Innovators, Analysts Examine New Entertainment Paradigms

At 30 Ninjas, chief executive Julina Tatlock noted that “the urge for immersion” is one of the chief disruptors that she and her partner, director Doug Liman, see in the M&E industry today. Whether it’s augmented reality, virtual reality or 360-degree imagery, she challenged the members of an NAB 2019 panel on emerging entertainment to pick the one they think will impact production in the next two years. Greenlight Insights VR/AR analyst Alexis Macklin picked all of them — plus cloud computing and AI tools.

“We’re seeing VR featurettes,” she said. “In the short term, this isn’t a replacement for traditional cinema, but it’s definitely coming into play and will affect the VFX pipeline.”

M. Bonnieux director of creative technology and content innovation Andrew Shulkind agreed. He’s consulting on Vegas’ 18,000-seat MSG Sphere and needs to use AR to understand the scale. “It’s an extreme LED projection,” he said. “There are other immersive experiences opening now that don’t rely on a VR headset. Not that any of these technologies are mature, but 5G, real-time rendering and immersive environments will become more relevant over the short-term.”

From Sundog Media Toolkit co-founder/chief executive Richard Welsh’s point of view, “in the next one to two years, there needs to be a business imperative.” “If you have connectivity without bandwidth, you can’t get the data into the cloud and if you can’t do that, you can’t leverage the scale,” he pointed out. “We’ll start to see machine learning (ML) in cameras, data mining happening closer to capture and the bandwidth to move metadata into the cloud while you’re creating it. But money has to be involved or people won’t do it.”

In focusing on the use of game engines to create content, Shulkind noted that Nickelodeon shoots most of their content on green screens. “To be able to capture humans and put them in digital or embellished environments is happening,” he said. “To make photographed environments navigable, and to move that processing off the device and into the cloud is very exciting.”

Macklin reported that, even as many motion picture theaters are adding premium experiences, “we see a growing trend of VR headset owners wanting more immersion.” Tatlock pointed out that a massive gaming environment correlates with the collective experience of an audience in the movie theater. “The motivation to leaving your couch is still a bar,” she said.

Welsh pointed to DJ Marshmello’s concert in “Fortnite” on the game engine, which “spiked 10X the number of simultaneous players.” “The engine scales to 100 million simultaneous players,” he said. “This will drive all sorts of the content layers. Hyper personalization and hyper localization will be a big shift for cinema. How do you give people a shared experience in the same venue but also a personalized experience? We’ll see that in the next ten years.”

Shulkind argued that mobile is the new movies. “When everyone has a mobile device in their pocket, with GPS, cameras and your history — what do you do with that?” he asked. “Maybe it’s a sphere experience, then IMAX, then theater, then TVs, laptops, iPad, my phone. All these would be unique relevant cut-downs. I think that’s a near future scenario.”