col·labo·rate (kə lab′ə rāt′)
1. to work together, esp. in some literary, artistic, or scientific undertaking
Almost 13 years ago I recall evangelising to various groups of top BBC exec producers, writers & creatives that the internet is an important new medium. “Lets be clear” I would say “audiences will have unlimited choice not only to watch what they want, when they want but to create content themselves for each other. You will need to change your relationship with them and find ‘time’ for this new relationship, to make any kind of impact in their lives in the future”. Time is the operative word. Is there time to win audiences back? Do you have time to spend collaborating with them and creating meaningful vs flash-in the-pan viral, transmedia content? Is there time before you become mostly irrelevant? I am still saying the same things to today’s generation of producers.
Traditional providers – it’s very simple. You no longer control distribution or dictate what gets consumed. Apart from a few mass produced, live, appointment to view episodics, reality shows & hyped box office the rest is in competition with people-produced, personally relevant media & conversation.
What is Mixed Reality, why is it relevant and has TV become it’s background medium of choice for larger numbers of media consumers who around the world are spending more time in online pursuits than glued to the content breaks in-between the advertising slots of commercial TV. How will TV survive in a world where social and gaming worlds are far more compelling?
Latest video above available as a download (with better audio & creative commons) 50MB MP4 click here
I am up at the SPAA conference in the Gold Coast producing at and speaking on one of only two panels, for TV and Filmmakers, that are really focused on the ‘creative’ vs biz only possibilities of games and virtual worlds and (that oft misused term in these circles) New Media (that internet thang). The topic of our panel is “Where Virtual Worlds Meet TV, Where Films Meet Games” and features SilkCharm aka Laurel Papworth, Keren Flavell aka SL’s Starr Sonic (SLCN.tv)Â and truna a great games evangelist and IGDA leader hailing from Brisbane.
This topic is driven partly by a mass fragmentation and a paradoxical reversal of fortunes at the moment – where TV itself is the actual snacking medium and where the longer form immersion is in online communities, virtual worlds and games. But can the mediums truly cross-over?
I have been talking for a couple of years now about the fantastic potential of the live and by implication shared TV experience to be enhanced by extending the world into online games. Where are we and where might we be in a few years once the ‘broadcasters’ realise that keeping an audience involved in the ‘IP’/programme in-between airings is a good thing. Good for the story creators, the latent creative audience and of course advertisers who need eyeballs/hands/ears/minds. Some older Personalize posts on this topic.
Anthony Zuiker creatorof the CSI franchise was at one point going to join my panel and his perspective is critical in this:
“The advertising model for TV is completely broken top to bottom. I’ve lost 20% of my viewership in a year and a half… where are they? They’re on the web and other platforms.” Despite a “revolution” in television that now delivers some of the highest quality programming in the history of the medium…Zuiker believes that the “technological boom” happening concurrently is negatively impacting the popularity of the medium.
A part of the SPAA panel here on the Gold Coast, is looking at the issue of where TV and Virtual Space ‘will’ cross-over, not some wacky installation in a dark art gallery but a new emerging element of the entertainment industry where film and games are joined at the hip and TV and social virtual worlds work in glorious real time – live broadcast driving and linking to highly social environments, what Interactive TV has always tried to be. FYI here is the synopsis of my panel “Where Virtual Worlds Meet TV, Where Films Meet Games”.
“Which side of the wall are you on? Are you ready for the Mixed Reality, Entertainment Perfect Storm? TV and Film OR Games and Virtual Worlds? That wall is about to crumble. This is a wake up call to all entertainment producers and consumers to prepare for an almighty collision. Audiences are already spending up to four times as much of their entertainment time in virtual spaces than they are watching TV. Gary Hayes says “I think we are really approaching a perfect storm, a mixed reality perfect storm, because we are seeing several things happening. The first one is a long history of games based on TV and films. Another ‘wind’ is virtual worlds, particularly the exponential growth of customisable social spaces and the important ability to integrate external media into them. The third force is audience behaviour, who involved in far more simultaneous activity particularly between broadband web and TV. The fourth element to this perfect storm is actually what is happening to TV and film, such as live reality TV becoming more game like and now over 100 feature films in production based on game worlds. All of these forces together are creating a really potent mix that all producers need to be aware of”
What is Mixed Reality?
