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Blu-Ray Q&A Brain Dump

Posted by editor on May 11, 2007 at 7:46 AM PDT

I'll have an opinionated blog later, but here's my notes from the Blu-Ray Q&A BOF. Missing is my question/comment at the end, which I'll blog later.


Talk to the Stars: A Discussion of Blu-Ray Java Technology

  • Phil Starner, Javelin Software (blond, glasses)
  • Mike Zink, Technicolor (red shirt, black jacket)
  • Kyle Prestinbock, Disney
  • Bill Foote, Sun (session lead)

[note to self: remember comments about compatibility problems from morning keynote]

First question: there's a real discrepency between timeline tool based thinking (Final Cut, Flash) versus programming (Java). Zink: for 70-80% of these titles, something timeline-based would be plenty.

Bill: Sun's future plans in this space. Did everyone see JavaFX thing in the keynote? It's a scripting environment that is intellectually rigorous. Predicts dooms of ECMAScript and personal-basis Java. Claims ScriptFX will solve the same problems as Flash, but speaks to a low-level spec that can be standardized and "gotten right". By comparison, HD-DVD builds all their effects into the low level, so if they miss something good, they can't add it back later. BD-J puts runtime on the disc, so it can be fixed later. Bill tells Kyle that having Java developers developing titles is crazy; need to get designers into the loop.

Bill: we expect tools to be created. Once those are out there, we can set up authors/designers with those tools. BD-J as a whole is much larger than that. With DVD, we ran out of new innovative things to do after about three years.

Audience member: BD-J doesn't exist in a vacuum. Consumers are blaming BD-J complexity for lack of titles. Yes, you're future proofing, but we've got a timeline here, and Blu-Ray needs to get its act together. Sun is saying "we've got JavaFX", but Sun can't just throw a switch and suddenly everything's fine.

Audience member 2: OK, how do I learn BD-J now if I don't work at a studio that has paid the license. I want to just download some Eclipse plugins.

Mike: What we're doing in large scale production is different from what a developer would do at home. We use authoring tools to do the multiplexing, Java's just an application on top that does the underlying interactivity. Blu-Print, Scenarist. Both have some kind of Java implementation, but they're both high-level solutions. To just do Java development without worrying about the video, check out the "HD production handbook", and upcoming "HD production cookbook" (sked'ed for September). Bill: answer right now is "some assembly required". To do it professionally, you need players with debuggers. Kyle: some authoring tools have emulators. We've found that developers who develop with MHP tools can be ported to Blu-Ray in about a week, so go the MHP route, use the community and the tools. It'll be easier to switch to Blu-Ray when those evolve to Blu-Ray tools. Bill: check out hdcookbook.com, join the forums, check out the BD-J discussions. It'll be good to see what people can do at different levels of spending. The guy who did "Dragon's Lair" took some discs, looked at what was in there, decompiled... didn't work with an authoring tool.

Audience 2: If Sony & Sun want BD-J to win, why don't they get SDK's and tools out there? Bill: Blu-Ray Disc Association, and their 19 companies, don't want it to happen. Sun comes from a "give tools to people" mindset. It's $100,000 to just buy the specs for Blu-Ray, a very different culture. Lots of stakeholders, coming from a different industry. It's not like the computer industry. Phil: if these tools were available, it would definitely help Blu-Ray. That kind of stuff is available for HD-DVD, and it helps them. Mike: remember that Blu-Ray is pretty complex, and it takes a lot of time to develop these tools. Nothing out there where you could throw it to the masses and make everyone happy. Throwing full-blown Flash-like tools out there doesn't make sense for the system. Microsoft-like approach is more appropriate: give people some docs, let them do it. Bill: we're not actively trying to deny people information, we need more time. Everyone agrees that this needs to happen, get some agreement on when.

Audience 3: I'm tired of writing EJB's. Sounds like Microsoft has the path of least resistance for developers right now. In enterprise, we have tons of information, free tools, etc. At what point in the future, do we get some docs and tools. Do the studios want many developers, or just a few people at a few studios. Bill: studio hopes that we can create as many Blu-Ray titles as DVD. Audience 3: Does HD-DVD make it easier to get started? Are Java developers at a disadvantage because they're waiting for the BDA to get its act together? Bill: we work with other vendors; startups help us with this. Some developers come to us with just some ME experience.

CD's of Blu-Ray SDK's (Sequence) somewhere in this room? No, just the Fox contest that's Windows-only (speeeeeewww...)

Audience 4: I'm from a company that makes a BD-J tool, and if you're interested in this kind of thing, there are a lot of opportunities. Not as a stay at home developer, but with companies. Lot of positions out there.

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