Battle of the Smithsonian's "augmented reality"
By : Chris Tribbey | Posted: 09 Feb 2010
Some of the fourth quarter’s biggest DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases featured a bonus that can’t be found on the discs, but only on the packaging. And the company behind it is hoping they won’t be the last in home entertainment to try it.
All owners of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Star Trek and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen need is a Web cam. Visit a Web site tied into the specific release (such as www.weareautobots.com for Transformers), slide your box art in front of the webcam and watch as you activate an interactive 3D image of Optimus Prime. For Star Trek, users take a self-guided tour of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and for Battle of the Smithsonian, Rex the Dinosaur, a giant squid and Amelia Earhart’s plane pop off the box, right in front of the consumer.
Paramount and Total Immersion also hooked up for the special-edition DVD and Blu-ray release of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which triggers a 3D fight between characters.
“It was just a really interesting idea in terms of home entertainment,” said Bruno Uzzan, CEO and co-founder of Total Immersion, the company behind the software, dubbed “augmented reality.” “Our goal is hyper-realism, giving consumers something more and something new that they haven’t seen before.”
Augmented reality works by the webcam and Web site recognizing the specific cover art and popping up a 3D image that consumers can move around on-screen in real time. While all three earned high praise from both the studio partners, Paramount and Fox, Uzzan said he was partial to the Transformers experience, since “it really connected with consumers.”
“I really like all three, but that one was really interesting,” he said.
The Transformers experience also allows consumers to fix Prime’s armor, calibrate his weapons and take some target practice.
While there are no immediate plans for another home entertainment release to incorporate augmented reality, Total Immersion is proving its concept can work with most anything: The latest two augmented reality experiences work with CDs and soda.
Visit an Avatar Web site, hold up a can of Coke Zero to your webcam, and you’re flying around a helicopter featured in the film. A copy of music artist N-Dubz’ latest album, Against All Odds, will trigger a 3D set of the band interacting with the viewer and performing the single “I Need You.” For the CD concept, users can even turn the sleeve artwork around to get alternative angles, looking completely like it’s happening in the palm of their hand.
Uzzan said the technology has been more than a decade in development, and the possibilities are limitless. As for home entertainment, he hopes Fox’s reaction is indicative of all the studios.
“We launched augmented reality to great success with Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” said Mary Daily, EVP of marketing for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. “It allowed us to incorporate a fun and innovative experience into an already exciting and successful film, as well as to break the mold on what is the norm for home entertainment.”