Mixed Reality is a term that needs a more focused definition, as I believe it is also misused. So I see Mixed (or Cross) Reality as
“a creative or social activity that takes place simultaneously in real and virtual worlds and where the interaction in each are resonant and dependent on each other”
So typical practical examples – a conference that has active audiences in the virtual and real world and both communicate seamlessly with each other or where a kids TV show is broadcast while children collaborate in a virtual world and appear to help the progression of the story or a film on a DVD with clues that as you watch it allow you to progress with other players in an online game. But there is also another key aspect of cross or mixed-reality, that of virtual “˜things’ appearing around us in real physical environments. This is often called “˜augmented reality’ but I believe it sits under the broader “˜mixed reality’ umbrella.
Some folk also call this form ‘blended entertainment’ – but to me that doesn’t specifically suggest virtual space and is more related to the already out-dated ‘cross-media’ RIP (hello – Social Media Entertainment) or Extended Entertainment, which is more in my Level 1 or 2 cross-media definition on Wikipedia.
About the Mixed Reality Compilation Video Above
I think the potential of this two-way flow is significant for education and business but also for entertainment and advertising/marketing. So I put together the short film above that hopefully captures a sense of where we are with this circa 2008. I wrote a rather rushed voice over for the short film, a kind of pretrospective (writing back from the future) looking at a “Dawning of Mixed Reality“. As well as my music and voice over (apologies, it was done at 1am a few days ago)Â it contains many choice clips trawled off YouTube but also quite a few that I have worked on at LAMP, the Format Factory, BBC and various other hats.
Is this reality? Is this fantasy? In 2008 the great transition truly began. Whereas a decade earlier we used to “˜log in’ to cyberspace, now we began to semi-permanently inhabit virtual space and the digital world started to leak out into everyday life. It began to infiltrate our shopping malls and became integrated with our everyday lives. Humanity started the relentless journey towards the natural future where virtuality became a greater reality,Â and where digital fantasy and organic reality were inextricably intertwined.
Through the early 2000s pervasive wearable computing started to break down the walls that used to separate our virtual existence from our physical one. This same technology also allowed us to embed ourselves seamlessly into virtual worlds which is where we could truly experiment with future forms of entertainment, art, education and business.
In these new places we became the real time, living celebrity. Many of us became avatar stars, pixel gods – exalted as those linear film and TV icons. This became the only place for many. By 2007 hardcore gamers were already spending fifty five hours per week “˜inside’ these shared worlds and learned to forgot about the real world. This became the place where their most meaningful hours were spent. Everyone began to blend the two domains, combining them in new ways, driven by an invisible urge. Thus started the global meshing, of today’s mixed reality.
But in 2009 questions were asked. As in the many films that hinted at our transhumanist future, would the physical embodied self ever become redundant? Would we truly evolve as self contained, digital entities? May we as well be slumped in a chair with a cable plugged into our heads? Regardless, as the real world became inhospitable we all started to crave for the immersion and began moving our physical selves into these spaces. Even more than that we wanted our peers our un-virtual audiences to be able to share our experiences there. It became a contagious as the most poignant moments and memories were the ones in virtual space.
But we needed to look beyond these screens and into our own souls. Find the truth written along the “˜thin white line’ that separates analog from digital, person from avatar. This was the beginning. It always was. As far as the meshing or blending of reality and virtuality, in 2009 they were the equivalent of grainy black and white movies seventy years earlier. Our experiences were simultaneously part real, part virtual but it didn’t matter which was which anymore. Both were valid and they depended on each other. Those early parallel existences of twenty years ago started to move humanity forward, released our imaginations and we coexisted with our precious and ultimately fragile, physical selves. The great crossing had begun.
I was particularly interested in several new developments that are allowing “˜minority report’esque’ eye-catching. holographic human figures into real space. You will spot these in the film, the live Telstra conference or the models trying on clothes in store windows and closed displays. I tried to list most of the items below and have copy paste some of the text that describes the videos. If there are others you think are significant or that I have missed, please comment and as I do with other compilation films I will be updating regularly, particularly on the download versions.
