Results for category "Entertainment"

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360-Degree VR: Virtually Changing the Face of Entertainment

Since the 2015 Sundance Film Festival’s premiere of VR shorts Lost, Birdly, and Project Syria, the world of storytelling has dramatically changed. Audiences are now able to virtually immerse themselves in the story world created by filmmakers through the use of 360-degree virtual reality camera technology. 360 VR is becoming the latest trendsetter in video and film production. Taking viewers everywhere from cliff diving in Peru to fantasy robot worlds in the latest festival favorite, 360 VR is setting the stage for a transformation in the way we interact and engage. Combining science with entertainment, companies like Oculus and Facebook’s Story Studio have revolutionized the way artists and gamers create media.

Lost VR

Using overlapping areas on multiple cameras, videographers are able to capture images in a 360×180 field. These images are then stitched together into one panoramic video, similar to a “world map” geometric projection in 4K resolution. Other projection effects include the “little planet” and circular fisheye effects, for more immersive dome theater viewing. Programs such as VideoStitch Studio can be downloaded in demo mode from the web for free, however; without paying for the associated license, a watermark will be present on the output videos. Completed content will be in the format of regular video files or stream. This content is then remapped to show only the field of view seen by the user. The product comes ready to use and works with most up-to-date browsers and Adobe Flash Players.

While most smartphones can view HD 360 videos in native applications, the battle continues between two major companies, LG and Samsung, as to who will dominate the VR smartphone market. While LG’s 360 VR headset (compatible with the LG G5 phone) is lighter weight than Samsung’s Gear VR brand (compatible with the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge), its design creates awkward viewing for the user by comparison. The Samsung Gear VR unit also affords viewers more VR content due to its association with the Facebook’s Story Studio and Oculus’ VR library. LG’s VR unit has also proven to perform poorly in comparison, with only low resolution video quality and distorted pictures. Gear VR was proven to have limited to no bugs in its newest inception and is cheaper than the LG unit, making it more user-friendly and desirable to buyers.

Samsung Gear VR Headset

From the 360-degree VR innovations come the need for production companies that can combine this new format of footage with dynamic effects and editing in a way that will fascinate audiences. YouTube and Facebook have joined the race to support uploading high resolution 360 VR content. As the technology quickly advances, these social media giants must adapt more rapidly than the other to attract the frenetic demographic clamoring to capture their experiences and share them with the world.

360 Camera

Help Wanted: Old Souls in Entertainment

A very conspicuous hole is being left in the wake of so many film and music creators and contributors passing away recently. Where an equally talented and spirited thinker should be stepping up as successor to these empty thrones, there sits no one. The charisma, star quality, artistic genius, and quality of material in the entertainment industry have left much to be desired. The wells of “old school” heart and appreciation for the arts in their purest forms are running dry. Can you remember the last time someone was deemed a true legend? Who, in this millennial generation, can be thought of as a replacement for any legends recently lost? Take David Bowie and Prince for instance. And who would be chosen for Wes Craven? For Joan Rivers or Whitney Houston? There is a noticeable decline in the originality of the work produced in the 21st century. Everything comes from a book, is a sequel or reboot, or has been auto-tuned to the point of sonic anguish. With so many advancements in technology, the amount of labor expended to create and mold a sound or image has become miniscule, especially in comparison to the time-consuming effort involved in much earlier times. These conveniences minimize the need for one to do their homework in regard to the art being created. An immersion in information builds passion and gratitude that is translated in the work produced. In this world of billions, sounds and images are being shared with the young. From decades past, from the inception of that particular style, this history is planting the seeds of inspiration.

What we now need is a resurgence of enthusiasts for the countless filmmakers and musicians currently struggling because they care little about the bottom line and would die for their art. The kind of artists and supporters who aren’t working for likes, shares, or downloads, but rather because they’ve devoted everything to creating and nothing else will feel the same. We need more people who love their work as if it were a best friend or child, who’ll protect it from artificiality and insincerity. And, who will press every allowable ounce of passion into it so that audiences get palpable waves of the soul expended to create it. Blockbuster ticket sales and Platinum status have become more important than quality of content, with marketability reigning supreme over substance. While music and film production companies do exist that want to create genuine art, they are relegated to the background because they aren’t afforded the same funding, connections, or air time as more capital driven brands. It’s companies like IFC Films, Concord Music Group, and Click Play Films etc. trying to return content and quality to the production industry. There’s still hope for entertainment. What it needs to flourish, as it has in the past, are curators and audiences not willing to settle for the latest trend or the easiest moneymaker. What it needs, is a hero with a young mind and an old soul.

