Can’t remember the last time I actually watched the DVD extras/features. Neither can Khoi Vinh:
In an age where entertainment journalism is so popular and when everyone is interested in the backstory of practically every movie, regardless of how good the movie itself is, it’s interesting to me that extras can be regarded as so inessential. But they really are, and user experience designers across all media would do well to keep that in mind. Cherries don’t sell sundaes.
If the production team puts together a fantastic documentary, it can be a huge selling point for those interested in the film. When the original Star Wars trilogy arrived on DVD, there was a terrific fourth disc featuring the documentary, “Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy.” That was worth watching. So much so, they could have sold it as a separate product. And why not?
- Deleted scenes?
- Alternative director’s cuts?
- One-scene dissections?
- Alternate camera angles?
- Special games controlled through a DVD remote?
- Internet features?
I’m not entirely sure what other frills are included on Blu-ray discs and iTunes Extras these days, but most of these don’t seem necessary or beneficial to the sale of the product, and if you implement them like they were clumsily done on the DVD format, it’s hardly worth the extra fuss. The richest, easiest-to-activate feature to come out of the switch from VHS to digital is commentaries, which — granted — can provide a worthy addition to the film’s experience.
Netflix streaming provides a fantastic user experience because it does one thing well: stream a movie immediately to your display. No menus. No chapters. No extras. No bullshit. For those who want the joy of skipping all the junk found on commercial formats and feel the weight of torrent guilt, subscription film distribution is a solid solution. If Netflix doesn’t cut it, an increasingly interesting one is MUBI, which emerged from the ashes of the now defunct Auteurs subscription service and focuses almost exclusively on arthouse, foreign, and low-budget films (with a social layer on top).