The various clips in the film are detailed below:
InLimbo Blended Reality – A.M. Architect sits In Limbo to converse and showcase their electronic music. Simultaneously to the broadcast, the show was recreated in the KRTU-Second Life complex, the audio streaming and photos of the studio dynamically updating
Gizmondo Augmented Reality Game – Catapult. Please not this was never released it was in development when Gizmondo went under. There is no sound on this clip.
Motion Capture & Augmented Reality. Virtual Dancers Part 1- A good sign the tracking is okay is that all this has been obtained on the first test and with no feedback for me when I held the camera. In brief, as long as it is a bit smooth, the real-time tracking is okay.
Tim Johnson’s presentation was held at the Centre for Digital Media at Great Northern Way Campus – home of the Masters of Digital Media program. The event was simultaneously broadcast in Second Life at the school’s virtual world campus located at University Project.
A re-invisioning of a 1916 Italian Futurist film using Second Life Augmented Reality Technologies, being developed at Georgia Tech. The short film is a hybrid live action and machinima captured in real time. There are no use of Green Screens. Pos-production is not used to composite the Second Life image and live image.
Aussie talkshow host Rove McManus made history yesterday at Auckland’s Vector Arena as the first person to have his hologram beamed across the Tasman. Multiple cameras beamed his three-dimensional image from a studio in Melbourne to the paper-thin Auckland screen, accompanied by sound effects from Star Trek’s transporter beam, enabling McManus to have a live discussion with Telstra-Clear chief executive Allan Freeth.
2004 Video, computer, pneumatics. A stack of books sits in a chair and, on them, a monitor abuts a small table. The surface of the table holds water, forming a small rectangular pool in front of the monitor. The monitor depicts a woman’s face, her chin resting on her folded hands.
au.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw – Using the infrared camera in the Wii remote and a head mounted sensor bar (two IR LEDs), you can accurately track the location of your head and render view dependent images on the screen. By Johnny Chung Lee, Carnegie Mellon University. For more information and software visit johnnylee.net
Larngear Technology’s story in the research and development, designing, and marketing of Mixed Reality technology is well describe and illustrated in the TV program Clickzone, supported by SIPA. The show is hosted by Tai, Chutima, from the movie Season Change.
More to come…
There are several companies around the world developing Cross-Reality forms. One that I am heavily involved with, The Format Factory, are pioneering formats that bridge the space between compelling participatory TV and online game worlds. This is a kind of teaser video I created that metaphorically demonstrates some of the ’embedded’ world-within-worlds. Their sister company The Project Factory have been doing some basic but interesting cross-overs in Second Life too.
I also talk in more detail about Mixed Reality potential in this early 2006 seminar, here are the slides from that one containing many cross-branded vs cross-reality examples.
I will leave the final word again to Mr ‘CSI’ Zuiker who instinctively points out that particpant audiences expect to be involved in the story, to be the hero, the villain and to feel they are partly in control of their own personalised route through it. Customisable and game worlds with existing culture are the best tool at film and TV makers disposal.
“In the gaming area, you want to give people tasks, to shoot things and upload pictures… You’re doing this because you want these people to be creating their own story and it will be part of the crime on the broadcast… Even if it’s not the actual thing I shot, I was part of that experience, that community, that narrative.”
PS: BTW I think the term ‘participatory audience’ used in the title of this post/article, is a bit of an oxymoron. Audience as a term suggests passivity not participation…but I am sure you will let me off for that one?! Please.
I gave an early 9-10.15am keynote presentation to the trendy young filmmaker folk at SPAA fringe on Saturday. It was received well by all who I spoke to and on the grapevine. It was sympathetic to the many case studies shown by Peter Broderick in his two sessions highlighting a range of filmmakers selling DVDs off the web and direct to fans. My talk though looked more specifically at social connection and examples of new form media that went beyond ‘flogging’ the linear video story or doco, or just reaping the benefits of cutting out the middleman. I was keen on trying to get under the skin of what new forms are being developed by the audience themselves – this will be developed in a further post. But…
It was clear that the fringe crowd have moved beyond web 1.0 (brochure sites promoting theatrical or TV), many are half way into web 2.0 (starting to share and discuss) so, introducing the concepts of trust’onomics (tm), web 3.0, (the live and immersive web) and instant communication with communities of interest, did not fall on deaf ears – as it would have done last year.
