A Year Ago: Web-enabled DVD... it's coming

First published: Wed, 26 May 1999 14:52:59 GMT
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

Web-enabled DVD, tipped as the next major advance in the development of the high density storage format, was on show at the first European DVD production conference in London on Monday.

In its simplest form, say, a movie with Internet links to associated merchandise/information on the Web or HTML links to high quality audio or video clips embedded on disc. The really cool applications will be Websites that require DVD to activate content. Already available in the US, TV shows like 'Drive On' from Warner Bros. employ DVD to unlock extra episodes and content by downloading 'encryption keys' from the Web.

"DVD is the perfect medium for massive amounts of data but the Web is useful to update that data," explains Samantha Harvey creative director of authoring house Abbey Road Studios. Using HTML , producers can hide links to TV programmes or unseen footage on a DVD which can only be accessed when the owner registers online and receives a key.

The big studios are already getting behind the idea of Internet friendly DVD: Warner Bros' first high profile Web-enabled DVD is You've Got Mail, currently only available in the US. Users with DVD-ROM can access You've Got Mail fans online with one click from the film. The You've Got Mail Web site has been enhanced with extra material and video and is included on the DVD.

Extras include letters between the main characters played by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, video interviews with cast members and a tour of New York's Upper West Side.

Other PC friendly disks available in America include episodes of BayWatch, the films Ronin and Mars Navigator and Microsoft's Encarta '99. Universal is to ship Web-enabled DVD "soon" and Bertelsman Media Group will have a Web-friendly audio DVD available in the autumn.

Jim Taylor, Microsoft's DVD evangelist believes Web-friendly DVD will help realise the vision of the PC as true multimedia platform and predicts customers will eventually come to expect it on all DVDs as standard.

Consumer benefits are obvious according to Robin Wilson, general manager for DVD products at BMG. "It is an excellent way for consumers to get more information about their favourite films," he said.

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