Yin, Yang and Tao - 3 Screens, 3D and 360

It seems like the industry has gone crazy for the number 3.   When titling this post I went through all sorts of revisions: 3's company, 3's a crowd, 3 men and an OVP.  Once settled on the above I started to write the actual content.  For me everywhere I look the number 3 is popping up at the moment, I'm turning 33 in the 3rd month of this year for example.   More relevant to this blog roll is that in the OVP universe there are 3 things you need to think about in the coming 3 months all involving the number 3:

  • 3 Screen Strategy
  • 3D video
  • 360 video

All 3 are new this year and something that you need to watch out for:

The 3 Screen Strategy is fast becoming a core must have for any video initiative.   No longer are users tied just to their laptops and desktops to watch online video, now we have convergence (real convergence this time around) at the television and mobile devices.   In fact in terms of consumption these 2 are accelerating at a much faster rate (in that they are accelerating at all) compared to our traditional viewing habits.   If you've got video you can now send it to the phone, the desktop, the TV, wherever there's a screen you can bet it will be able to display video.  Connected TVs, Flash 10.1 enabled mobiles, set top boxes, gaming consoles, cars; they're all coming out of the wood work hungry for video content.   It's the age of the digital mediacaster - publishers, broadcasters, governments, corporates, mom & pop shops can all send their videos to any enabled device.   And I as a viewer will consume, consume, consume!  No longer do I have to bend to the will of some high wig traditional commissioner and programmer.   I can dictate my own channels.  I have the power.  And boy is it fun!

3D Video is all the rage right now.   CES was full of it and the highest grossing movie of all time is built around it.   I even saw my first mobile phone with a 3D screen at MWC10 this year.  But the question still remains: can 3D video become a mass produced commodity?  I have a problem in that I'm struggling to find any reality in the hype.   3D has been around since the 1960s - yes the technology is much advanced but are you really going to sit down in your lounge and put on your favourite 3D glasses to watch video?  It's bad enough losing the remote but now you'll need to keep track of glasses just to watch your TV!  3D contact lenses anyone?   I still think that 3DTV is marketing filler as new technologies like OLED screens (Ultra High Definition etc) slowly make their way to the main stage.  It's all fun but really not worth the effort.  In fact the main driver for 3D, the massive success Avatar, shouldn't be known for its 3D technology according to the film's producer John Landau.   I was at the MOFILM awards the other night when he did a question and answer segment.   What was most intriguing is that for him  Avatar, written by James Cameron back in the mid nineties, is super successful thank so the CGI technology that allowed the real actors to be intimately linked to their Avatar film representations (see where the name came from now?) and not for the 3D technology that was leveraged in the theaters.  In fact the argument is that 3D is more a security measure aimed at stopping pirates from illegally recording the films in the studios than something new and exciting.   So is all the hype for 3D worth it?  Maybe and definitely something to keep on the radar to see how it shakes out.  Until, of course, when true holographic video comes to the consumer.  Now that will be something worth seeing!

360 Video is something I think everyone who's got an immersive story to tell needs to have a good hard look at.   The Internet empowered us all to choose our own programming.   Infinite numbers of channels means I'm spoilt for choice and the content distributors need me more than I need them.   The lean-forward culture made us all fickle and gave the average Vince the Viewer total control of his content programming.   This has the most amazing side effect of we're now actively watching video, not being feed it passively in a semi-comatose state on the couch.   We want to interact, we want to pick the messages from the stream, no more having the story told to us, we want to choose our own adventure.   360 video lets this happen.   Watching 360 videos gives me control over my view point.   Sure the timeline and field of view moves forward in a pre-recorded way but now I can look left, right, up, down, behind me all while things are carrying on.   The office was all abuzz lately when this link was sent around: http://www.vail.com/mountain/explore-mountain/virtual-tours.aspx - it's a mix of Immersive Video and Brightcove.   Or what about this?  http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2010/01/world/haiti.360/index.2.html  Surely this is the way forward.  Tell the story from all angles.   A video safari where the truck takes you down the path but you choose what you want to look at!

It's certainly exciting times.   With Live and Mobile already creating energy this year and now this it seems for 2010 we're going to be very busy trying to leverage all the opportunities video allows us.   5 years ago information was predominately delivered via text and images.   Now it's on the cusp of being delivered completely via Video and Audio.   The Real Time Web and Stream 1.0 is upon us and it's pretty exciting.

-- Cameron Church