Movie Fanatic headed to Burbank and Warner Bros. Home Video headquarters for an exclusive presentation for The Dark Knight Rises Blu-Ray and its astounding second-screen app as the film lands on home video today!
We met Jonathan Gaines, executive director of special features for Warner Bros. and executive director of creative services, Donnie Roache, who both took us behind the magic. Considering this is the final chapter of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight series, the team here at Warner Bros. has outdone themselves with their latest Blu-Ray.
The second screen app is available on iTunes and once it’s downloaded and your Blu-Ray is synched to your second screen device, whether it iPad, iPhone, tablet or Android based smart phone, The Dark Knight Rises movie experience takes on several new dimensions. “It works nicely on an iPad because of the hi-res photos,” Gaines admitted as he showed off the hi-res images of Bane that are mind-blowing.
Gaines then introduced us to the index to all the content that is in the app, even a few that are exclusive only to the app. The timeline bar on the second screen keeps your interactive experience congruent as the main screen tells Nolan’s story in full. “As the movie progresses, so too does the timeline,” Gaines said. “Photos, trivia, video, profiles… and it automatically keeps updating as the movie progresses.”
Since we marveled at the photo of Tom Hardy as Bane, Gaines and Roache are delighted with the main screen first appearance of our Dark Knight Rises bad guy. The legendary opening of the movie sequence with Bane escaping a high-in-the-air aircraft, gives an example of the multitude of depths one can go into the filming of that scene and much more. First, we visit the Bane main page.
“It has a lot more information regarding this character. For example, there are much more than high-res images galleries,” Roache said. There are production galleries as well as pre-production galleries too. “It also shows you how all the content is related to the character,” Roache said. “For example, if I want to know more about Bane’s lair, I can go right there.”
Boom, we’re in Bane’s lair!
“This is truly secret content,” Gaines exclusively admitted. “By just owning the Blu-Ray you won’t get to this. Just owning the app, you won’t get to this. When you synch the two together, that’s when the whole process goes to a whole new level of interactivity.”
One of the most striking aspects of the app and Blu-Ray synching is the storyboards that one can view on your device while simultaneously watching the scene that was storyboarded as it plays out. “It’s really cool to see that storyboard synched to the scene you’re witnessing,” Roache said.
For example, in the airplane scene at the beginning of the movie we just mentioned, we stepped away from the film and what was revealed was a video featurette of director Nolan talking about pushing the envelope by using real locales and shying away from green screen for certain sequences. It gives us that breathtaking aerial scene.
“People think it was done with a lot of visual effects,” Nolan said. “But much more than people realize, it was done for real.”
One of the impressive aspects of the second screen app for this longtime fan was the link and connection to DC Comics. “They are a tremendous resource,” Gaines said. “We go back to DC a lot for information. We have a strong relationship with DC, they are always happy to help us with any DC property that we work on.”
Roache and Gaines stress that the app allows the audience member to go as deep or shallow into the experience as one chooses. “You’ve got the flexibility to digest this content in synch mode or with a free-form at your leisure opportunities,” Roache said.
“The beauty of this is that for people who want to go really deep, they can,” Gaines added. “People can also prop it up on their coffee table and let it flow by -- it doesn’t have to be cumbersome.”
To accomplish their extraordinary feat of home video excellence, Gaines and Roache’s team got involved with Nolan and his team from the initial planning process for the theatrical release. “We start on the special features side as the movie is going into production. We’ll read the script. We’ll talk to the filmmakers about what’s exciting and what should be highlighted and covered. And as the movie is progressing and we can finally see it, we can hone our concepts,” Roache said.
"On the app front we start initial concepts and designs probably at least eight months before the movie opened in theaters.”
They work cohesively with both the director Nolan and his screenwriter brother Jonathan. “We work very closely with the Nolans on this. They are very involved in everything you see here,” Roache said.
Even though they begin their process as the film swings into production, the duo admit there is never enough time. It just proves that there are boundless things Blu-Ray aficionados can expect as time progresses and technology grows. But they stress that they will only provide material for bonus features and future second screen apps if they fit the story and standout as enhancing the movie experience.
“We look for stuff that will be of interest to the casual consumer and fan, but also go through the material based on the other criteria for those that are hardcore fans. There is a constant dialogue with the filmmakers about what they want to share,” Roache said. “It’s important for us that the content has a unique point of view. In these apps we always look for content that will work well within this platform of the touch environment. Images work well, and on Blu-Rays, it has become pretty static and flat. Now images come to life in a whole new fresh way."