Back in December Warner Bros. created a moment in home cinema history as they offered the first ever community screening of a film for 100,000 people who never had to leave home to participate. The Dark Knight Blu-ray was the first to emphasize the opportunities inherent within the concept of the BD-Live software as director Christopher Nolan (make that 100,001 people) answered live questions from participants onscreen via a text dialogue box during the screening. Unfortunately, due to a technical glitch on my end, I was unable to partake in said event. However, last night (July 25th, 2009) provided me another opportunity as Zack Snyder participated in a community screening of his recently released Watchmen: Director’s Cut Blu-ray. And this time, I was able to check it out… for a little bit.
Due to a prior engagement I was only able to catch the last 30 minutes of the Watchmen community screening event. However, it was quite an intriguing experience. From what I have read on other forums, the beginning of the presentation was sketchy as moderation of the submitted questions seemed to be letting all sorts of ridiculous inquiries through. This occurred throughout The Dark Knight event completely unchecked. However, from what I saw in the last 30 minutes of the Watchmen community screening, there was only one silly question that didn’t need to be asked as the answer was VERY obvious. So, the quality of content had been improved drastically over the first ever screening of this kind.
Making the scenario even more interesting was the fact that not only was Snyder answering questions from people at home. He was taking part in this event live from Comic Con 2009 where there was a live audience of approximately 500 people listening to his responses in person. They were also encouraged to ask questions as well.
But, the ultimate question still lingers unanswered. Was the experience worth my time? To be honest, I wish I could have been there from the very start. In the 30 minutes that I did get to see, I learned 4 or 5 interesting details about the film which I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Also, it’s great to have the interactive aspect of a director’s “commentary,” for lack of a better term. There were many moments where Snyder was able to “work his audience.” What would I have improved upon for future events of this sort? Only two things come to mind. First is the placement of the scrolling text. At the top of the screen in a transparent white box makes the chat seem like a bit of a distraction. I would like to see them place the dialogue box scrolling the left or right side of the screen. That way, fast moving text also wouldn’t disappear before it can be read. It would have more screen time as it would have to scroll the entire screen. Secondly, the moderation of the questions still needs improvement. Perhaps the moderator should be someone with extensive knowledge on the subject of the particular film and source material. This would ensure that appropriately designed questions make it to the director instead of BS fodder.
Overall, I’m looking forward to what the future holds for this type of event. Hopefully someday it will become an audio/video based presentation where a live stream can be fed to all viewers. However, as it stands, the concept of a director involved interactively with his/her audience during a screening of his/her film is an amazing improvement to the home cinema experience that I will always be part of if possible.