Most Indians and global citizens will likely agree that this year’s chilly autumn nights and shorter days bring welcome changes after having to patiently endure lockdowns, work-life disruptions, and discomforts owing to the pandemic. There is light at the end of the tunnel!
The timing is just perfect for celebrating religious festivals and festivities everywhere; Pujas, Diwali, Eid, Christmas, and of course, New Year’s Eve to rekindle bonds.
We can look forward to embracing happier times now that travel restrictions are being reduced globally and fully vaccinated international tourists are welcome to travel and experience India’s glorious cultures and support their economy.
In the West too, our live entertainment industry workers and actors lost livelihoods when theaters closed. Like anywhere else, the pandemic’s domino effect adversely affected supporting industries like travel, hotels, and restaurants.
So, when London’s world-famous live musical theater in the West End reopened in May this year, followed by New York’s Broadway in September, after about 18 months under wraps, it was viewed as the harbinger of a return to normalcy.
Upon reopening, New York’s Broadway shows were greeted with standing ovations and tears!
At least one group of consumers, the introverts, compelled to socially distance during the pandemic, found ways to keep occupied through online computer games, 3D movies, and an assortment of entertainment content including virtual reality (VR).
According to Forbes, the international company, post-pandemic online media consumption streaming accelerated a new content experience and reportedly pushed online subscriptions to exceed one billion globally in 2020. Consumers confined at home became a captive audience.
Those familiar with Stephen Spielberg’s mesmerizing 2018 film ‘Ready Player One’, may agree with my opinion that, by today’s standards, is no longer a fantastical story. The film’s plausible storyline perfectly portrays humans coexisting in VR.
A growing trend suggests that when VR technology and related peripherals such as headsets become affordable, accessible experiences for consumers are likely to accelerate and grow. I co-founded AR-VR & UX-UI Enterprises, to guide companies and make tech usage friendlier.
In early 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic and resulting social distancing, I, as a pioneering UX/UI developer, established through a workable prototype that a traditional biochemistry lesson could be enhanced for an immersive VR experience and accessed remotely. It was thrilling to learn that the progressive education enhancement idea appears to be gaining traction in the US. A high school and university reportedly have begun incorporating VR in their educational programs.
Now that VR in education is proven possible, it was time to focus my attention on exploring the usefulness of immersive tech in live entertainment.
When incorporated in entertainment’s ideation, planning, and promotion stages, VR and AR can be an indispensable asset that permits the fluidity producers and art directors need to manage time and resources efficiently. Producers may, after understanding this tech’s potential, be inclined to see the benefits and agree.
The billion-dollar live entertainment industry, I believe, could be excited by opportunities for improvements that VR and AR developers can deliver beyond the use of 3D camera technology.
Anyone who has visited Las Vegas and experienced Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson One show or seen Netflix’s Black Mirror, a sci-fi episode of Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too which depicts ‘live’ performances, may recall jaw-dropping technologies that made holographic projections of a performer possible.
I see opportunities for the use of VR in set design, and AR for promotions and advertising. Digital tech provides producers and art directors of upscale entertainment the necessary flexibility to change and evolve, potentially saving themselves a bundle.
Inspired by the recently sunset billion-dollar Las Vegas theatrical water extravaganza, Le Reve, I created a prototype of a reimagined stage set establishing that a digital VR set was possible, useful, and can be resourcefully effective. The virtual set included flowing water fountains, portable theatrical performers, creative ceiling lighting, and eye-popping special effects.
When VR is used for digital set and stage design in production, there is a potential for cost and resource savings before creative decisions are finalized. Furthermore, digital VR design prototypes can be securely shared online with the show’s global stakeholders easily.
Using an innovative platform, Spark AR Studio, that developers use for the creation and sharing of AR experiences through the Meta/Facebook’s family of apps and devices, I created a number of Spark AR face filters.
In honor of the over-the-top Broadway musical, Moulin Rouge!, a love story in 1899 bohemian Paris, and 10 Tony Award winners in 2021, I created my newest AR face filter! Then, drawing inspiration from the colorful, African-themed Lion King musical, my exciting filters were created to commemorate the roaring back of New York’s Broadway. Inspired by the trains of Starlight Express, a once extraordinary live British musical, I created a futuristic, metallic filter with a smoking chimney, providing a newer generation a peek into an incredible West End musical from over two decades ago. To view and experience these and other fabulous filters yourself on a mobile phone, click here.
When producers incorporate and share filters of AR experiences on social media such as Facebook and Instagram, they involve and excite fans who could spread the word to a wider audience. AR technology, when used to provide immersive experiences, showcase and promote brands and products, encourage consumers to experience, imagine – then buy.
Entertainment and publicity executives anywhere who choose to strategically incorporate VR and AR in production and advertising, stand to gain. After all, in the end, when interactive and immersive experiences captivate the hearts, minds, and emotions of an audience, it helps them feel included and part of experiences that will be etched in their memories.
Satisfied customers are repeat customers who gladly spread the word!