Additionally, consulting-analyst firm PriceWaterhouse Coopers in its 18th annual five-year Global Entertainment and Media Outlook indicated that the biggest source of media industry dollars will be consumer spending for internet access (presumptively for greater bandwidth connections). People will spend nearly $190.0 billion on connections in 2021, up from $140.3 billion in 2016. Internet video will grow with spending for subscription VOD (Video on Demand) services, including Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. Also, according to the PwC report, SVOD (Streaming Video on Demand) sales could surpass domestic movie box office revenues in 2019, which is something independent media makers could want to know about. But to the point of this article, PwC says Virtual Reality (and everything under that umbrella of alternative reality mediamaking) will start to come into its own by 2021, generating nearly $5 billion in revenues vs $421 million in 2016. PwC has interpreted this that VR and other alternative reality media will contribute as much to media industry growth as TV advertising.
The essential technological elements that construct AR/VR/MR projects
- Gyroscopes and motion sensors for tracking
- HD screens or stereoscopic displays
- Fast, advanced microprocessors
- Omnidirectional cameras/360-degree cameras
- Photogrammetry to create 3D objects and environments
- Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML), X3D
Actually, for an exploding commercial digital technology with rising buzz, AR/VR has been around since the 1960s. And with the quick pace of developments and product innovations breaking new ground in consumer markets that are sure to roll out for years to come it may be somewhat challenging even for the current group of motion picture and associated media industry producers to find a new role in the emerging landscape and tackle the new opportunities for content production that will be presented in the years ahead.
Distinguishing between Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality
Concepts like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality can't easily be explained through words and text alone, so there will be informative videos in this article that will be helpful to convey concepts behind the technologies more clearly.
In this YouTube episode, The age of Virtual Realty is here but Augmented Reality and its cousin mixed reality are making strides. WIRED Senior Editor Peter Rubin breaks down the new platforms.
Unlike Virtual Reality, which promises to immerse goggle-wearing users into imaginatively and spontaneously created digital worlds, AR overlays images and data atop the real world. A popular (and commercially successful) example of AR today is Pokemon Go, in which Pokemon characters appear on players' phone screens amid the streets or parks they are exploring.
AR systems use similar technologies found in Virtual Reality deployment, but where virtual reality attempts to replace the real world in an enveloping way, augmented reality only places objects within it.
In this YouTube video segment, Nicolai Munk Petersen talks about Augmented Reality and explains what it takes to make your first experience with Project Tango.
As previously stated, in its early implementation Augmented Reality is used to visualize objects that aren’t actually in a space and create immersive experiences that engage its users through sight, sound, and even spatial experiences. When viewed through the appropriate glasses or headset, virtual objects can be manipulated onto the real world surroundings being viewed in real time (this is in contrast to Virtual Reality that conjures forth a totally fabricated surrounding). It is possible for this visual environment to be rendered in various ways. Augmented Reality 3D viewers let users place life-size 3D models in the environment with or without the use of trackers. Trackers are simple images that 3D models can be attached to in Augmented Reality. Augmented Reality browsers enrich a camera display with contextual information. For example, with Google technology, you can point your smartphone at a building to display its history or estimated value. Gaming is yet another way Augmented Reality is experienced, usually creating immersive gaming experiences that utilize one's actual surroundings. Pokémon Go is widely acknowledged as one of the early successes in the use of Augmented Reality gaming where gamers attempt to catch the virtual Pokémon that are hidden throughout a map of the real world.
The YouTube video explains what Augmented Reality is and how it works.
Possible Augmented and Virtual Reality apps for entertainment and media content creators to pursue
Most produced media content or stories for audience consumption are unveiled with a narrative or plot, but rarely is it non-linear as can be the case in gaming. A content producer or media creator will relish any opportunity to flex their creative muscle to satisfy a storytelling challenge with a way to explore new pathways in a story in a non-linear way and the simulated environments that AR/VR/MR create will present new opportunities to reach audiences through a medium suited to take on new challenges. Then again it may just add a new dimension to content formats that are already familiar (music videos, motion picture or television programming that can be projected as long as it is done with AR or VR headset equipment). But regardless of AR being on a faster track for commercial deployment, it's production requirements are likely to always embrace a lot of the same skills and talents that contemporary audio-visual production requires, but resulting in new modes of presentation.
A simple connection to draw between the early implementations of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality is that they both are applied in the field of gaming and animation graphics, a conclusion easily drawn by regarding the early success of Pokemon Go. But as these alternate reality technologies develop and spread into greater mainstream use other categories of creative talent and design skills are likely to be drawn in as well. Here are some areas likely to be affected by new opportunities, with new developments as the field blossoms.
- Video/film projections
- Graphic arts (Google Tilt Brush)
- Screenplay/story conception
- Psychology of film and simulated reality space
- Lifelike avatar creation and depiction
- Music and sound design
- Gaming concepts
- Animation skills
And although a substantive portion of alternate reality productions may not land squarely in the pure entertainment field, it would be wise to be aware that there would still be opportunities open to creators and implementors from the bullet list above in the fields of corporate brand, communications, public relations which are projected for fast growth in their use of AR/VR/MR.
