Tool of North America are doing some very cool things with interactive video, like their new Touching Stories iPad app.
By touching, shaking and turning your iPad, you can navigate, unlock and reveal unexpected variations in each of these four “Touching Stories.” Shot by five different directors—and contained in one single app—these interactive, live-action, short stories evolve storytelling in ways that have never been done before on the iPad.
The iPad’s big touch screen is a much more intuitive medium for a hypervideo interactive story than a mouse or trackpad.
I’ve transcribed the voiceover from this video, below. Apart from the hype, it gives a pretty good introduction to what internet/TV convergence will start to look like.
I’ve been banging on about this for so long that you’ll have to forgive my teenage excitement about it. I was expecting this kind of device to have arrived in a big way by 2007/8. Most of it is not much more advanced than your TiVo, Sky+ or Microsoft system – but instead of their horrible clunky interfaces, this looks well thought out, with full search and web access, and a properly integrated browser. If only Apple had made their AppleTV more like this three years ago. I’m still not sure why they didn’t.
It’s long been my opinion that the way people really want to experience entertainment is on their couch, rather than on their laptops and at their desk. But I’ve found, when enthusing about this stuff over the years, that some people have had trouble imagining using the web on their TV from their couch – particularly because they’re confused about how they’ll control it. With a keyboard and mouse? A really big remote control? A Wii wand?
No doubt we’ll have to wait another pointlessly long time before internet TV systems start using the new motion-sensing videogame control systems.
I know, I know – how unbelievably boring it is to keep hearing about how it’s the future of blockbusters and TV. It all feels so 1985/1958. And the filmmaker in me knows that it’s pointless, lame, marketing-driven Hollywood tosh. I’ve been wanting to blog about this for a few weeks, but I’ve felt too ashamed.
But ever since Captain EO got his hook into me at EPCOT, I’ve always got a massive kick out of seeing movies in 3D. I’m the guy who keeps all the IMAX theatres in business. Boring spacewalks – in 3D! The featureless ocean floor – IN 3D! FAKE DINOSAURS – IN 3D! About 10 years ago, I tried to convince the National Film & TV School that they should let me study making drama in 3D IMAX, because it was clearly the future of blockbusters. They didn’t agree. FOOLS! Now I’ll be back there doing a short course in 3D production next month.
Meanwhile, YouTube 3-D has been quietly amassing content for the last year. You don’t need to have a special camera. Just a couple of regular cameras, some glasses, and something exciting to jump out of the screen. Like the harpoon in Jaws 3-D. I’m not sure why I haven’t started videoblogging in 3D. My shame has been getting in the way. Time to get over it. After all, surely 3D IS THE FUTURE OF VIDEOBLOGGING, RIGHT?
At the moment, we’re staring down the barrel of a very long and boring format war, where Firefox and Opera browsers will not support h.264 for use with the new HTML5 video tag because of uncertainty over its patent situation – they only support the open source Theora codec (and now WebM).
Meanwhile, Apple’s Safari browser and Internet Explorer 9 will only support h.264, not Theora.
And Google’s Chrome browser supports it all: h.264, Theora and now WebM.
So essentially, whatever format you pick, it’s incompatible with 50% of users or more.
HTML5 promises to enable us to do some very cool things with video – but it looks like instead of just being able to get stuck into playing with it, we’ll have to work around these big problems of incompatibility, depending on what format we choose to work with. It feels like Quicktime vs Windows Media vs Real all over again. We got around all that last time with Flash video. HTML5 is supposed to be the Flash killer.
The excitement revolves around the hope that WebM and its VP8 codec may deliver quality and compression to rival h.264, and will be supported by Firefox & Opera, and potentially YouTube – without the patent uncertainties and costs that h.264 has for commercial users.
Will this make a difference? Will it convince Apple & Microsoft, and gain cross-browser compatibility? Or does the arrival of a serious rival for h.264 just give many years of new life to a battle that might otherwise have been won by h.264 comparatively quickly?
Or is it just generally a good thing to have happened and I shouldn’t be looking a gift horse in the mouth?