‘Clouds’: A documentary of new media artists

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Microsoft’s new technology transforms your room into a video game

In an unprecedented and long-awaited move, Microsoft has patented a new gaming console that blends projector and Xbox/Kinect technology to take the video game environment literally outside the box and into your home.  The patent should serve to keep Google’s competing Interactive Spaces project at bay, a project that also uses projection and cameras to map locations and movement using blob-tracking.  The console, being touted as Xbox 720/Kinect V2, projects the 360 degree video game display onto all four of your walls, encompassing you in the game and making your room into the game environment.  It tracks furniture positions and adjusts the projection to visually eliminate them from the environment.

Thanks to science, we are one step closer to creating the Holodeck.   I’m so excited that this is happening in my lifetime.  I think it’s something that every gamer has dreamed of at least once in his or her childhood.  The project is estimated to be under construction for another few years.  In the meantime, you can start working on your startle response so you don’t wet yourself when Left 4 Dead’s Hunter pops out from behind your bed.

Here’s some more technical context for the ‘Immersive Display Experience”  (Source: US Patent via WP7’s site.)

A data-holding subsystem holding instructions executable by a logic subsystem is provided. The instructions are configured to output a primary image to a primary display for display by the primary display, and output a peripheral image to an environmental display for projection by the environmental display on an environmental surface of a display environment so that the peripheral image appears as an extension of the primary image.

An interactive computing system configured to provide an immersive display experience within a display environment, the system comprising: a peripheral input configured to receive depth input from a depth camera; a primary display output configured to output a primary image to a primary display device; an environmental display output configured to output a peripheral image to an environmental display; a logic subsystem operatively connectable to the depth camera via the peripheral input, to the primary display via the primary display output, and to the environmental display via the environmental display output; and a data-holding subsystem holding instructions executable by the logic subsystem to: within the display environment, track a user position using the depth input received from the depth camera, and output a peripheral image to the environmental display for projection onto an environmental surface of the display environment so that the peripheral image appears as an extension of the primary image and shields a portion of the user position from light projected from the environmental display.

[0002] An immersive display environment is provided to a human user by projecting a peripheral image onto environmental surfaces around the user. The peripheral images serve as an extension to a primary image displayed on a primary display.

[0003] This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter. Furthermore, the claimed subject matter is not limited to implementations that solve any or all disadvantages noted in any part of this disclosure.

Source: US Patent via WP7’s site.

 

How Vimeo went Interactive with Old Spice’s “Muscle Music” Video

The latest thing to go viral is Old Spice’s “Muscle Music” video (above), where after watching an impressive display of musical flexing, users can play their own muscle-y tunes by pressing keyboard keys.  Old Spice has always had incredible advertising, but this interactive Weiden + Kennedy video brings a fresh perspective to the brand.

 Interested in how this was done, I came across The Atlantic’s interview with Abby Morgan, Vimeo’s Senior Manager of Strategic Sales Partnerships.  Here’s what The Atlantic, had to say, according to author Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg:

“Wieden came to Vimeo back in June, and together they worked with the visual effects shop The Mill to produce the spot. Asked why Wieden selected Vimeo over other video platforms, Morgan explains, ‘I think it was because we were willing to work with them throughout the entire process of ideation, creation, production … because we were willing to take the journey and step into the trenches with the creative process.’ In addition to the live video recording of Crews, the video is a composite of over 150 different elements. While the Flash player runs through the music video, it loads the interactive portion, which is ‘effectively a new player.’ The real triumph, Morgan says, was figuring out how to speed up the server-side compositing of 150 moving parts so that users could record and save their own Muscle Music videos. The process they came up with is surprisingly fast; watch the progress bar load and it just gleefully declares ‘COMPUTER STUFF HAPPENING!'” (The Atlantic)

Source: The Atlantic

 

Heineken Didn’t Think Lego-like Beer Bottles Were Cool 50 years ago

 

I don’t know many adults who feel “too old” to play with LEGOS, but if that sounds like you, check out Heineken’s beer bottle building bricks from 1963.  You can’t get your hands on one now–they only made it to a prototype phase– but it’s worth reading how Alfred “Freddy” Heineken attempted to eradicate homelessness with the invention of these stackable bottles. See below for pictures of real houses built using the Heineken World Bottle “WOBO” blocks.

