s an open technology.
- It’s proven to work in the Consumer Electronics environment (more than two billion cell phones worldwide ship with Java).
- Maturity. It’s been around for over ten years.
- The robust security framework allowing studios to limit how the disc accesses the network or local storage and to what extent (important for protecting consumers).
BD-Java provides an opportunity to radically change and constantly evolve disc exploration (menu) experiences, says a spokesperson for Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. For example, a multi-disc experience can be created to keep users engaged in an episodic world. Disney just introduced this capability through a feature called SeasonPlay on the BD release of the TV series “Lost: Season 3.” SeasonPlay allows the player to keep track of the user experience as the season progresses; providing information as to which disc should be inserted to continue viewing the season in sequence, and automatically continuing the season from exactly where users left off when returning to it later. As explained by Disney, this is essentially the technological evolution of the ‘Play All’ button on DVD, with the beauty being that it provides users with information even when a disc is not inserted into the player, and keeps them engaged and informed throughout the viewing session.
BD-Java is already making its impact felt on popular titles. Take the “Find-the-Car” game in “Cars” which lets you search for cars during the movie and save the results to view at another time. There’s also the Jolly Roger host in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” who navigates users through animated menus with state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, and Gusteau’s Gourmet Game from “Ratatouille” which is a highly interactive fast paced feature which puts you in the kitchen as the new chef. Examples from Fox includes Trivia games (“Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer”), pop-up Maps (“Master and Commander), and an arcade-style game found on “Live Free or Die Hard.” Davidson says that DVD set top games were clunky and did not have fluid graphics. “Now we can utilize fluid graphics within the bounds of the film,” he says. There’s also picture-in-picture capabilities - such as BonusView found in the upcoming “Sunshine.” While picture-in-picture on DVD was created using seamless branching, now there can be two separate video streams married within the player, allowing for an independent stream that can last as long as the film.
The next “big” thing is something that will bring Blu-ray on par with a feature found on HD DVD: web interactivity. As BD-Live debuts in 2008, you’ll be able to access a network, the Internet and enable web-related features. (Lionsgate announced they will be the first to bring this to market in the early part of the year.) Through the use of BD-Live, in conjunction with BD-Java, such things as online community features, e-commerce, film clubs, movie events, multi-player games as well as access to studio and user-generated content will become possible.
Disney says that BD-Java provides incredible opportunities for enhancement and further innovation in both disc viewing experiences and bonus content. Fox’s Davidson also sees there being a great level of flexibility to BD-Java that will enable Blu-ray content features to grow over the next several years, with many new features that have not been imagined yet. “Fox is focused on expanding the user interface to provide new and compelling experiences where the consumer will interact with a movie to a much larger extent than is seen on any other format today,” Davidson says. “BD-Java will allow Fox to bring this vision to reality.”
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