A New ‘Formation’ in Music Video Production

Gone are the days of waiting in long lines for the release of your favorite artist’s new album. With the advent of apps like iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify, the need for tangible music media has become nearly obsolete. Then along came video streaming. This platform of media dispensing has quickly become the leading method artists use to connect with their audiences. Be it daily blog-style posts or the latest music videos, fans can now have direct and immediate access to their favorite artists 24/7. We as an audience, in today’s technological age, are primarily visual creatures. When we listen to music, we immediately create images in our mind that either follow the story from the song’s lyrics or correspond to a memory or feeling evoked by the tune. Out of this imagination machine has come a new style of dispensing music to the masses; this style is called a “visual album,” and has been reintroduced to the public with the release of Beyoncé’s, Lemonade. The video production quality of this ‘visual album’ borders on theatrical and incorporates styles of typical vibrant music videos and dark art-house cinema.

Though many may say that this is a first for music video production, there have been two distinct and iconic musical artists that have had similar visual adaptations of their audio albums. The first, and still to this day influential and relevant, is Pink Floyd’s The Wall album. Director Alan Parker, was able to take the entire album and transform it into a masterpiece of artistic imagery and sonic innovation. The videos follow the storyline of the album, but throw out the notion that each scene should be a literal enactment of the lyrics. Parker takes us through the psychedelic turbulence of Pink’s anguish in a way that pulls the audience into the story rather than leaving them on the sidelines.

Similar in style but more theatrical than The Wall and Lemonade, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker utilizes his Bad album to set the stage for a dangerous adventure against drug dealer, Mr. Big, played by Joe Pesci. Though the production quality is more major studio than art-house, director, Jerry Kramer uses the combination of album audio and visual action to play out Bad’s story in its entirety. There are standard song and dance/performance components as well as scripted dialogue and action, an area where both The Wall and Moonwalker deviate from Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

As technology continues to advance, video will become the standard for album releases. Video production quality and content will have more of an impact on the reception of music by audiences, as they will now have an immediate opportunity to see an artist’s total visual concept rather than getting it piecemeal. Video has truly killed the radio star, but it may not necessarily be for the worst.

Taking Content to Heart

Tears flow, tissues are pulled, sitting on the edge of your seat, sweat pours. The content of a video can elicit strong emotion or evoke the need for a product that transcends all fiscal responsibility or logic. Advertisers and content creators want to avoid the pitfalls of creating stale or “manufactured” subject matter; the kind of material that leaves the viewer feeling like they’ve wasted time they’ll never get back, or leaves them with a bad taste for the company in general. What steps should one take to make quality content? The first step is to depict genuine emotion and show the viewer real human spirit and experience. Viewers want to be engaged in the story and the have their interest peaked. Marketers want the viewers to be drawn to their client’s product and to build a brand for the company. The quality of the content produced needs to be true to the demographic to which it is aimed. Today’s consumers are no longer easily fooled by visual gimmicks, especially when the product has more than a material quality. Click Play Films is one company that has made its name through quality content that adds an emotional aspect not always seen from video production teams. Even when the content for the client is traditional (i.e. interview/B-roll video), CPF puts passion into the material to connect the client, the audience, and the production team, as demonstrated in CPF’s video for FriendsofRockaway.org:

There have been many commercials in years past that exude the kind of emotion that may have felt heavy-handed back then, but now, would be the kind of sentiment for which consumers yearn.

Researchers have found a correlation between the content of videos and the decision making process of the audience after viewing it. Negative content causes the audience to close-off their want for the material being presented, while positive content inspires strategic decision making. Companies who focus on what sets their product above others, rather than painting a bleak picture of the competition, have more success reaching with their audience base. Negative content leads consumers to feel alienated and angry, marginalizing them to a certain style of living or suggesting that they are not worthy of the product being offered. A studio sized budget is not needed to create quality, emotive, and engaging content. All that is required is a desire to reach the audience in a positive way, with sincere, heartfelt, mentally stimulating material.