Reposted from Laughing Squid:

“In 1963, Alfred “Freddy” Heineken visited the Caribbean island of Curaçao and noted two issues: the lack of building materials for the island’s lower class and the excess of bottles littering their beaches. In response, he connected with Dutch architect N. John Habraken and the Heineken WOBO (World Bottle) was invented. The WOBO is a Heineken-branded beer bottle that doubles as a stackable, self-aligning and interlocking brick made for building eco-homes. One thousand WOBO bricks would be needed to make a simple 10 X 10 foot structure. According to Wikipedia, almost every bottle has been destroyed and only two remaining WOBO structures exist “and they are both on the Heineken estate in Noordwijk, near Amsterdam…””

 

And last but not least, Laughing Squid brought up that Heineken actually did revisit their rectangular roots, but for saving fridge space rather than saving the poor and homeless (and possibly alcoholic): meet the 2008 Heineken cube.

 

All images from Laughing Squid.

 

 

 

Interactive Vending Machine Reveals how low People Will go for Free Food

I’ve got mixed feelings about this one: is getting people to bow down to your product the most awesome thing ever, or just plain humiliating?  Personally, I’m embarrassed for all of the people in the video below.  Except for the grandmotherly lady who takes the initiative and hits the button 100 times for her free rice snack.

So what is this thing? It’s Australia’s Fantastic Delites new marketing campaign produced by Clemenger BBDO called “How far will you go for Fantastic Delites?”  As you’ll see below, people go very far indeed.  Dancing, literally getting on their knees and bowing to the machine, doing the chicken dance, pressing the button 100, 1000, and even 5000 times–it’s degradation at its best.  For rice snacks. RICE snacks, people! Does that even sound worth it to you?  For better or for worse, our opinions actually don’t matter because the video shows that type of marketing to be effective –just look at all the crowds!  I think a major part of the appeal is just that–it draws a crowd and attracts attention.  People stop what they are doing to watch another human make a fool of his or herself.  And then of course they become curious, what is this thing, what’s it for, who is Fantastic Delites, and maybe I want one.

This is a fantastic example of interactivity in marketing.  It’s pushing the limits of human-machine interaction, all while making a name for Fantastic Delites not just at its location, but around the world because of that video.  I’m impressed.  And slightly repulsed.  But mostly impressed.

Source: AdWeek

Women who Help Other Women are Smarter, not Harder

Pictured: Margaret Moth, New Zealand’s first female television news camera operator.

Last night I went to a Women in Film-Chicago event where Ruth Ratny, creator of Reel Chicago, spoke about women helping other women.  What follows are my thoughts on helping other women and breaking down the barriers that prevent gender equality in the film and media industries.

“We need to work smarter, not harder,” Ruth explained in relation to women surpassing males in the workplace.  This is true; a “hard” woman will shut out other women to protect her own position, prevent them from excelling, and ultimately, be a cog in the wheel that is our patriarchal culture.  A “smart” woman will not fear an up-and-coming industry star–in fact, she will encourage her, mentor her, or at the very least, be a helping hand.

Ruth noted that while men hire their “buddies,” women shut out other women out of insecurity.  These insecurities are possessed by all victims of the 2012 economy but are exacerbated by a predominantly female desire to overcompensate for our heightened emotional intelligence–an emotional intelligence that, in the professional field, can be perceived as weakness.

