Happy Friday! Welcome to Issue 48 of Rerun, your weekly digest of digital storytelling, interactive media and the future of TV curated by Axonista.
This week's Top Pick is MacRumors' rich survey of Apple's move towards VR and AR, along with an overview of all the main players and technologies.
We have PewDiePie growing up, up and away from YouTube and SnapChat joining the big league in a partnership with Viacom.
In gaming news, we see lots of expansion into new media territories with EA games moving into eSports, Amazon's free development engine Lumberyard and Titanfall 2's TV series tie-in. We review the live streaming efforts by NASA, Vox and Fusion as well as infamous P2P platform BitTorrent.
And, finally, we end with the revelation that The Simpson’s was well ahead of the VR curve, accurately predicting some of the VR experiences emerging today.
Let's get straight to it!
Apple's secret work on virtual and augmented reality
"It's really cool." Tim Cook's understated reference to VR has been taken as a sign that Apple are very interested in it. In fact, and as this article suggests, Apple are very invested, having acquired over the past number of years technologies, patents, companies and talent that point directly at augmented and virtual reality.
This article is one of the best AR and VR overviews we've read at Rerun; one that outlines AR, VR and the differences between, as well as the various applications, technologies and companies involved. For those looking for a bird's eye view of what's going on in the world of AR and VR, this is great read.
Can PewDiePie grow up without alienating his fans?
Most of YouTube's big stars like PewDiePie and the Fine Brothers were formed on the back of relatability and authenticity. Just a person in their bedroom with nothing more than a camera, their personality and a very personal bond with their audience. Now that they're multi-millionaires and running media companies in offices, there's a small but growing sentiment of disconnect, frustration and sometimes even betrayal amongst their fans. How they, and YouTube, handle this transition will prove key to the future of YouTube as a place where future media stars are born and made.
As Hank Green, one half of the Vlog Brothers, puts it:
"Two of the big things in online video have always been relatability and authenticity. And now there is this place where it is hard to remain relatable while also remaining authentic. If I’m going to be authentic today I have to say to my audience, I’m going to work now, where I will be managing 30 employees. That’s not relatable."
Future of TV
I want my Snapchat TV
Snapchat is growing up. Its recent partnership with Viacom allows it to leverage the media giant's experienced sales force and adds credibility to Snapchat's media offering. Both factors should help accelerate its growth into a mainstream platform. This post from TV[R]EV gives great insight into why the two companies make such a logical fit.
Viacom is making a savvy move to harness this generation’s version of the Music Video star and do what they do best, build an empire around them.
BitTorrent launches first P2P live streaming app on Apple TV
BitTorrent, usually associated with video piracy, is testing out P2P live streaming on its OTT News app. It is pitching this to broadcasters as a cheaper and faster means of live streaming, since it relies on P2P online streaming rather than bandwidth-heavy systems.
BitTorrent has been testing this with US election coverage to demonstrate how it might be used by smaller production teams. It will be interesting to see whether BitTorrent can stake a claim as a legitimate, never mind improved, live streaming platform.
Amazon rolls out Lumberyard, an entirely free game development engine
This is a fantastic idea from Amazon. Give developers a free game engine without a revenue share requirement. Give them a ready made Twitch integration. Set them free to build multiplayer games that will require Amazon Web Services to support. Sell lots of AWS. Control the gaming world's infrastructure.
Great plan. However, the success of this will depend on great implementation too. Game developers will need to feel adequately supported with the tools to build incredible games with which to delight their gamers. We'll be keeping an eye on this one.
Lumberyard is entirely free, Amazon says, including no requirement to share revenue. Amazon will make money off Amazon Web Services that developers use to build or support their games. GameLift has a $1.50 per 1,000 daily active user fee, in addition to standard fees for any other Amazon Web Services used.
Could it go all the way? A look at Madden, FIFA and eSports
In the latter part of 2015, EA, the 3rd biggest gaming publisher in the world, set up a dedicated eSports & broadcasting division. It plans to turn its massively popular sports franchise games—like FIFA—into competitive eSports and own all the broadcasting surrounding it.
EA has several things going its way; direct access to some of the biggest household names in sport; exclusive gaming rights for most leagues and players; massive advertising and sponsorship allure to brands; in-house technology expertise; and of course money, with over $4.5bn in revenue last year alone. It has positioned itself perfectly to really propel eSports into the mainstream and onto your TV screens.
Titanfall 2 writer suggests TV series in the works
Bringing established video game franchises into film & TV is something you can expect to see more of from this year onwards. While film adaptations of video games are nothing new, they've rarely forayed into the TV space.
This week Jess Stern, lead writer for sci-fi shooter 'Titanfall 2' announced that he was in talks with Lionsgate to create a companion TV series alongside the release of the game. Whether it'll be a standalone series or whether it'll be a trans-media experience integrated into the game itself—like the upcoming Quantum Break—remains to be seen.
While it could also be merely a publicity effort, we think that game writers and developer have realised the real opportunities of TV when it comes to enhancing their worlds and telling stories that they can't in the games themselves.
Facebook becoming a key platform for video news publishers
Vox and Fusion have begun using Facebook's live video for news exclusives. Facebook live video allows news providers to tap into an existing market and to produce news videos quickly and with limited resources. With Facebook promoting longer video streams and both Fusion and Vox aiming to make videos of 20 minutes length, it could be that Facebook becomes a key news platform, if brands are comfortable relinquishing control to Facebook, that is.
360-degree video from NASA
Outer space has been a theme in the videos we've been looking at this week. The European Space Agency tweeted a beautiful video of a lightning storm on Earth, and NASA gave us 360- video of Mars. The Martian VR experience may have had higher production quality, but it's fair to say that NASA may have trumped this with a VR experience of actual Mars. Although, sadly, there was no Matt Damon in sight. We checked.
- Facebook's Sports Stadium had a rough Super Bowl, users flocked to Twitter to vent frustrations
- Google to go beyond Cardboard with new branded VR headset
- Twitter launches "First View": Autoplay video ads at the top of your feed
- Sky Q launches in the UK and Ireland
- Super Bowl 50 was the second most cluttered Super Bowl in history for advertising
- Forget the ‘second screen’: Mobiles now compete equally with TV for consumer attention
D'oh! Crash: The history of VR on The Simpsons
For VR nerds and fans of The Simpsons, here are all the times that VR was featured (and even somewhat accurately predicted) in episodes of the popular animated series. In 1993, Lisa dons what looks like an Oculus Rift, and in 1995, we see a VR game using Samsung Gear with a little bit of Oculus Touch thrown in for good measure.
Life imitating Bart?