Ever wondered how would Immersive Experiences look like (or rather, feel like) in the Future?
Lets face it: Producing and delivering Live Music and Live events as immersive experiences, is still following the TV-Broadcast paradigm. Perhaps, not even this. After a decade of producing and often live streaming live music performances (Mativision produced the first full three-day-long music festival in glorious interactive 360-video in 2008!), we are still not any further than where the first Cinematographers were: We place a few 360-degree cameras in front of a stage, on the stage, among the audience, sometimes we even move then (wow!) or hang them on cranes or drones (Oh my God!) and very few of us, allow the viewers to select which camera to watch from in real time. Even fewer of us can add more content on the 360 image such as overlayed screens (to mimic the large video projections found close to actual concert stages), pull-down menus with info and/or funny-looking lego-like avatars who we are supposed to believe are representations of ourselves and our friends. OK, we can watch all this in (the still-not-really-satisfactory image quality) of the currently available VR Headsets which are heavy, uncomfortable, cumbersome to use, do not adjust well to the different eyesight of each one of us etc. etc.
Now is this really something to be impressed with? Is this not similar to what Cinematographers did the first years of Cine-Cameras? And does this really compare to the way up-to-date conventional broadcasting techology offers? Difficult questions to answer. And the slow adoption of current VR-offerings by the wider public, in contrast to all projections is an uncomfortable proof. And my point is not that immersive content is rubbish or not worth taking any notice of. Nowhere near! My point is that immersive content needs to be DIFFERENT if it is to become and lead to Immersive Experiences!
All of us involved in the production of immersive content, experiences and applications need to consider how Cinema came all the way from those early days of capturing a theatrical play or a train passing-by with a stationary camera, to productions like Inception and Interstellar, and this selection only references the conceptual complexity of those films. We certainly need to think hard, what can be done with the tools and techology we have in hand, or the ones that will merge in the near future, to enable the production of immersive expriences to develop likewise.
I am sure that we all agree that in the fast-developing era of VR/AR/MX/XR and "whatever"-R technologies, in both HW and SW, allowing easier and more ambitious production of immersive and interactive content, new and innovative methods and approaches are needed to enable the creative industries to take advantage of both available and emerging technologies. And why not, lead those developments to new, as yet uncharted directions.
Aiming to play our little part in this quest, Mativision submitted a proposal for a project in the Audience of the Future-Design Foundations, which was thankfully approved for funding by Innovate UK and since October 2018, is in full swing!
The said project, code-named LIME (from Live Immersive Music Experiences) is a feasibility study which will enable Mativision to research next-generation immersive experiences from live music and live performances and the ways such immersive experiences can be distributed and viewed by the target audiences away from the event.
Aiming to define new innovative modes of immersive content production and distribution which will transform the audience experience of watching a live performance remotely, the project will draw on the company's more than a decade of experience in the field (we have produced 360-degree content for more than 100 real events and performances all over the globe!). We will focus on defining the target audience, studying and understanding their perceptions and behaviours and delivering vital insight into audience expectations from live-music-based immersive experiences that will capture and excite.
Mativision will seek to communicate and exchange views with key figures and forward-looking creators in the live performance sector, opting to incorporate their visions in the proposed future immersive production paradigms. We will approach our existing and past clients and partners but also other people that are renown for their ideas and progressive work in live music performances. And because this is not a competitive project, we do not do this to gain any advantage ourselves alone, we will also aim to talk with other companies which may be seen as competitors to us. We hope that they will believe in the cause and will be willing to contribute; the world will become a better place if we all do better together!
Finally, as "the proof of the pudding" is always "in the eating" (that last part often forgotten or omitted on purpose), in order to introduce those totally fresh and innovative ways to produce and deliver live music events and performances to the target audiences, the project will devise and implement a few real small-scale case studies. We will capture and analyse audience responses in order to produce concise recommendations for next-stage development into full-scale commercial products and services.
The findings of the LIME project will be made available to all interested and we sincerely hope that the provision of these findings will help other companies involved in the production of immersive experiences and will eventually create new revenue streams for the UK's creative industries.
Anthony Karydis, is the founder and Managing Director of London-based Mativision Limited, (a global leader in the production and distribution of Immersive Media - VR/AR/MR) with 30 years of working experience, including managing two high-tech companies in Greece, managing multi-national European R&D projects and University lecturing on Digital Media. He is a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (with the highest distinction of Accredited Senior Imaging Scientist), Senior Associate of the Royal Society of Medicine, member of the Royal Television Society and has a passion for cats, Jazz & Blues, electric guitars and vintage UK and Japanese motorcycles.