Mixed Reality, which is generally considered to be closely related and the next step after augmented reality because it entails interaction with virtual objects in a way now only seen in science-fiction films such as 2017's 'Ghost in the Shell' (Paramount Pictures) and considered some years yet to come, could usher in the interaction of virtual beings to interact with. To be sure, 'Ghost in the Shell' and other sci-fi films depicting AR/VR/MR sequences (and Spatial Augmented Reality) was not filmed using these alternate reality technologies in a way the 20-minute 'Allumette' (Penrose Studios) was utilizing VR headset gear. Rather, their sequences are used as accessories to a story's plot to lend a perception of futuristic and/or fantasy surroundings as well as provide a point-of-view for the characters in a scene and how they see and interact with such futuristic technologies.
'Blade Runner 2049,' the sequel to Ridley Scott’s science fiction masterpiece 'Blade Runner' set in a dystopian Los Angeles, will incorporate elements of Augmented Reality in its scenes. Reportedly it will also be associated with a virtual reality (VR) version of the film for the Oculus Rift, presumably a VR app drawing on segments of the film from Warner Bros due for release in October 2017. Blade Runner 2049 stars Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling and is directed by Denis Villeneuve.
In a listing that is not meant to be exhaustive, other Hollywood and independent films that have been known to make use of simulated reality technologies are:
- Allumette PlayStation VR launch title (Eugene Chung. Penrose Studios, 2017)
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Robert Zemeckis, 1988, Walt Disney Animation Studios)
- Minority Report (Steven Spielberg, 2002, Dreamworks)
- Stranger than Fiction (Marc Forster, 2006, Sony Pictures)
- Ghost in the Shell (Rupert Sanders, 2017, DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures)
- Dennō Coil (Mitsuo Iso, 2010, Madhouse)
- Fight Club (David Fincher, 1999, Fox 2000 Pictures)
- Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Jonathan Mostow, 2003, Warner Bros. Pictures)
- The Congress (Ari Folman, 2014, Drafthouse Films)
- The Matrix (Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski, 1999, Warner Bros. Entertainment)
Sharing spaces that producers can post their completed computer-mediated reality projects on
- AWE (Augmented World Expo) - Conference and expo dedicated to AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) with events in the USA, Asia, and Europe. http://www.augmentedworldexpo.com/
- Virtual Reality Reporter - Not really a submission destination but certainly a place to learn about what is going on in the AR/VR world with news and upcoming conferences, festivals, and other simulated reality industry activity. https://virtualrealityreporter.com/
- Google Spotlight Stories/YouTube 360 - Artists and technologists making immersive stories for mobile 360, mobile VR and room-scale VR headsets, and building the innovative tech that makes it possible. It can be used for all forms of content from short films to music videos, advertisements to complex game-like interactive stories. It uses 3D and 2D animation, 360° spherical, cinema-quality video, full-sphere surround sound, and advanced sensor fusion techniques. https://atap.google.com/spotlight-stories
- SIGGRAPH VR Village - Features VR and AR installations that are both content-driven and highly interactive. The venue offers attendees the ability to explore the fascinating potential of recently developed VR and AR formats powering real-world applications in health, education, entertainment, design, and gaming.
- Facebook Spaces - Since purchasing Oculus for $3 billion, Facebook has closed the Oculus Story Studio that focused on aggregating original VR content. But it is moving quickly in the development of Facebook Spaces, a social VR environment that will be avatar oriented. In what is known as an evolving situation, the new VR app takes some of the best social features of Facebook – including the users 360 videos and 3D photos – and brings them into a users VR space, letting them spend time with their chosen party as well as starting chats outside the space. They can step inside 360 videos with friends and even draw and play with Touch controllers. https://www.facebook.com/spaces?ref=br_rs
- more to come
What is being developed and implemented right now (at the time of this writing) that can serve as an actual guidepost to future trends?
- Literature & Poetry - In 2011, AR was blended with poetry by ni ka from Sekai Camera in Japan, Tokyo
- Visual Art - In 2011, artist Amir Bardaran's work, "Frenchising the Mona Lisa" overlaid video on Da Vinci's painting using an AR mobile application called Junaio.
- Education & Learning - Multi-media generated simulations of historical events (and enactments), exploring and learning details of each significant area of an event site could come alive.
- Theme parks
- Adult industry
- Video Games - Already well documented in its use and redundant to cover here.
How soon will it take for Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and other computer-mediated reality to go mainstream? Supply and demand is a powerful dynamic in the business world. It can help determine how nascent industries grow and thrive and how quickly the technology that drives them spreads and innovates. In the case of computer-mediated reality, this would mostly likely be controlled by the number of Virtual Reality goggles in circulation. Consider that most high-end smart phones manufactured since 2017 will come with the needed components to form a VR headset or Virtual Reality glasses. That alone would mean a good deal of saturation. Another factor could be uniform standards that VR/AR equipment manufacturers adhere to that would enable all content to be viewed by a single standard and all content to be created through a single standard, assuring uniform audiences and combatting market fragmentation.