Crashing of the Costa Concordia in VR

The conviction of a cruise ship captain that capsized in Italy made headlines again this week as Italian courts ruled that the captain was at fault for this accident. As sad as this story has been, I remember seeing footage of the ship going underwater in 2012 and wondering what it must have been like for the 4,200 passengers inside.

I think this would make a compelling Virtual Reality story because of the strong visuals and experiential content.


Hypothesis: Offering a 360, VR tour of the Costa Concordia ship before and during its capsizing would give viewers the opportunity to become closer with the layout and better understand how frightening the experience of being overturned and sinking would have been for passengers.

Similarly, to the Feguson VR story, this VR experience would have strong, suggestive content that may not be appropriate for all audiences and would need to be labeled as such.  I believe that creating a VR story on this topic would have certainly affected the minds of some jurors in the captains court case, which may or may not be the first measure of success for this story.

Another measure to determine the success of this story would be to identify the areas explored by viewers of this story.  The article stated that the ship crashed during dinner when most passengers were in the dining area—I would like to know if VR viewers would like to experience the simulation there or from other areas of the ship like the captains’ chair or somewhere else.

Although this is a grave and scary story to recount, I believe it is one that has strong enough sensory content, making it ideal for VR.


Real or Reality Captured?

Reality capturing is an interesting concept that I could see having a place in television and film. Early in the term we looked at augmented realities where film studios were creating virtual sets that could cost a fraction of the standard location site shoot.  Now, learning more about reality captured 3D models, I speculate that one day we will see more talent being duplicated and integrated into TV and film.

Watching a 3D model of my professor do the choreography from Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, it made me think that by creating 3D models of television and film characters, there could be more complex stunts or group scenes that previously might have required a team of safety experts and even medical staff. Using realistic 3D models, there would be a huge cost and liability savings for many film studios as exampled in the below field test.

Hypothesis: On the set of an action film like ‘The Fast and the Furious’, creating 3D models of professional actors to replace stunt actors would save the studio time and money.

Measures: Stunt people are limited by what is physically possible, but there seem to be a limitless number of attributes and behaviors that can be applied to 3D models. With that said, a 3D models ability to go beyond what any stunt person could, opens more possibilities of what we could expect from TV and film.

On the downside, by allowing a 3D character to do things that are too far beyond what is humanly possible, will eliminate the realistic element that most studios are trying to achieve.

Conclusion: With all things considered, I believe reality captured figures could make cameos in TV and film, but when they do, I hope we won’t be able to spot them!

The Fifth Wall

Maintaining the illusion of the “fourth wall” has historically been a standard rule for theatre and film production—actors acknowledging or interacting with their audience during a show, after all, could of course be a huge distraction.  Recently however, breaking the fourth wall has become an increasingly popular trend resulting in enormous success for scripted series like Modern Family and The Office, where the actors often speak directly into the camera as if communicating with viewers.

As scripted and unscripted series continue to take more risks with production techniques, I believe network TV is the perfect place to experiment with 360 and 3D video. What once was very taboo to show anything but the primary focal point, ratings show that viewers want to feel like they are a part of the action and 360 videos can provide that experience especially when it comes to reality TV.  Allowing viewers to see how scenes in reality TV are often staged and cast members are coached, could add another layer that viewers might find incredibly provocative and engaging.  Shooting reality TV in 360 would give viewers a truly more immersive experience as exampled in the field test below.

Field Test: The Fifth Wall

Modeled after the Lifetime networks’ scripted drama, UnReal, which gives the audience a sneak peak into the a behind the scenes chaos on the production set of a popular television dating show, this field test will actually shoot reality TV in 360 3D, in what I like to refer to as breaking through the fifth wall.


UnReal on Lifetime. 

How It Works:

Each scene of an episode will be shot with 360 cameras, which will allow viewers to explore not only the primary subjects but capture the reactions of producers and other cast members in the same frame. No longer will cast members of reality shows be able to fall back on popular excuses like bad editing and viewers will experience their favorite shows big brother style, with eyes in every room.



Shot in 360, viewers can take a peek at the entire set of a reality shoot

There is so much to be seen beyond just what standard cameras will allow and with reality TV, some moments can’t be recreated, no matter how much staging is involved. 360 video could be an innovative way capture more dynamic stories and give viewers a richer overall experience.


Navigating Foreign Land

Full disclosure—I don’t play video games and I’m only familiar enough with my computer to let Netflix know I’m still watching and create the occasional spreadsheet or presentation for school and work.  I use my computer at the most basic level so when I was assigned to build a landscape in Unity3D I had no idea what I was in store for.

My first attempt on Saturday afternoon was met with confusion and a certainty that I downloaded a bum version because even following along with the instructions word-for-word, it seemed like my version had lots of missing elements. After deleting the software and downloading a second time, I still had no idea what I was doing so I called it quits for the day.  I came back determined to finish on Sunday evening, only because I had to. I watched, re-watched, paused and repeated the instructional video no less than 60 times trying to figure out why my terrain looked different or why I couldn’t view the sky and why the move tools were so hard to maneuver! It was really, really frustrating. Once I finally started to make some progress with smoothing out my mountains and downloading the perfect skybox and I thought I sort of knew what I was doing, but after putting in the 1st controller to move around inside my new world, I realized I had only gotten this far by chance apparently, because I still really didn’t have an understanding of how I got that far. The navigation tools in Unity3D were not easy for me to work with—I never quite understood where I was in my landscape or how to get where I thought I needed to be. I didn’t find the site to be very intuitive because I got lost, stuck and frustrated more times than I ever have in my life and I’m terrible with directions so that’s really saying something.