As a woman, I do not believe that emotional intelligence suggests weakness; on the contrary. Emotional intelligence is a valuable skill that allows you to read body language, mannerisms, and tone of voice.  This is a vital skill in the professional field, and trains you in the art of “perfect timing.”  Yes, it’s likely women possess this skill set as an adaptation to motherhood; mothers read their children in order to find out what they need before they can even speak!  The skill surpasses the infant stage and continues through teenage years when the kid at risk of sheer stupidity.  At this time, it is the mother’s duty to read her teenager, understand his/her inner turmoil, and do her best to prevent him/her from getting into a sticky situation that could impact the rest of his/her life.

If you have ever been in a relationship with a woman, this situation should sound familiar:

Man: “What’s wrong?”

Woman: “Nothing.”

Ask yourself: what is upsetting the woman in the above conversation, given the context?  If your answer is “nothing,” then congratulations–you are a man.  You live in a world where your receive preferential treatment in every vein.  However, you may also consider yourself emotionally-retarded.  Being able to see past the surface of words to the meaning behind those words is a skill that the grand majority of woman possess and a minority of men possess.

Being a man, you may expect the woman to verbalize exactly how she feels.  However, that is simply not the female way.  And why should we conform to the male way?  Just as we women cannot expect men to understand our words are often spoken in code, men cannot expect women to speak exactly that which they mean.  So there needs to be some kind of compromise here.

Why do I mention all that in the scope of women in the workplace?  I don’t know, it just seemed relevant. It’s not just men who get fed up with speaking in code; its women as well!  Women can turn on other women for this fact of life; I’m sure we’ve all heard some female, at some point, say: “Ugh, I hate girls. All of my friends are guys.”  All cards on the table-I’ve even said that before, and it was a lapse in judgment.  To all the women who say that now: congratulations! You enjoy spending time around people who are nice to you because they want to have sex with you.  If you surround yourself with people like this, ultimately you will find yourself cold and alone.

From an evolutionary perspective, being able to befriend women is a huge advantage.  In groups, you are protected, and I’m just talking pure “safety in numbers” right now.  Show up at a bar alone and men will think you’re there for them; show up with a posse, and most men will be too intimidated to bother you with sexual advances.  Get rejected by a lone woman and you may try again–hey, what’s she gonna do about it?  But get rejected by a woman with four female friends, and you’ll receive five dirty looks that’ll shame you out of the bar.

Furthermore, befriending women has an empowering effect on all women, for in numbers, you also have power.  To divide women is to disarm women, the same way that to unite men is to create an army.  We have many divisive forces in American society: the fashion industry, women’s magazines, advertising, and hypersexualized female characters in film and tv serve to undermine real women’s success every day.  For women working within these industries, such as myself, your moral beliefs can be put at odds with the task at hand–after all, sex sells, but what woman really wants to sell sex?  As Ruth Ratny discussed, a key difference between men and women is that men monetize everything.  For men, everything is about money.  A male advertising executive will sell sex and see dollar signs while a woman will sell sex and see the destruction and ostracism of a gender.

Take this classic beer commercial as an example:

 A man sitting at a bar turns his head to see a thin, beautiful, made-up woman strutting towards him with the beer of choice.  Male takeaway: “hot women and beer-yes please!”  Female takeaway: “how can I become as desirable as this woman?” Or even worse: “I am irrelevant because the only thing that matters is an appearance I do not posses.” This is a HUGE problem, because here you have a woman reading a man-made commercial in code when it was originally written, and meant to be read, in plain english.  Women code and decode everything; it is in our nature, it protects us from making poor decisions and choosing untrustworthy partners.  I consider this coding process the infamous “female intuition”; it is an energy flow that stays with me 24/7, that I have trained myself to be in touch with, and that I always, always trust.  I have not once regretted following this “intuition.”  The trick- and this is pivotal for compromising language with men– is to recognize which situations require this sort of decoding and coding.  Both men and women can and should know this about the opposite gender.

I digress.  As it is, there are so many things to consider when it comes to gender roles as they exist, let alone how they play out in the advertising and media industries.  My head fills up with these considerations constantly as I go through my life, my career, and my relationships.  For every question answered, a new question springs up.  It’s impossible to answer all the questions in one lifetime.  It’s impossible to try to absorb answers from those who lived before you, because real knowledge comes only from experience. So we’re stuck in a bit of a catch 22…but hope is not lost! Read on for the moral of my story.

