So we are all familiar with QR codes, pointing your smart phone at an advertisement to find out more. So what’s next? Advanced technologies can now recognise images and even objects, instantly allowing viewers the opportunity to fully engage with films through augmented reality. Simply by aiming your smart phone or tablet at a piece of printed media, you can now watch it come alive, visually with motion and sound.
It is a whole new experience for everyday, simple things like reading the newspaper or a trip to the local supermarket. Aurasma are the London based company that concentrate on the interaction between physical and virtual products:
Just imagine the endless possibilities in the future, especially with the marriage of print with film.
I am Stacey Cross, currently studying Graphic Communications course at Birmingham City University. Having a great interest in digital communications and a passion for film, during my time at Clusta I shall be carefully analysing and evaluating the future of film. I look forward to learning and sharing my ideas with you over the next few months. If there’s anything you would like to ask me then feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the way back in March, Warner Bros were the first of the major Hollywood film companies to make their movies available to rent through Facebook. All of the videos will have the usual functions, play, pause, stop as well as the added bonus of being able to leave the film half way through, log out and simply resume the watching position when you log back in.
Warner Bros Digital Distribution (WBDD) are responsible for the move, which would hopefully put a dent in the colossal wave of illegal downloading and streaming. At least this way the sound will be clearer, unintelligible subtitles won't be present and the screen won't darken when usher walks by. Taking on the likes of Netflix and LOVEFiLM, they tested the waters with The Dark Knight and have now added Inception, Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone and Yogi Bear to the list of titles available for 48 hour rental. The service is currently being tested on American users, but if successful, the digital rental store will go international. WBDD have also signed a deal with Japanese video hosting site YouKu for streaming of Inception, meaning Warner Bros digital renting is already going global.
The social networking giant Facebook is all about sharing; photos, thoughts and now the latest feature. The communal aspect watching films through fan pages and being able to share and even chat online whilst you're watching is something competitors do not currently offer. More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) is shared every month. Offering movie studios is a fast, simple, convenient way of instantly exposing a film to Facebook’s 500+ million active users. This experiment has opened up a whole new revenue stream and re-establishes credits as a currency for real products within an online environment. Facebook said that more than 400 developers were already using credits, but it is less clear as to how many consumers have adopted this currency at the moment.
Facebook’s Jonathan Thaw quoted that they were “Looking forward to seeing the new and interesting ways that developers and partners use credits to offer virtual and digital goods in the future”. Hence, as possibilities for expansion are already being speculated on, including e-books, music and purchasing movies to stream at any time, it is clear that Facebook could potentially become a one stop portal for entertainment.
Traditionally, theatre hasn’t exactly been quick at adopting new technologies, but it now seems to be at the forefront of innovation. The Sydney Opera House is the most recent example of utilising visual augmented reality to enhance the experience of live symphonic performances. In this case, they used real-time audio reactive graphic projections that simultaneously canvassed the interior and exterior of the building (March 20th '11). 21 projectors, half a mile away from the building achieved the desired effect, though Vis Center Technology have produced on-stage projection screens that enable self-contained rapidly interchangeable background environments, without the downfall of shadows or space.
This means that digital technology; film and imagery can now be incorporated more easily onto sets, making productions appear more dramatic, engaging and realistic. 3D technology has dramatically changed the accessibility and versatility of opera performances, as seen within the Metropolitan Opera House ‘Siegfried’ production and Donizetti’s ‘Lucrezia Borgia’ at the English National Opera, which has now been 3D broadcasted across UK theatres. In particular, Carmen at the Royal Opera House has introduced a completely new audience to the world of classical music, but what’s next?
‘Death and the Powers’, a groundbreaking new opera created by Tod Machover and the MIT Media Lab, fuse live singers with “disembodied performance” technology, giving it the reputation of the “Avatar of the Opera world”. This is nothing new for Machover, who is continually pushing the boundaries of technology, as seen within his other performances; ‘Valis’ (Pompidou Centre, Paris '87), ‘The Brain Opera’ and ‘Skeli’ (Lincoln Centre, NY). Yet, ‘Death and the Powers’ took his explorations further, fully embracing new technology through the adoption of geometric robots, animatronics and shape-shifting chandeliers, using music to bind the overall performance together.
An increasing number of companies are looking at online content as a way of interacting with the younger generation, allowing modern drama productions to escape the confines of a specific place and time. A move to digital content creates a new platform for audiences to access opera, both in the UK and internationally. It is now possible to enjoy highlights without leaving the house. With the average cost of a West End show at £35, digital content now allows full access to the arts for those on a lower income, with a greater means of engagement through short documentaries, apps, Facebook and Twitter.
Twitter is a surprising addition to the Opera scene and it has seen some success. ‘Such Tweet Sorrow’, based upon Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (The RSC and Mudlark) was designed to target a modern teen audience by creating interactive character profiles. Although this concept failed, the Royal Opera House capitalised on using Twitter within its production of ‘YourOpera’ and ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. Here they asked the “Ballet Bag Ladies” to take over their account for the opening night, resulting in a strong following on top of its existing 15,000 followers.
Game-Play has utilised mobile technology and GPS to generate an interactive environment for live performances. ‘Fornight’ at the Proto-type Theatre in Bristol guided its audience around the city through text messages and emails in search of portals. These were RFID installations that played pieces of music when triggered, removing the traditional structure of existing performances.
