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.


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.


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?