The wild wild tech

By now, almost everyone has heard of Blu-Ray discs and their potential for higher quality movies at home. With the insane amount of space available on each Blu-Ray disc (up to fifty gigabytes), studios have increased the picture and sound quality of their releases. However, studios are not fully utilizing the ability that Blu-Ray discs have for enhancing the viewing experience.

Perhaps the most glaring omission on Blu-Ray releases have been the disappointing special features. While they are, for the most part, on par with DVD features and featurettes, this kind of space begs for much, much more. When customers buy a Blu-Ray release of a TV show or movie, it should be the definitive edition. All of the special features that were included on previous releases, and many that were not, should be included on the Blu-Ray release. There shouldn’t be any reason to track down older releases for content; the Blu-Ray release should have it all.

In addition, the Java abilities of the Blu-Ray platform are still being underutilized. Instead of adding games or new experiences, it seems as if most studios are simply ignoring the Java ability. With this simple bit of technology, studios have the ability to change the way we view movies.

In 2011, the entire Star Wars saga is coming to Blu-Ray. In a controversial move, the movies will only be released in the updated “Special Edition” cuts without the original theatrical cuts. This has been met by fan resistance, and with good reason. Those original cuts need to be preserved before they are lost forever. However, these releases are also offering newly restored, never-released footage, which has presented a conundrum for fans: to buy or not to buy?

Instead of forcing fans to choose, Lucasfilm should include both cuts of the films. As a special bonus, using the Blu-Ray Java platform, they should add a “make-your-own edit” feature, with the ability to create your own cut of the film. This would allow fans to edit, save, and share their cut of the film with other Star Wars fans. The website has already proven people’s interest in this, and Star Wars edits are by far the most popular. Since people are going to make fan edits anyway, Lucasfilm might as well find a way to make some money off of the phenomenon.

VHS brought the idea of the movie theatre to home. DVD attempted to replicate the experience of being at the theatre. Blu-Ray needs to go one step further and make people feel like they are on the set. If this generation has proven anything, it’s that people love to create and share. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and countless blog posts have shown that creativity and the desire to share can blossom in the right environment. Blu-Ray can be one of those environments, and the resulting profits could be monumental for the movie industry, but it will require traditional studios to think outside of the box.

Blu-Ray has the potential to be a game-changer for the entire industry, but studios need to be creative and take risks with the platform. If the industry just treats this like an increase in horsepower, they are missing the point. Blu-Ray technology is not just an increase in horsepower, it’s an entirely new vehicle; now the studios just need to provide the gas.