There is only one takeaway from this conversation that is absolute and concrete: You, a smart woman, will help other women. You will not judge nor criticize them for their womanhood.  Other smart women will respect that, respect you, and in turn help other women climb the professional ranks.  The more women in power there are, the more they can help other women, and the more likely women are in general to take each other and themselves more seriously.  And it goes on-the more women take themselves and other women seriously, the more men will take women seriously because they can see our confidence and self-assuredness.  And there you have it–men are no longer hiring “buddies” over capable women.  You mustn’t harden yourself, and you MUST “smart-en” yourself.  Get smart, ladies.  If you’re a woman in power, look for female ambition around you.  I guarantee you will find it in every corner.

Interactive Web Show “Dirty Work” Makes You Partner In Crime

It seems like the new interactive web show “Dirty Work” will stop at nothing to get you to pay attention, calling your phone, texting you, emailing, and Facebooking you at pivotal moments throughout the series.  Though it sounds overwhelming, it’s not–the show’s creators were inspired by the fact that we’re always fiddling with our smartphones and tablets while watching television anyway, and managed to bring all of these forms of communication together in “Dirty Work.”  The show follows a group of comedic 20-something year olds who work the night shift cleaning up bloody crime scenes.

Viewers can watch the show at Fourth Wall’s Rides.tv website, and if they log in, they will receive all sorts of various-platformed messages while watching the show.  Apparently Fourth Wall will debut 8-10 similarly styled shows later this year.  As Angela Watercutter of WIRED Magazine writes:

“Interactive bits like having characters call you to share their inner monologues becomes a welcome bonus. You might receive a text message sent by a character in the show (often with clues others in the scene may not be privy to) or get an e-mail from the Bio-Tidy company the main characters work for. As viewers interact more with the platform, they can be rewarded with unseen clips.

Because Dirty Work is entirely web-based (as are the other shows on Fourth Wall’s upcoming slate), the new series is not beholden to standard TV schedules. Even though Rides.tv is intended as a platform for the studio’s shows, the creators said the website could be pimped out to other networks that want to add its features to standard television programs.

If the concept takes off, actors and actresses may soon have to work on their methods. Actress Clayton, who plays Michelle on Dirty Work and notes that the show’s interactive 911 call “scared the shit out of me,” said the interactive elements of the show lead to scripts unlike any she’s ever seen before.

‘I remember when I first got the script, I had to read it three different times before I finally understood what was happening — it was hilarious,’ Clayton said. ‘Literally, you’re reading it and it’s like, ‘Viewer’s phone will ring,’ and I was like, ‘What?!’'” (WIRED)

I think this means exciting things for interactive television and web shows–mostly because it is employing alternate reality games as a method for interactivity (like NIN did with Year Zero).  After all, this is just an alternate reality game that takes place only within the time of the show (as far as I know–I have yet to watch an episode! It’s on my to-do list.)

Source:WIRED

Webby Awards 2012 Showcase Best Interactive Websites

The 2012 Webby Awards showcase some of world’s best, most innovative media projects. Check out my favorites below, browse their websites, and participate!  Each of the following projects was nominated for an Interactive Webby Award in one of the following areas: Augmented Reality, Banner Campaigns, Banner Singles, Best Copywriting, Best Integrated Media Plan, Best use of Online Media, Best use of Social Media, and … ok there are quite a few more, but I think you get the point (or a full list of these categories click here).

