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New Interactive Video Disc Lets Viewers Run the Show

August 11, 1990| Distributed by AP Newsfeatures

The future is here. It's called interactive video, and it's an innovative application of laser-disc technology that allows viewers to get inside films, art and news events as never before.

According to the current issue of Video Magazine, this video innovation may mean an end to people passively absorbing programming.

Interactivity means that viewers have choices--they can continue watching what passes before them or they can leave the narration and delve into material that interests them. This is possible on laser discs because they offer access to each frame of video, which makes it easy to move to any point on the disc.

For example, a disc that catalogues the works of a famous painter presents the works one by one. But at the touch of a button, the viewer can call up additional information about the painting, the artist's life or his work.

Many of the laserdiscs from Voyager Co., a Santa Monica firm, feature commentary from filmmakers and film historians on one of the extra audio channels and multimedia essays that blend still pictures and text with full-motion video.

Voyager has many titles in its collection, from "Lawrence of Arabia" to "Blade Runner," and is planning upcoming releases such as "Raging Bull" and "The Last Picture Show." Other discs explore news events, such as last year's San Francisco earthquake, and academic subjects, including biology.

The company also blends education and entertainment in its new compact disc Companion series, which run on Macintosh computers. The first of these was the "Beethoven Symphony No. 9 CD Companion," a five-part exploration of the composer's masterpiece. It includes insights into the composer's world, a tutorial on the building blocks of music and commentary on the symphony.

Other companies, such as Warner News Media and ABC News Interactive, are contributing to the field of interactive video.

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