Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Black Eyed Peas New iPhone App featuring 360° Video!



Look just about anywhere else to find out more information about the new BEP360 app. Check out TechCrunch, will.i.apps, or Twitter #BEP360 for the latest updates. The press release from the newly minted will.i.apps, a mobile app development company, is copied below. If you're hoping to learn more about the 360 degree video behind the app, then you found the right place.

On Monday, The Black Eyed Peas launched their new iPhone app. The world has been re-re-introduced to the new medium of 360 degree video. Congrats to everyone involved in the project, especially the dedicated team of engineers in Dallas that have really pulled off a real feat here despite some incredibily difficult situations over the last year or two or three.

The BEP360 app (available for $2.99 at the App Store here) was brought to you by a number of parties, will.i.am, Edo Segal of Futurity Ventures, a new company called 3D360 and, likely, a half dozen ad and pr agencies, but who shot the 360 video, and with what camera? Who developed the mobile app (which is the true tech breakthrough here)? Why can't I experience the 360 video for this project on my computer via a Flash player and embed here on the blog?

Readers will notice the name of 3D360's CEO, Myles McGovern, as the former CEO of the 360 video pioneering company, Immersive Media, which,in the last year, changed it's name to Emberclear and released Mr. McGovern of his duties. 3D360 is a joint venture of Immersive Ventures (where you can see a pretty great video of Fergie's first experience with 360 video) and Futurity Ventures (appears to be a placeholder website). 


Myles McGovern (with Craig Adkins)
applying bubble gum to the problem
 Full disclosure: I used to work for Mr. McGovern at Immersive Media and often admired his stamina when dealing with adversity. I was impressed once at a company picnic when we were trying to shoot a fun video with the camera's inventor, David McCutchen, and the camera malfunctioned. Among a group that included the head cameraman, several daily shooters, the camera's inventor, and the service team, it was Myles that saved the shoot by (and I'm not kidding here) making an electrical connection with a paper clip and chewing gum.
the bubble gum fix
Myles, David, and I in line with camera for rollercoaster

That's me upside down next to David's helmet 360 cam

Whether or not it was a good idea to put the camera on David's head for a G-force-based rollercoaster ride, is another discussion entirely.   David suffered no ill-effects from the rickety old ride in Oaks Bottom Park in Portland, OR, and it made for a great demostration video.  Unfortunately, like a lot of the good things shot for fun and profit at Immersive Media, I'm not able to share them with you as they are no longer online.  The company's website is still up, but Emberclear (the new/old parent company behind it) has been very clear about its discontinuation of operations of what it calls (rather passive aggressively) "it's camera business" and is now a "clean coal" investment firm.  I know, right?  Investors who bought in during the heady days of Immersive Media's agreement with Google to provide content for Street View were left scratching their heads as the company fell apart, the stock price plummeted then flat lined, and eventually changed names and business focus entirely. 

So, it seems that Mr. McGovern has embarked on a new venture with 3D360 and Immersive Ventures, and I wish him and the team with him continued great success, but what camera are they using?  From photos on the Immersive Ventures web site, it would seem that they shot the BEP360 video with a Ladybug 3 Spherical video camera from Point Grey Research

BEP360 appears to be powered by Immersive Ventures i360TM Player, which says it includes sample videos but lets you download and install additional media.  It also says that it creates simulated 3D for stereo viewing mode and has anaglyph 3D playback.  Both of these concepts have not been seen before.  There is a software developr's kit (SDK) for i360 that lets developers create their own iPhone apps that provide smooth playback of spherical videos on mobile devices. It supports both finger drag and motion navigation.  They also mention a desktop player for local viewing of spherical videos, but there is no mention of an online player, which may also be the reason they don't have any of their own 360 videos on their website or why there isn't an online version of the BEP360 video at blackeyedpeas.com, will.i.apps, or 3D360's site.  Seems to me that the app is worth the $3 for the "motion navigation" alone, and giving users a 360 experience online (where they still have to use the mouse) would only sell more apps, but I could be wrong.  More than likely, it's a timing call and the online version will pop up in one of these places, eventually. 
The point is that the mobile device with augmented-reality-like "motion navigation" is a great user experience with 360 degree video.  It removes the disconnect between the users eyes and the mouse and reduces the learning curve for the first-time viewer to about half a second.  Just like head-mounted display devices like vr goggles, with the mobile device, the user only has to make a gesture to look around and immediately gets the fact that they are surrounded by video content for the first time.  As you can see in the before mentioned video of Fergie being introduced to the content, the reactions are often those of amazement and excitement.  Read the comments at any place discussing 360 video for the last three years, they are overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic.  People love this stuff.

