The iPad Enables a New Age of Personal Cinema, Welcome to "The Feelies"
The new iPad’s combination of high resolution screen and quad-core processor is creating revolutionary possibilities for what I call “personal cinema.” Not only can you now hold full 1020p HD in your hands, but you can manipulate that video experience with your hands as well. This is just in the demonstration phase now, but it won’t be long before video makers make good on Apple’s “touch and feel” promise for this device.
Co.Design reports on a demo (see video above) developed by Berg Studio in London for Bonnier and Mag+ that, “Turns a movie into a swipeable, interactive entity on a tablet.” In the two examples shown here, you can move a 1960s Rolex around as the focal plane shifts and you can rotate a glass jar full of thread bobbins as the specular highlights move across its surface. In both cases there are powerful visual/tactile illusions at play that go way beyond the usual 360 degree zeotroping we’ve gotten used to in product demos.
Talking about the Rolex demo, Berg’s Creative Director, Timo Arnall says they used the Lytro light field camera to create the ‘tap to focus’ feature. “The lovely thing here is that we can see all of the analogue, optical qualities such as the subtle shifts in perspective as the lens elements move, and the blooming, reflection and chromatic abberations that change under our fingertips,” says Arnall, “Having this optical, cinematic language under the fine control of our fingertips feels new, it’s a lovely, playful, explorative interaction.”
For the other demo, Berg’s Chief Technical Officer, Nick Ludlam, describes how they achieved the “uncanny effect [that] you are both looking at a glass jar and touching a cold glass surface”:
Each of the scenes in the Swiping through Cinema app are made up of hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of individual images, each extracted from a piece of real-time HD video. It is the high speed manipulation of these images which creates one continuous experience, and has only become possible relatively recently.
During our time developing Mag+, we learnt a great deal about using images on tablets. With the first-generation iPad, you needed to pay careful attention to RAM use, as the system could kill your app for being excessively greedy, even after loading only a handful of photographs. We eventually created a method which would allow you to smoothly animate any number of full-screen images.
With that code in place, we moved onto establishing a workflow which would allow us to shoot footage and be able to preview it within the app in a matter of minutes. We also consciously avoided filling the screen with user interface elements, which means that the only interaction is direct manipulation of what you see on-screen.
With the Retina display on the third-generation iPad, we’re really excited by the prospect of being able to move through super crisp and detailed image sequences.
It’s not hard to imagine from these preliminary examples, ways that movies and game play could merge in tactile and synesthetic ways. For example, in a heist movie, when the safe cracker is in the vault, the viewer would have to come up with the combination based on prior clues for the action to proceed. Or when the protagonist in a fantasy movie has to rub an amulet a certain way to cast a spell, again, the viewer steps in with their own fingers. The examples created for Bonnier by Berg seem closer to advertising than cinema and you can bet that as soon as marketers can build these kind of gestural experiences into their tablet advertising without grinding the device to a halt they will jump right it.
Just as the “talkies” replaced silent pictures, high performance tablets like the new iPad will enable a new kind of intimate cinema experience—named after Aldous Huxley’s fictional entertainment device in Brave New World and its namesake indie band—“the feelies.”
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