Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Bambi's Second Screen: Amazing, Engaging and Fun

As each new Blu-Ray upgrade of a Disney animated classic is released, it seems there is less and less to say beyond a cursory evaluation of any new supplemental material not included on previous DVD editions.  Such was the expectation with Bambi, the latest in the Diamond Edition series.  But with this particular release, Disney has thrown a curve ball game-changer, a WOW! inspiring next step in home entertainment that is especially compatible with a film such as Bambi, and classic Disney animation in general.  Disney Second Screen is nothing short of amazing and it is indeed the "groundbreaking experience" that Disney's own publicity material proclaims.

Second Screen is exactly that, an additional interactive platform that provides supplemental content that is synchronized to the actual presentation of the film.  Two such platforms are currently available, either an Apple iPad or a laptop computer.  Second Screen comes to the iPad by way of a free application downloaded via the App Store.  For the Mac or PC, it is a Flash-based interface streamed through Disney's web site.  While the PC version works well, one has to feel that Second Screen was designed very specifically with the iPad in mind; it takes full advantage of the portability of that device and its exceptionally responsive capacitive touch interface.  Navigating it with a mouse or touchpad feels distinctly clunky in comparison.  Another advantage to the iPad version is that, once downloaded, the Second Screen content does not require an Internet connection to operate.

For Bambi, the Second Screen content is primarily a wealth of production artwork, interspersed with archival photos, anecdotal snippets of text and trivia and a few vintage film clips that take you inside the Disney Studio during those early years of production.  The presentation is a near perfect fit for animation.  The interface is easy and intuitive.  Original storyboards can be experienced effortlessly through the iPad's touch/swipe interface and the Flipbook feature is a particular delight.  Dragging the flipbook button back and forth  literally recreates the original test animation, much like a moviola.  A simple toggle lets you compare the original animation to the finished film sequence.  And although the experience is very much tailored to the animation enthusiast, Second Screen does include a number of kid-friendly features and activities that are well integrated, yet easily avoided if so desired.

Second Screen is indeed a major leap forward for supplemental features.  As much as I always value the gallery content Disney includes in the majority of their animated film DVDs, those galleries have always been largely user-unfriendly and typically slow and clumsy when navigating via a remote control.  As noted, the iPad interface is especially fast and seamless.  An added bonus is that the content can be accessed with or without synchronization to the film.

As to the Bambi disc itself, the high definition presentation serves the film well; picture and sound are top drawer and a pleasure to behold.  Beyond the Second Screen feature, there is little new in the way of special features that have not already been included on the previous Platinum Edition.  There is an "enhanced edition" of the Inside Walt's Story Meetings from the prior set, two additional deleted scenes, a rendition of the deleted song "Twitterpated" and the family-friendly Disney's Big Book of Knowledge: Bambi Edition.  Not migrated from the Platinum Edition were Disney Time Capsule: 1942 and a feature on the first DVD restoration process.

As always, a high definition version of a Disney animated classic is a welcome addition to a home entertainment library.  The Disney Second Screen proves to be very enticing and delicious icing on the cake.  If you are an iPad owner, it is an especially fortuitous and engaging experience.


drew said...

Sounds cool, I just hope that Disney begins supporting other mobile OSs. Of course I guess Android and webOS 2.x (what I selfishly want Disney to support) users would be able to just use the Flash based web version.