by Paul Sanders
Blu-ray movies deliver amazing sound and picture quality, but a great picture is only as good as the amount of watchable content you have. That's why the extra content and special features in boxed sets make them worthwhile; sometimes they include hours of additional footage and other great features.
Extended-edition discs: A director's cut or special anniversary release of your favorite film or TV series on Blu-ray is usually a great edition to have if you want extra features. Extended editions usually come in one of two forms: Either the movies or TV episodes in the set already include the extended versions, or the set includes a separate disc with versions that include the extended scenes.
Behind-the-scenes documentaries: If you're the kind of cinephile who loves to know everything about the film-making process behind your favorite movies, you'll definitely want to see if the boxed sets include behind-the-scenes footage. Sometimes this extra content is limited; it really depends on how big the production was and whether the crew anticipated there would be a demand for behind-the-scenes content. Luckily, many film studios assume that the Blu-ray releases will include these extras, and some stage documentaries have a quality and feel that really manages to capture the compelling work that goes on behind the camera.
Commentary and interviews with cast and crew: Running commentary is a carry-over from DVD commentary, but it gets much better with Blu-ray. The extra memory capacity of Blu-ray discs opens up possibilities for more interactive and engaging features for the audio commentary from cast and crew members. Some discs will have the director or stars of the film onscreen, pointing out details and explaining the construction of different scenes with split-screen displays of material from behind the scenes.
Included digital copies: You can now connect online to download versions of many boxed sets for your iPod, laptop, or tablet PC, so you can watch your movie anywhere without taking the discs with you. If you travel a lot, you'll appreciate this. Even one airplane ride with kids will be greatly improved if you can bring along their favorite movie or TV show.
Additional scenes: A lot of footage winds up on the cutting-room floor instead of on the big screen. Special Blu-ray features give you a glimpse of scenes that were part of the original script, but did not make it into the film's final cut. With a networked Blu-ray player, you can access online features and content for your boxed set. That might include additional downloadable scenes, interviews, or online communities based on the movie.