With all that said, once finally I exported my scene and started interacting with it on my desktop I felt extremely accomplished. I finally heard the walking movements and I could use my standard arrow keys to move forward and change directions. Now that its over, I love my little landscape–this foreign land was hard to create but I think it turned out quite nicely.  My only disappointment is that when recording my screen with Quicktime, I couldn’t capture the walking step sounds.  This was very hard for me and I have a new appreciation for video game and virtual reality developers.  Check out my Unity3D fantasy world below and let me know what you think.

Farewell Facebook?

Depending on who you ask about Facebook, you might hear that it’s the best social site on the web or that it’s a space that no one wants to be publically associated with.  The latter is far departure from where Facebook started, but it’s an increasing trend amongst teens and young adults.  I remember in 2004 when ‘The Facebook’ was so exclusive that it was only available for students at top tier universities—then gradually it opened to all collegiate level students, then high schoolers and I guess after that someone said at the company said—screw this, just let [almost] everyone in.  This may have been a defining moment in Facebook’s Innovator’s Dilemma that I’ve been thinking about recently.


There was so much excitement about this site, that I believe was due in part to its exclusivity. Parents didn’t really know about it—grandparents certainly didn’t; it was where the kids “hung out” in this new digital age. When Facebook did away with its early registration requirements and became a forum for any and everyone to join, including mom and grandma, it opened the market for alternative digital spaces where users could still connect, but in more curated ways.

Twitter launched only two years after Facebook as a way for people to interact with other users who were interested in talking about the topics—not all that different from Facebook, but it created a new and more concise social media option (goodbye Facebook rants!).  A few years later, Instagram was born—again, very similar to Facebook’s photo albums and wall posts, but  now there were filters to jazz up your images.  Since then we’ve gained so many new social sites that are seemingly just portions of all that Facebook can do.

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 10.48.40 PM

I think that Facebook’s Hype Cycle peaked so high that many young people are unenthusiastic about exploring its features and instead run towards other social platforms that may actually offer far less, in terms of network building and diversification of capabilities. Facebook may still be the largest and most successful social network—but for some groups like teens and young adults, it’s an afterthought and perhaps even in danger of becoming a relic of the early social media space.

No More Couch Potatoes

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the experience of watching TV; the act itself isn’t especially exciting, rather it’s the content that often defines whether or not those 30 minutes to an hour were well spent. When I started my career with A+E Networks, I was ecstatic to be a part [any part], of the television creation process. What was once just mindless consumption on my end, this new position gave me a new perspective on the TV watching and its evolution.

Watching TV is often considered a lazy activity, with words like binging or couch potato often being used to describe avid TV watchers. With the integration of Virtual Reality technology into the television programming space, I believe these terms may no longer have the same relevance. This week in my graduate coursework, we discussed Virtual Reality and how it’s being used to allow people to step into augmented worlds; well in my mind, that’s exactly what happens when you’re watching a great TV show, so these two types of technology seem like a match made in heaven.


How brilliant would it be unbox a new pair of HaloLens glasses and program them to your favorite television network—what could happen next? Maybe you’d turn on the latest episode of The Walking Dead and you’d begin seeing everything through the eyes of a zombie; your living room would be transformed with each scene and you could experience all the action happening around you. Perhaps you could be a detective on an episode of Law & Order—the possibilities are endless and kind of fun to think about!  These are experiences that I believe are totally realistic as Virtual Reality continues to mature and other technologies begin adopting their own VR capabilities. In my professional world, this means a great deal of reorganization and creative work for studios and networks, but if it means we all get off the couch and start interacting with our TV sets, then what does anyone have to lose?


Coming Of Age In The Digital Age

Coming of age stories are often the most compelling because finding one’s self is a universal experience filled with challenges and revelations.  The journey to self-awareness and the sense of identity one experiences during their coming of age is typically a personal one, unless its been well documented in storybooks as a lesson to us all–but what about kids growing up in the digital age? Their coming of age stories must look a lot different than the classics—updated with followers, filters and “friend” requests.

Too digital, too soon



One in three teenagers regrets something they’ve posted online by age 16

Teens today are sharing more about themselves than ever through their use of social media; The problem with this is that most of them are simultaneously still learning about themselves while unwittingly developing their digital brand.  Personal branding for social media is something I’m learning-at the graduate- level should be practiced with caution and strategy. Many teens begin creating their digital profiles by age 13 and by 16 nearly one-third has regrets about things they’ve shared online.

Share Responsibly

Creating a quality digital presence for yourself requires authenticity, transparency, time and engagement. Some teens are fully capable of accomplishing this, but for those who don’t understand the rules of engagement or haven’t identified who they want to be IRL (in real life) social media may not be the smartest idea. No matter what privacy restrictions you set up, one emotional rant or embarrassing photo can haunt you for life, and if you’re a teen–that could be a long bumpy road.


Do you think teens run the risk of compromising the future of their digital presence by having access to social media?