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The HD format war is over – now what?

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The HD DVD and Blu-ray battle is over and Blu-ray has emerged victorious – it's the format that will be adopted going forward. The question on everyone's lips, however, is "now what?".

Says Nelmari Claassens, Sony Pictures marketing manager at SterKinekor Home Entertainment: "We will now see many more titles emerging in the Blu-ray format and competition between vendors/manufacturers is going to 'hot up'. I estimate that by the end of 2008, the sale of Blu-ray titles and players will significantly increase with general adoption happening in 2010. We have even seen reports of talks between Sony, Microsoft and Apple for the incorporation of Sony's Blu-ray technologies into Microsoft and Apple's hardware."
As general adoption hastens, the local market will see a decrease in pricing. This will be coupled with the entry new models or versions, and far more functionality and funky features.
We have seen the introduction of Picture-in-Picture (PiP), which allows the viewer to view a separate picture screen in the movie featuring running commentary about that particular scene, and Blu-Wizard 2.0 that allows for a 'customised' viewing experience such as creating playlists from special features, etc. However, the latest line-up of features also includes Blu-meter, Bookmarking and Indexing. In addition, an exciting new interactive feature, BDLive, will soon be available in South Africa.
Claassens explains: "Blu-meter and Bookmarking are now included with every Java-based BD title, while the Indexing feature will only be offered with selected titles.
"The Blu-meter feature acts as a visible timeline that allows viewers to see exactly where they are in the movie relative to the movie's overall length (much like an iPod displays a timeline for each song). The Blu-Meter is a handy reference tool for those keeping track of their place in the movie and is not possible on the DVD format.
"The Bookmarking feature works with Blu-Meter to allow viewers to select one or more of their favourite points in a film and save that timecode for future reference. The timecode can be saved without leaving the movie by pressing the green button on the remote. After that, the user can press the yellow button and access their bookmarked scenes, again without leaving the film.
"All of this can also be accessed from the main menu if a viewer starts the disc up again and wants to jump directly to their favourite part. The bookmarks can then be deleted by pressing the remote's red button, if so desired. The bookmarks are also clearly displayed in the Blu-Meter's timeline for easy access."
In addition, Indexing features a list of topics included in an index form on the main menu. These consist of relevant subjects from the movie. "For instance," explains Claassens, "with Memoirs of a Geisha (still to be released in South Africa on the Blu-ray format), such topics as 'Cherry Blossoms' and costume designer 'Colleen Atwood' are listed, allowing viewers to skip directly to those relevant points in either the movie or the special features. If 'Cherry Blossoms' were to be selected, there could also be a drop-down menu, indicating their appearance in the film in different contexts. From there, the viewer could select their specific choice of contexts, and the disc would automatically bring them to that point in the movie."
It must be noted that each of these elements are only possible on Java-enhanced Blu-ray titles.
BD Live, a newly developed Blu-ray feature that allows users to download a variety of content, including refreshed reviews, ring tones, exclusive special features, peer to peer interactions and events, to mention a few, will soon be available in South Africa. This feature allows users to access content via an Internet connected Blu-ray player. To do this, the Blu-ray player or PS3 must have an Ethernet port for Internet connectivity as featured with the latest Profile 2.0 BD players which will be available in South Africa towards the end of 2008. However, not all BD titles will feature the BD Live function.
The Blu-ray Disc versions of 'Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story' and 'The 6th Day' deliver BD Live features and both movies include exclusive downloadable theatrical and home video previews along with a FAQ about BD-Live functionality.
In addition to the wide range of content available on the Blu-ray Disc, 'Walk Hard' includes three mini featurettes that star Bill Hader as Derek Stone, a historian and expert 'Coxologist'.  These featurettes are only available via the BD-Live download.
Claassens adds: "We are truly excited about Sony's initial foray into BD-Live interactivity.  These releases offer entertainment enthusiasts just a glimpse of some of the remarkable new features that will soon be available on high definition Blu-ray Disc."
In addition to these current and upcoming exciting features, new Blu-ray titles are continuously being released. The Sony Pictures stable recently released 'Almost Famous', 'Gattaca' and 'Are we done yet?' in March this year. "The April line-up is just as exciting and we can expect 'Daddy Day Camp', 'Resident Evil: Extinction' and 'Superbad'. Fans of series will be pleased to know that season one of 'The Tudors' will be released soon too," notes Claassens.
SterKinekor Home Entertainment is further driving Blu-ray in the local market with its promotion of Sony Playstation 3 consoles that include a Blu-ray player. SterKinekor Home Entertainment is giving away a PS3 remote with every two Blu-ray titles purchased from the 1st of April to the 31st of May 2008.