The core skill of filmmaking is already being used in developing the metaverse through AR and VR
Metaverse has quickly worked its way into the Hollywood lexicon as the idea, starting as science fiction but now evolving into an attainable aspiration that companies are racing to bring to reality. The metaverse in its fully-fledged form does not yet exist, but many “proto” metaverses are available today for reference (think of video game platforms). In the most fundamental of terms, the metaverse will likely leverage web 3.0 technology to support real-time 3-D rendered simulations of real-life on a mass scale. Practically speaking, this means the metaverse, or metaverses, will be a shared virtual space where people will be able to gather, interact, work and play, all in real-time.
One commonly held view is that people will reach a stage where all will simply step into the metaverse, never to be seen again. That is a complete mischaracterization of the nature of the metaverse. What’s far more likely is that all will move freely between reality and the metaverse in gradual and tiny steps, and all will still be in their conventional, familiar reality most of the time. People will still watch TV, and will probably go to some form of cinema. We will no more “live inside” the metaverse than we will live inside our TVs. You may sometimes find metaverse experiences more immersive than watching a film, but so is bungee jumping.
Meanwhile, most metaverse activity will take place away from the entertainment arena – in retail, commerce, medicine, engineering, scientific research, manufacturing, and sports analysis.
Finally, every screen – even an old-fashioned OLED 4K TV – is a window into the metaverse. So if you are going to watch films in the new 3D, the interconnected universe, you are probably going to watch them on a virtual screen, in 2D.
2020 has been a difficult year for most entertainment brands. The film and television industry started looking at an estimated US$160 billion loss over the next 5 years, according to market research firm Ampere Analysis. Numerous sporting events and concerts were postponed or outright canceled. Disney said the pandemic cost its parks, experiences, and products segment around US$2.4 billion in lost operating income during Q4. Even with promising vaccines on the horizon, recovery could still be spotty and winding, especially for the theatrical sector where audience behavior may have changed for good.
One bright spot may be the growth of streaming service usage, as the lack of live sports earlier this year pushed some households to turn to stream services. But according to expert estimations, the OTT-dominant model may be a less profitable way to monetize content than the conventional pay-TV model. So there will be a need to figure out new revenue streams to supplement the profitability gap while the industry undergoes a business model shakeup. That’s where the developing metaverse comes in.
The metaverse is a space created on the internet that uses 3-D virtual environments. While it is still in its infancy, the metaverse involves integration between virtual and physical spaces. So people interacting in this environment will be able to create their avatar or character that represents them, place that avatar in a virtual space, manipulate them with hardware like VR tools and effectively live a life in this space that includes consuming a variety of art forms and visual entertainment – including films.
The metaverse that Meta is currently developing will likely use a motion capture system, such as the Oculus, to allow players to explore the online space and interact with user-generated content.
Filmmaking can exist and be incorporated into this future online world. But also, the core skill of filmmaking, which is visual communication, is already being used in developing the metaverse, whether through virtual reality, augmented reality, or gaming.
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