The Norfolk and Norwich Festival ‘A Short Message’ performance by Tim Etchells’ allowed audiences to be projected into Etchells’ poetic yet psychedelic clown-infested world, by encouraging viewers to give over their mobile numbers so that they could be directly contacted throughout the performance. As a result, Etchells was able to invade the minds of the audience, manipulating their thoughts and retaining their concentration.
Naturally opera companies, including the Belfast Grand Opera House are adopting apps to showcase up-to-minute information regarding performances, synopses, images and video clips. Many are experimenting with apps during performances to access data, including sopranos’ biographies and translated subtitles. Hence, it is clear that opera has now recognised the need to capitalise in offline and online technology to match the desires of the younger generation.
Recently, ClustaLabs was looking at the development of second screen applications in advertising, but will it also affect home entertainment. With the evolution of Boxee, a device that enables programmes and films to be found on the internet and then displayed on your TV, will TV become more socially interactive and if so, should it?
A fundamental feature of Boxee is the ability to send web videos and online TV shows direct to your Boxee from any internet browser, ready to watch when you are free. Socially, Boxee can be used to obtain recommendations from your friends on Facebook and Twitter, ensuring that users never miss out on sharing the latest gossip. This is all great news and will definitely take off, but isn’t the whole point of TV about sitting down and zoning out, disengaging with what is going on around you?
Avner Ronen (CEO of Boxee) recently stated that “The reality right now is that it is very hard to innovate on the big screen." This may explain the difficulty that 3D technology has experienced within the marketplace.
Over the last three years, 3D technology has taken a more formidable role within cinema, yet until recently, TV has been slow to adopt it. Arguably, users can now experience breathtaking realism from 3D movies within their own home, especially as Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Mitsubishi have all announced plans to launch 3D televisions within the next year. DreamWorks and Disney has also spotted the opportunity to release a range of 3D titles for home use, along with Sky who have announced the development of a new 3D TV channel for 2011, but is this what consumers want?
Existing 3D technology has received a mixed response from the general public. Many have experienced issues with vision including eye-strain & headaches and a large proportion wish for films to remain 2D, partly because they hate wearing the retro 3D glasses. With this in mind, will the film industry split into those pro and against 3D?
There are many opinions based around the future of TV. Westinghouse Digital believe that more and more Americans will display multiple flat panels right next to each other to enable multitasking, viewing more than one piece of multimedia content at a time, including movies, photos, art and live sport. Maybe, but unless the prices of televisions decrease, remotes become more universal and that interaction is encouraged between the screens themselves, then this is looking more and more unlikely.
According to Comet, in less than ten years, spectacles and contact lenses will superimpose films and imagery onto the retina, instead of viewing through the TV. By 2020, they believe that people will have grown tired of 3D specs and change to contact lenses that can be worn throughout the whole day, coming into play when you watch films. A more extreme opinion is that these contact lenses will also enable viewers to physically feel the pain and emotion of characters, pushing the boundaries of augmented reality, especially in gaming.
Is this going too far? Will this lead to the death of the traditional TV? Join us on Twitter: @clustalabs to discuss the debate.
A few weeks ago Nintendo released the 3DS, the glasses-free 3D portable gaming platform and the next step in 3D technology. But why then is there still a need for 3D glasses at the cinema?
Last year, the 3D film Avatar took the top spot at the box office and the production-line of 3D cinema has since ballooned. (There was a witty reference to Disney’s Up in there somewhere.) Clearly 3D is the industry buzz-word for 2010/11 with media producers aiming to crack the market and lead the way in 3D experience for consumers, but what is the key to the three-dimensional door?
Speculation online has been rife around the technology inside the 3DS allowing for 3D gaming without the need for glasses – it’s widely known that three-dimensional viewing works by each eye seeing a different image and when put back together by your brain you get a 3D image. Traditionally both polarising and anaglyph (red and cyan) glasses filter images between the left and right eye, this is called stereoscopic 3D. Whilst there’s been no official word from Nintendo on this one, speculation online suggests that the 3DS achieves stereoscopy using a filter over the screen which can be switched on or off to block out light going to your left and right eye – meaning users of the device can switch between 2D and 3D images.
By now you’ve probably guessed where this is going, why not put filters over all cinema screens you may ask. The technology which is speculatively used in the 3DS – called a parallax barrier (yes, another big word) – is highly dependent on the angle at which you view the images, on the small screen of a portable gaming device the filter works well but if scaled up to the size of cinema screens the filter simply wouldn’t effectively split the left and right images.
Recent research has resulted in some speculation around the health-implications of stereoscopic 3D imagery – with your eyes focussed on different images some scientists have raised their concerns of excessive eye-strain and other complications. Whilst there’s no official word on the health implications of cinema-scale 3D viewing, have you ever wondered why some pre-roll adverts are in 3D and some aren’t? Easing your eyes into the 3D experience has been suggested as one way to alleviate some of the traditional symptoms of 3D viewing. So are we going to see more 3D adverts?
Increasing investment in 3D technology both for the home and cinema means that 3D advertising could see a massive surge in the next year. Previously shelling out for a 3D advert would mean that your investment would only get your product or brand promoted in three-dimensions on the big screen, however with devices such as the 3DS becoming popular investment in 3D adverts have the prospect to be used across a multitude of emerging platforms.
Even though the technology used in the Nintendo 3DS can’t be up-scaled to work on cinema-scale, the filters are currently being tested in other hand-held devices and in glasses-free 3D televisions. Imagine a 3D mobile phone, mp3 player or sat-nav – already being trialled in Range Rovers believe it or not.