MIPTV 2016 took place April 4-7 in Cannes, and hosted over 11,000 delegates, a group which consisted of more than 4,000 buyers, producers, acquisition executives and others searching for new content and new mediums for storytelling. In short, it was a gathering of the tribes, a central meeting point for programming in all its forms and genres, and the people who want to discover ‘what’s next’ in filmmaking and distribution.
One of the most intriguing demonstrations during the conference took place during the Virtual Reality Showcase. In partnership with ARTE and the Canada Media Fund, DEEP Inc. launched LIQUID CINEMA–a revolutionary software product that allows the creation and distribution of highly sophisticated immersive 360 VR based cinema experiences.
Said a representative of DEEP Inc., “This software has the potential to revolutionize the film industry by transforming users’ experience; going to the movies to watch a movie becomes literally going into or within the movie. VR triggers responses from our brains that are as visceral as those we have in real life and LIQUID CINEMA recreates experiences to tell stories that make users feel like they are part of the producer’s story. It’s a radically new way of creating content.”
With the rapid growth of VR technology, a vast amount of software and hardware is being launched, and one of the most notable is this week’s launch of the Oculus Rift, the world’s first high-end retail VR headset.
With technology advancing rapidly, growing demand for quality VR content is multiplying daily. Many producers face challenges creating unique immersive videos during the editing stage. In the past, they’ve also faced the limitations of VR technology. As things have become more refined, various challenges of post-production–including stabilization and stitching problems–have been largely solved.
However, a producer’s biggest challenge is to use cinematic VR to tell stories in a medium that is widely seen as the inevitable evolution of cinema in the Digital Age. Sort of the answer to the question: Okay, this is kind of cool, but what can you really do with it? With this evolution of the cinematic experience, the viewer is now literally in the film rather than watching it; the rules of traditional cinema invented for a two dimensional screen no longer seem to apply.
Writers, directors, and cinematographers around the world are entering unknown territory trying to find the language of this new medium and are discovering new ways of communicating their story.
They face several challenges, including how to direct the viewer’s attention to a focal point which is the filmmaker’s central aim. In simple terms, how does a filmmaker engage the viewer with these new technologies without them being distracted by the bells and whistles?
Filmmakers and audiences alike are now asking questions about cinema that they never thought of before. Of course people are free to look around at anything they want to; but normally “specific viewing” is monitored and enacted by traditional and established editing methods and expertise to entice and interest the viewer. However, a traditional film editing program is impossible to apply here as it would alter the medium and dimensional experience. Currently, 360 players play back 360 video and not much else.
There is a complete loss of control in directing the viewer’s gaze. Many essential cinematic elements we take for granted in traditional films–such as titles, subtitles and graphic elements–cannot be properly applied in a spherical medium where the viewer often completely misses them as opposed to a traditional cinematic environment.
Despite these challenges, there is a growing demand from audiences to immerse themselves into stories. Known as immersive content, it is becoming a vital element and an on-demand necessity as millions watch 360 videos daily on social networks such as YouTube and Facebook. These viewers are also utilizing a number of evolving devices which enable them to do so. Content creators are rushing to solve this demand for immersive content while trying to find the capital to stay competitive and advanced in the industry. Even in the new world of evolving technologies, the old problem of finding money is something that every filmmaker must deal with.
What was missing in cinematic VR production is player technology that gives filmmakers and journalists exploring this new medium the necessary tools to implement and improve this new language and era of storytelling.
LIQUID CINEMA solves this problem with sophisticated players and tools that react live to the roving, unpredictable gaze of the audience, optimizing their viewing experience based on where they are looking and what the creators of the film want them to see. LIQUID CINEMA takes the first bold step towards forging a new visual language that leverages the immersive and fluid nature of cinematic VR.
LIQUID CINEMA also moves the process of creating such experiences out of the exclusive realm of software developers by providing easy to use tools that any filmmaker and journalist can use within hours.
“Our goal in creating LIQUID CINEMA is to put easy to use, affordable authoring tools in the hands of producers, filmmakers, and interactive developers, while providing online content producers, such as broadcasters, a progressive solution to distribute cinematic VR content to audiences around the world accessible on web browsers, mobile, and dedicated VR devices in a cost effective manner,” said DEEP Inc. Founder and CEO Thomas Wallner.
He continued by saying, “What makes our company unique is that you have world class, veteran developers working side by side with seasoned filmmakers. The storytellers take the lead at DEEP and the software development is subservient to the need to create tools that transport the magic of story while making the underlying technology that carries it invisible.”
Highlights of LIQUID CINEMA include:
- Author once, publish to multiple platforms: White label players, Android, iOS, GearVR, WebGL, Oculus Rift, and authoring for HTC VIVE, AppleTV4 will be produced shortly.
- Seamlessly combines 2D/3D VR, Flat film, 360 video and stills in one timeline
- 3D binaural sound rendering
- Live rendered text, animated graphic, subtitles, and credits; nested in layers with custom sizing and
placement for each platform over picture
- Live updating of interactive visual and text elements saves time and money
- All live rendered visual and aural can be controlled by the user’s gaze
- Fully interactive hot spotting that launched contextual menus and information
- Forced Perspective
- Cost effective, easy to use authoring tool means no need for developers
- Tools integrate into existing workflows.
- Rapid content creation turnaround time for high pressure environments
- Data- live gaze-tracking heat maps give insight into audience behaviors
With tools like LIQUID Cinema, filmmakers and content producers no longer have to view VR as just an exotic toy. There are now real-world applications for this immersive experience; viewers are expecting more and more from their technology, as well as their experience when it comes to watching content. We’re now one step closer to seeing those two worlds fully merge.