Laurel Papworth (who was winging her way to Singapore at the time) and I also worked up a simple (albeit complex looking) social media marketing campaign diagram to focus on a few simple phases and steps.
INVOLVE – live the social web, understand it, lurk, listen, this cannot be faked
CREATE – make relevant content for communities of interest
DISCUSS – no conversation around it, then the content may as well not exist
PROMOTE – actively, respectfully, promote the content into the networks
MEASURE – monitor, iteratively develop and respond or be damned!
Related to this I was surprised by the number of film people who I spoke to at SPAA, who now ‘get it’. They have come to realise the need to engage and surround themselves with experts in this field, helping them develop strategies, hand-hold them through the technology. I was not shy in saying that they need to choose their advisors carefully – not be swayed by marketing hype from new kids on the block or traditional web companies – who are suddenly experts! Effective social network marketing comes from deep understanding and experience of communities and how they operate and what motivates them – not the ability to fiddle with facebook groups, learn a few catch phrases or make cute viral YouTubes. Implenting a campaign the wrong way and you will get your fingers seriously burned, and rather than only being ineffective, have no results it can actually have a negative impact if not handled with empathy and integrity…anyway enjoy the slides above and the ‘simple’ SME Marketing diagram below…
Presenting on and producing panel on Thursday 13 Nov 3.00-4.15
WHERE VIRTUAL WORLDS MEET TV, WHERE FILMS MEET GAMES
Which side of the wall are you on? Are You Ready for the The Mixed Reality, Entertainment Perfect Storm
TV and Film OR Games and Virtual Worlds? That wall is about to crumble. This is a wake up call to all entertainment producers and consumers to prepare for an almighty collision. Audiences are already spending up to four times as much of their entertainment time in virtual spaces than they are watching TV. EA Games have partnered with Endemol to produce TV shows inside virtual worlds, MTV Networks have virtual versions of their popular TV programs Laguna Beach, The Hills etc and there is a growing tide of global landmark series spilling into virtual worlds such as CSI, The L Word and Big Brother.
This exciting panel will examine a wide range of cross-over services that work between games, virtual worlds and linear TV. The panel is intended for games creators, social network managers and film and TV producers looking to merge their entertainment worlds. It will also be of interest to designers of games that work across media in the physical world using mobiles, print, viral techniques, TV and the web.
“I think we are really approaching a perfect storm, a mixed reality perfect storm, because we are seeing several things happening. The first one is a long history of games based on TV and films. Another ‘wind’ is virtual worlds, particularly the exponential growth of customisable social spaces and the important ability to integrate external media into them. The third force is audience behaviour, who involved in far more simultaneous activity particularly between broadband web and TV. The fourth element to this perfect storm is actually what is happening to TV and film, such as live reality TV becoming more game like and now over 100 feature films in production based on game worlds. All of these forces together are creating a really potent mix that all producers need to be aware of” Gary Hayes
Join us as we debate whether the internet is helping unleash creativity. What opportunities are there for the creative on the internet? We will discuss the enormous potential of user generated content, the new business models and whether the technology is driving or restraining creativity. Speakers include:
Gary Hayes, Director LAMP & Head of Virtual Worlds, The Project Factory
Martin Hosking, Executive Chairman, RedBubble;
Angela Thomas, Lecturer, English Education, University of Sydney;
Therese Fingleton, Project Manager, Australia Council;
Next week, on 24th and 25th October, Sydney’s Chauvel Cinema will come alive with the buzz of talented filmmakers at the 9th annual SPAA Fringe conference.-Continuing the tradition of showcasing innovative and aspirational speakers, delegates will be delighted to know that LAMP Director Gary Hayes; award winning Executive Producer Sue Maslin (Celebrity: Dominick Dunn, Japanese Story); and Phil Lloyd, (Writer), Reuben Field (Post Production Supervisor) and Dean Bates (Producer) from Review with Myles Barlow will also be sharing their insights.