“The Inside Experience”  Interactive Advertising Campaign for Intel and Toshiba

SPENT – Interactive Advertising for Urban Ministries of Durham by McKinney

Red Bull Formula Face” – Video Game Advertising for Red Bull by Buzzed Monkey

This one is a favorite – I bet Mario Kart makers are kicking themselves for not doing it first.  You control your gokart’s movements by small facial movements. And you were wondering why your coworker is making strange expressions today…

Dear 16 Year Old Me – David Cornfield Melanoma Fund Advertising by Evidently

Androp “Bell” – Interactive Music Video

I’m a huge fan of interactive music videos, even though I was awful at the above mentioned game.  Which brings us to the point where it’s necessary to mention Biophilia, Bjork’s interactive album that, being an app, is the first of its kind.  I have yet to actually download and try out the app, so more on that later.  For now, you can have a taste of the interaction by going to Bjork’s site: http://bjork.com/.

“The Chase” Nexus Productions by Smith & Foulkes

“It will never be the same” – SOMA by Proximity Colombia

As a way to make marketing and promo emails more relevant, SOMA created 15 hours of music, art, and technology in an email.  As a result of their interactive emails, more emails were opened than before and way many more links were clicked in those emails.  Good job guys for making spam more fun to read!

All of these projects lead me to ask a question: what is the difference between entertainment and advertising in the 21st century?  The line begins to blur…think about it. What are you selling, and what do people actually want?  Can you make them the same?

Try Googling “Zerg Rush” for an Interactive Google Experience…

This morning my brother told me to google “zerg rush,” which, to anyone who doesn’t play Starcraft, means complete gibberish.  Still unsure if it was work-friendly or if Zerg was a word for some kind of freaky porn, I decided to take the risk and do it anyway.  For the ladies in the house who don’t dork out on the regsies: zerg rush is a Starcraft reference for battling insectoids.

When you google ‘zerg rush,’ the O’s from Google’s logo launch an attack on your search results, eating them up unless you have extraordinary index finger strength to click them all away before they do any damage.  Even if this is true, you will still lose, I don’t care how good you are at Starcraft.  When the deed is done, you have the option to submit, share, and compare your score with others.

This is the first instance of interactive search engines that I’ve ever seen, and it means exciting things for the future.  What if you were to launch a completely interactive search engine?  What is the intention and reward from doing this?  Well, in Google’s case, it does a few things: 1. They’ve pioneered the interactive search engine style, claiming it as theirs. 2. They will draw even more people to their site while this goes viral, attracting fringe audiences, gamers, and nerds. 3. They can test out interaction on google to see how well it does, how many people it draws, and as a result, it serves as a prototype for future interactive implementation. So, it could and probably will be a huge moneymaker for them.

Google didn’t really need to test this out, since it’s pretty obvious that adding interactivity to any commercial product will take you straight to the bank.  We can’t help it-we’re a curious species and we’ve been wanting to push random buttons since we were toddlers (how often did you argue with siblings over who gets to push the elevator button…?). But I’m glad they did, because they are giving us a taste of what’s yet to come, and I can’t wait to see more.

If you’re still reading this and you haven’t googled Zerg Rush yet, what’s wrong with you?? Go do it! Get ready and click here.

3 Sweet Adventurous Video Games for 2012

1. Botanicula (release: April 19, 2012)

Very much like Limbo, adventure game Botanicula takes you on a journey through beautiful scenery, challenging puzzles, and heartless adversaries.  It’s a follow-up from Machinarium, and is to be released April 19 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Gorgeous animation makes it all the more fun:

2. Closure (available for purchase)

Closure reminds me even more of Limbo (have I played that too much?) in its high contrast, black-and-white aesthetic adventure style.  What’s so creative about it is that your environment is based on your light source; where there is darkness, there is literally nothingness. Solve all the puzzles, and don’t fall!

3. Journey (released March 2012)

This adventure game for PS3 strikes a balance between the Final Fantasy series and Okami, but with a subtler, more introspective tone.  That Game Company describes it as this:

“Faced with rolling sand dunes, age-old ruins, caves and howling winds, your passage will not be an easy one. The goal is to get to the mountaintop, but the experience is discovering who you are, what this place is, and what is your purpose.”

Watch the trailer below to get excited:

Sources: Kotaku, That Game Company