Hollywood, Say Hello to my [not so] Little Friend: Augmented Reality

As the title tells, this blog post talks to you, people of Hollywood. Originally dubbed the seventh art, cinema has been superiorly popular ever since its inception. For sure, a major reason behind that is the constant innovation from the pioneers of this industry. From the Lumière brothers’ invention of the cinematograph to the insane VFX of today, filmmakers have innovatively kept us hooked all throughout.

Though, a substantial question to ask now, especially with the Oscars being right around the corner, is: what’s next? Which disruptive advancement is going to be the bigger boat we need to take cinema to new heights? By all means, Hollywood isn’t at a stale position currently. But, why wait till staleness sets in?

With that said, it’s high time we properly introduce Hollywood to Augmented Reality. And, Hollywood, frankly, my dear, you’re going to give a damn about AR (oh I could do these movie references all day). Here’s why:

1- AR is an Extraordinary Tool for Promoting Hollywood Releases

So here’s why the word ‘properly’ is in bold above. Hollywood is actually well aware of AR. That’s evident by the plethora of AR campaigns that accompany big movie releases these days. From Game of Thrones to Detective Pikachu, every top franchise is currently safe and sound on the AR bandwagon.

Detective Pikachu
Credit: Google

Of course, we boast AR’s efficiency in marketing all the time on this blog. And since film companies seem to have that figured out well, let’s save the talking for AR wonders they’ve yet to discover.

2- AR is a Fertile Land for Hollywood Plots to Revolve around

To an extent, one could argue that AR as a tech was born out of movie fantasies. In 1988, sleeper hit movie They Live featured entertainment icon, Roddy Piper, donning AR glasses. These glasses showed people for who they really were (mostly aliens). Nobody really knew what AR was at that time or what it could be used for. It just came off as a super cool tech to viewers. A few years later, AR was just as cool when T-800 wore AR glasses in the Terminator 2.

Roddy Piper in They Live

Fast forward to 2012, AR became way more established. Tech visionaries started realizing how this tech could change the way we live and worked on it accordingly. But, they weren’t alone; filmmakers too came to that realization. Mostly, their response was to depict futures where AR consumed humanity and led to dystopias. Award-winning short film Sight was one of the first to touch on that.

Not too long after, Black Mirror released episodes such as Nosedive, Playtest, and Men Against Fire. Being Black Mirror episodes, they all showed horrific worlds. In said worlds, AR was the main culprit. All aforementioned Hollywood productions showcased solid plots. Yet, all of them presented futuristic fantasy settings.

But in the year 2020, we don’t need to imagine (and be scared of) the future AR has to offer.

AR is here and everyone is already using it. In fact, a stat shows that an estimated 1 billion human beings are currently AR users.

Hence, Hollywood plots need to take more in-depth looks at how AR is presently factoring into our lives. Also, they need to deviate from these dystopic narratives because we now have data on how AR affects us. Easily, this data can be translated into stories and brilliant works of art.

I’m no screenwriter, but how about a movie focusing on a couple that met through Pokemon Go? Would their relationship be fragile? Or would they hold on to each other strongly to escape the loneliness they both used to suffer from?

To sum it up, AR plays many central roles in our lives today. But Hollywood has yet to capture that in a thorough and realistic way.

3- AR Offers Thrilling Previsualization Possibilities

Previsualization is an essential part of any Hollywood production. Normally, that starts with storyboards that lay out scenes in drawings for crews to imagine and to stay aligned. As wonderful and handy as they are, storyboards could use an AR boost.

Imagine storyboards that are scanned to bring the scenes to life. That would be a form of augmented print which is so easy to create. At the same time, such storyboards could prove to be invaluable. That’s because augmented storyboards could help directors see and adjust their scenes in real-time before shooting.

Not to mention, prop stores such as Prop Heaven and HPR could make a fortune using the same concept. All they need would be to integrate AR into their services and create 3D models of their props. Definitely, that would be a major edge to lure filmmakers in. It would allow them to see props right in their movie sets before buying.

Last but not least, startup ARwall is aiming big with AR for previsualization. The company has created AR screens which Hollywood filmmakers could use to eliminate post-production. They are screens that enable instantaneous VFX. That way, they also allow actors to live right in the moment and struggle less with imagination. Promptly, ARwall is making waves and Netflix and HBO are just among their partners.

4- Hollywood’s Future Blockbusters Could be AR Films

Now, this is the most exciting part of this blog post. Here, we’re talking about a brand new medium for Hollywood to tell stories; a brand new way to watch movies.

But first, let’s digress a bit and talk about AR filters. While they haven’t been around for very long, these things almost define our times now. This begs the question: why are they that popular? Well, the easiest explanation is that filters put the spotlight on users and on their environments. On their own, they are rarely the center of social media stories. Instead, it’s how users interact with them and how they place them within their surroundings that matter.

But at the end of the day, filters don’t really go under storytelling-based content. Despite that, their immense popularity calls for experimentation with AR content that does tell stories.

Enter AR films!

In 2018, two Stanford undergraduates created Snowbird, the world’s first-ever AR film. The plot is simple as it follows two characters, a bird and a snowman. But, the beauty of it is that it unfolds right in the viewers’ environments. It’s an experience unlike any other and it comes with a heartwarming soundtrack.

Now, who’s to say the top movies of the future won’t be shot in AR? Obviously, there are some movies that will always be better experienced in cinemas. The Joker comes to mind just because of its unique setting in Gotham.

But imagine if a movie like Marriage Story was created as an AR film.

The story of Nicole and Charlie is an incredibly relatable one. And the arguments they had are sadly a lot like the ones that take place in our homes every day. So why not literally take them to our homes, then? How amazing would it be to have Nicole opening jars in your kitchen? Or Charlie punching holes through the walls of your very own house (well not cool but still amazing)?

Here at Augmania, we see a highly prosperous future for Hollywood AR productions. Thus, we’re taking initiative! Right now, you can log into Augmania’s AR creator and start creating your AR movies. All you would need is to create alpha channels of your assets (characters and objects). Then, upload them onto the creator to composite them in your AR experiences.

As we’ve hinted, AR film production is pretty novel. So if you’re still looking to make a name for yourself in Hollywood, becoming a pioneer of AR films could present an outstanding opportunity.

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