Post Magazine

September 2015

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EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES 45 POST SEPTEMBER 2015 here sure has been a lot of talk about how the entertainment technology value-chain is being disrupted by new innovations in the art, science and economics of the industry. Between the emergence of UHD, High Dynamic Range, Wide Color Gamut and the startlingly strong grip that over-the-top (OTT) players now have on the industry, I am hard pressed to find any member of the entertainment establishment that is "doing business as usual." However, if we are really going to engage in a discussion about "disruption," it is difficult to overestimate just how profoundly different our sector may become if the pundits are right, and we finally see virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) go mainstream between now and the end of the decade. Estimates of the projected market that VR/AR will create are all over the map. A recently-released study from RnR Market Research forecasts that technological advancements in virtual reality devices — such as head-mounted displays (HMDs) — along with the increasing demand for virtual reality in gaming and entertainment, will cause the market for just the technological pieces to rise from $980.4 million in 2014 to $15.9 billion by 2020. This represents a whopping compound annual growth rate of 63.2 percent. 1 Meanwhile, analysts at SuperData Research say that the emergence of commercially available — and viable — VR/AR products will generate a user community of 11 million by the end of 2016, to create "a whole new dynamic to a fast-paced and ever-changing market." 2 But all of this is just peanuts when you consider what might happen as these new consumers interact with new technologies. Researchers at Digi-Capital believe that when you combine it all — and throw in brand new categories of content and related services that put you "inside the action" (not just in front of it) — then a $150 billion market will be created by 2020. 3 Even if they are all just half right, it is a market that is difficult to ignore if you are in any aspect of the entertainment sector. The implications are vast, and by all accounts will manifest themselves at an amazing pace. My take on some VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY T of the factors that will characterize the birth and early evolution of this technology include the following: CREATIVE IMPLICATIONS From a creative perspective, VR/AR will take the requirement to master nonlinear storytelling to an entirely new level. Just as the arrival of moving pictures allowed directors and other creative forces to rearrange how they organized stories, and move past the chronological limitations that were imposed on stage productions, VR/AR opens an entirely- new way to manage time and space. This will give rise to a new grammar and syntax for the storytelling process as creators of novel experiences wrestle with how to move their audiences through new immersive environments. As a result, we can expect to see the rise of new categories of creative talent — and a new generation of entertainment titans. PRODUCTION IMPLICATIONS The complexity that will be associated with "blockbuster" VR/AR productions can only be described as mind blowing. I have heard people describe the need to provide consumers with a "360 degree" perspective in a "3D" environment to explain the complexity that needs to be managed. But as I interact with the artists, scientists and technicians at Technicolor who are working on VR/AR projects, these terms fall woefully short of capturing the variables and seemingly infinite possibilities that must be taken into account as new content is created for this medium. To address both the complexity and precision requirements, we can expect the emerging VR/AR community to engage in a level of realtime coordination that is unprecedented. Moreover, the community that will have to work together to create the VR/AR smash hits of the near future will be individuals and teams with significantly more diverse skill sets than those associated with today's entertainment productions. However, throwing people and varied skills at the problem statement is not enough. The community will need access to automated and high-performance collaboration platforms that not only enable parallel production processes, but also enforce role-based access control and risk-management protocols that protect the intellectual property that is being created. A WHOLE GREATER THAN THE SUM These are just some of the creative and technological issues that we at Technicolor are working on as we prepare for an exciting future that absorbs — and adapts to — the innovations introduced by the advent of VR/AR entertainment. Honestly, it is an opportunity that is much greater than Technicolor — or any single organization — can tackle by itself. That is why we have opened a broad channel of communication with the entire entertainment industry to jointly explore, experiment and rapidly develop the new generation of experiences that will delight and engage an audience that is ready for its next "wow" moment. BY TIM SARNOFF PRESIDENT PRODUCTION SERVICES/DEPUTY CEO TECHNICOLOR HOLLYWOOD WWW.TECHNICOLOR.COM RE-WRITING THE RULES OF AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT 1. 2. 3.

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