“Gary Hayes is one of Australia’s leading authorities on cross media. He led the new media division at the BBC for several years and is called on to speak at all the major international digital events. Cross platform is such a massive, evolving beast and this important session is to bring us up to speed with what is happening NOW.-Luckily for us Gary lives and works in Sydney (at AFTRS) – frankly he was a no brainer.” Gaylee Butler, SPAA Fringe Curator
Hayes is the Director of LAMP (Laboratory for Advanced Media Production) and Head of Virtual Worlds, The Project Factory. At SPAA Fringe, Hayes will look at the existing and future forms of entertainment by studying successful case studies of ‘connected’ entertainment around the world and some of his own work at BBC, game and virtual worlds and selected projects at LAMP and AFTRS.
“Social Media Entertainment at its simplest level is large connected online communities creating, commenting, sharing and playing with content. As eyeballs move from traditional distribution screens, so do the advertisers and so does your funding. Be prepared for the future and start to understand how to really engage with the participatory audience, learn how to engage by having a conversation with them rather than shouting at them.” Gary Hayes, Director at LAMP
Sue Maslin is an award-winning producer with credits including the feature films Road To Nhill and Japanese Story. She has independently produced many documentaries and is Executive Producer Of Celebrity: Dominick Dunne, which premiered to sell out audiences at the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival.-Her session will look at alternative ways of managing business and financing projects in the new “˜Offset’ environment as well as retaining and exploiting content rights across all screens ““ cinema, television and digital on-line. Celebrity: Dominique Dunn will open theatrically on the opening night of SPAA Fringe, where delegates will receive a discount by presenting their badge.
“SPAA Fringe attracts emerging and experienced filmmakers who are prepared to think outside the box. It provides the perfect opportunity to engage with the comprehensively changing screen industry landscape and the kind of methodologies and screen content which will be relevant in the future. All bets are off as far as I’m concerned. Expect really exciting and challenging times ahead.”-Sue Maslin, Film Art Media
Review with Myles Barlow was conceived by long-time friends Lloyd and Trent O’Donnell (Co-creators) who originally intended the show to be short interstitials, one review per episode. In 2007, Lloyd and O’Donnell brought the idea to Starchild Productions, the Darlinghurst partnership of producer Bates and director Field. Together, the four developed the project in their down time. Review with Myles Barlow looks at the triviality of critics who “˜waste time’ on matters such as film, food or art. The show follows one man who dares to review all facets of life ““ our experiences, our emotions, our deepest, darkest desires ““ to rate them out of five stars.
“The team behind Review with Myles Barlow are interesting for a number of reasons.-They go to air on ABCTV on 16 October so the show is fresh as a fish. To raise awareness they have a really clever viral campaign going on and their low budget means that the set is entirely created in post– production.” Gaylee Butler, SPAA Fringe Curator
Friday 31 October – Future of Branded Social Entertainment (McCann Erickson)
Unravel the mysteries of web 2.0 as leading executives from enterprise marketing and government demonstrate the opportunities and challenges awaiting you in the second generation of web based communities.With the explosion of interest in the business models driving the internet economy, this event will establish the commercial offerings social media can bring to enterprise, marketers and government.
Offering Keynote insight from the industry’s leading experts, social media campaign studies from corporate marketers and collaboration case studies from enterprise and government, this 2 day streamed event will promote your understanding of how all areas of the traditional economy are benefiting from the revolution in social participation and collaboration.
Gary Hayes, Director LAMP and Head of Virtual Worlds-The Project Factory
Michele Levine, CEO,-Roy Morgan Research
Tony Marlow, Associate Director of Research-Nielsen Online
Michael Walmsley, General Manager Asia Pacific,-Hitwise
Nick Abrahams, Chairman, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Group,-Deacons
Scott Buchanan, Founder,-Buchanan Law
Donna Bartlett, Partner, Media,-Holding Redlich
12.00pm Tuesday 25th – Digital Worlds: Social, Virtual, Mobile
Meet generation V
What are the opportunities for enterprise, marketers and government?
The psychological implications of virtual interaction
What are the mobility limitations of virtual worlds?
Gary Hayes, Director LAMP, Head of Virtual Worlds, The Project Factory Laurel Papworth, Director & Social Networks Strategist, World Communities Paul Salvati, Director, Channel Management, smartservice QUEENSLAND
Well that’s most of them – there are lots of seminars and private tete-a-tetes mixed in-between, as well as endless prep at AFTRS etc etc: making for a rush towards the end of the year!