Augmented Reality Stars

Looking back on some of our earlier lessons and thinking about the future of emerging media technologies, I suspect that through a combination of augmented reality, 3D printing and even 360 cameras, TV watchers of the future will be able to step into their favorite shows, on demand, and become a part of select scenes.

The way we currently use augmented reality, a person can feel surrounded by alternate universes that are created digitally, but from what I’ve seen in my career working for a television network, the future could hold so much more opportunity for augmented reality and television.  Using 360 cameras to shoot scenes, 3D printing to capture objects within the scene and then an augmented reality device to recreate all of the surroundings and elements in a anyone’s personal space is the future of how AR will begin to work with the television industry.

Anyone with an AR device, watching a program that has been optimized for this type of technology will be able to step inside their favorite show and interact with objects as if they are a part of the program.

I predict that there will be many challenges and problems to solve in order to create this level of augmented reality– producers might also have to rely on some sort of sensors to adjust scenes based on a viewers actions, but in the future anything is possible! The television and entertainment industry has come a long way in terms of creating more opportunities for viewers to engage and letting viewers experience shows through AR devices would be the ultimate in emerging media capabilities.


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.