Monday, October 26, 2009

Experience MuchMusic's Much On Demand 360° LIVE

WATCH MOD 360° LIVE @ 5:00pm EST (2:00pm PT) EVERY WEEKDAY
Have you ever been part of a studio audience for the taping of your favorite TV show? Neither have I, but I would enjoy seeing what goes on behind the camera during The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or Saturday Night Live, but I live a long way from New York.

Well, fans who live a long way from Toronto where Canada's MuchMusic tapes Much On Demand, a show very similar to MTV's Total Request Live, can now tune in LIVE online to a 360° Video feed from the set. Viewers can watch their favorite VJs and celebrity guests or just people watch as the show goes out to its Canadian and worldwide audience. It's not a purely voyeuristic experience either.

With a social media live discussion running alongside the interactive video experience, MOD fans can join the discussion among other viewers of the 360° cam via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or Yahoo. Last week, an MOD audience member sat close to the Immersive Media camera, blocking much of the view for a few minutes (picture above). Facebook commenters bombarded the feed, asking him to move. During the next commercial break, a production crew member could be seen coming from the wings and directing him to another seat. Celebrations among the Facebookers ensued and quickly returned to who was the best VJ on MuchMusic. Looks like the MOD crew was paying close attention to what their audience was saying and responding accordingly.

A few weeks ago, MuchMusic also provided a 360° video feed for a Billy Talent concert (see previous post).

The MOD 360° LIVE cam has been a daily component of the MuchMusic online experience for the past weeks, but is not loading for me as I type this post at 2:00pm PT. It may have been an experiment for the music network since no press release has come out yet, but it did provide a glimpse into a future where a diversity of content delivery methods are bundled to get passionate audiences engaging through multiple technologies.

One Facebook commenter admitted to skipping school to get on the new 360° cam. With direct evidence of audience interest like that, I think it's safe to assume that the experiment is a success.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Microsoft's "Street View" in 360° Video?

Yes, video is better than still imagery. Yes, Google Map's Street View started out as Immersive Media's 360° Video. Yes, Google had good reason not to invest in the bandwidth that Street View in 360° Video would have required when they rolled it out in the spring of 2007. All of this is true, but what if a Street View-like application was launched using 360° Video instead of still imagery? What would it look like? How should it be implemented?

"Clearly no one would want to sit through a twenty minute video to prepare for a twenty minute drive...", states the narrator, who goes on to describe how a logical user interface has been built with the ancient secrets of common sense and fast forward.

Microsoft's application, as described at the ACM event, User Interface Science and Technology (UIST) 2009, and titled Integrated Videos and Maps for Driving Directions, provides an excellent visualization that will help us avoid getting lost on the way to our destination as much as Google Maps Street View has been helping us recognize our destination when we have arrived.

Score one for Bing.

Due credit for authors Billy Chen and Boris Neubert and Eyal Ofek and Oliver Deussen and Michael Cohen

Monday, October 12, 2009

MuchMusic Presents Billy Talent LIVE 360° Video!

Something happened in the world of music yesterday that just may have changed everything.

In celebration of Canada's Thanksgiving, MuchMusic held another of its Live in the Lot concert series near its offices in downtown Toronto. Featuring Canadian rockers, Billy Talent, this concert was free to anyone over 14 years old and owned a Rogers Mobile phone. It was broadcast on CTV's MuchMusic, but it was also broadcast LIVE online in 360° video so the online viewers had a seat on stage between lead singer Ben Kowalewicz and bassist Jon Gallant.

With Immersive Media's 360° video camera visible to TV cameras on stage and multiple references to MuchMusic's Live In The Lot 360° website, viewers were able to tune in for a look around on stage for the entire hour long performance.

The experience was really very cool and marks the first time an event of any magnitude has been streamed LIVE in 360° video. Here are some screen grabs from the 360° camera mashed to some twitter posts it garnered and quotes from the show:
@justinerdman: My friends @muchmusic have THE coolest 360 degree video streaming happening here: for the Billy Talent Live In The Lot!
@ThatsSoLope: Dude the 360 camera for the Billy Talent show is insane! Sooo cool Ben Kowalewicz gets up close and personal with the online audience, "This is a 365 degree camera aimed right at my crotch. It's a World Wide Ball View!" Days in a year...Degrees in a circle...whatever...Thanks for the shout out, Ben.

So, that's the good stuff. Now, here are the bad and the ugly, because there is always room for improvement, people. The stream was mentioned to be freezing on many users' computers, probably low user bandwidth, but still. The sound was really pretty bad for a music show, although that could just be Billy Talent's music, I'm not really sure. The new Immersive Media live player rolled out for this event is an excellent experience because it shows the full image available to the viewer while focusing on the viewer-selected portion, and it has the much needed full-screen option. The only problem there was that the full screen option highlights the poor resolution and becomes a bit sticky when navigating.

All in all, this show was a break-through that can only be matched (and possibly surpassed) by having multiple 360° video cameras on stage and in the crowd at an event that the viewer can choose between (See MATIvision Rocks!)
Congrats to MuchMusic, Immersive Media, Billy Talent, and Canadian Music fans for an incredible online experience.

Now, let's see some more!