One of the seminal DVD producers (you can see his work on every “Star Wars” disc release, for example), Van Ling is quickly gaining a rep in Blu-ray for innovative features that borrow from videogames and the Internet.
For his first major BD release, Fox’s “Independence Day,” Ling introduced a new level of interactivity with the “Alien Scavenger Hunt” game and a keyword search function.
On the scavenger hunt, viewers search for items such as the Hollywood Sign or Richard Nixon’s signature while watching the film. At the start of the movie, players are shown 12 randomly chosen items to click on when they appear onscreen using their remotes. If they find all 12, they unlock a bonus video.
The keyword search function on the disc menu allows viewers to search scenes. For example, if a user inputs “Will Smith,” it pulls up a list of scenes with the actor.
Ling believes interactive features are what will convince consumers to switch to Blu-ray. But those features need to relate to the movie, he says. For that reason, he’s not a big believer in adding social networking features to Blu-ray, which would allow users to connect with friends online or share videos through their set-top players.
POV: “What I think you have to do with the format is harness the unique capabilities of studio assets, meaning content,” he says. “What we can do with Blu-ray is bring the focus back on high-end professional content.”