This may be the project that pushes 360 degree video out front for the critical mass of attention it has needed to gain wide-acceptance, but we have hoped for this before.  There is no doubt that with will.i.am backing mobile development in this area, and suddenly being announced as Intel's new Director of Creative Innovation that 360 video's time may very well have come.
will.i.am rocking his new Intel badge




From the Press Release:
THE BLACK EYED PEAS DEBUT IN WORLD’S FIRST 360-DEGREE MOBILE MUSIC VIDEO CREATED BY will.i.apps
New ‘BEP360’ App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch Takes Fans Inside “The Time (Dirty Bit)” with 360-Degree Motion Control and Augmented Reality Developed by Peas Front Man will.i.am

LOS ANGELES January 24, 2010 - Music industry pioneer and front man of The Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am, today announced the iTunes App Store launch of BEP360, an iPad, iPhone and iPod touch app that immerses fans in a 360 degree universe of the legendary music group. Featuring the world’s first 360-degree view music video (“The Time 360”), BEP360 features the song “The Time (Dirty Bit),” the first single from new CD, “The Beginning”, now available on Interscope Records.

BEP360 is the first release from will.i.apps, will.i.am’s new digital media production entity dedicated to pioneering and producing application-based entertainment experiences. BEP360is the first in a line of upcoming applications that will converge the worlds of creativity, music and advanced digital technologies.

Thirty years after the first music video aired on MTV, the will.i.apps team has reinvented how fans can be further immersed in the world of their favorite artists by pointing and swinging an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad around a 360-degree axis that then changes the point of view. An entirely new form of music video, BEP360 uses digital teleportation to take fans deeper inside the world of The Black Eyed Peas. A demo of BEP360 app featuring The Black Eyed Peas and the making-of behind the scenes video can be seen at: http://www.williapps.com.

“will.i.apps and the BEP360 app have been established to help artists tap into the potential of our hyper-connected mobile world and bring fans deeper inside the music far beyond a four minute audio
recording. It’s a unique and completely new way to experience 360 degree music immersion that will bring artists and fans closer together,” said will.i.am.

Key Features of BEP360

•Point iPad, iPhone and iPod touch device at the cover artwork of the band’s latest album, The Beginning (Interscope Records) and watch augmented reality take form with BEP avatars dancing to the beat
•Direct a virtual photo session with Fergie, will.i.am, apl.de.ap &Taboo allowing users to capture their own shots and share them.
•Stay up to date on everything about the Peas via an aggregated Twitter feed
•Play an addictive Peas-inspired puzzle game
•View pictures and comments posted by other BEP360 app users on a virtual earth

The BEP360 app is available for $2.99 from the App Store on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, or at www.bit.ly/bep360app.

will.i.apps partnered with Metaio to facilitate the cutting edge augmented reality experience bringing the Peas into the fans world. 3D360, the technology leader in 3D360 video was also part of the team that pioneered this ground breaking platform allowing capture, and then play back of the unique 360 degree video. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to allow fans to get closer to The Black Eyed Peas and realize will.i.am’s vision of the first mobile 3D360 music video,” commented 3D360 CEO Myles McGovern.

About will.i.apps
will.i.apps (http://www.williapps.com) is a digital media company focused on delivering ground- breaking entertainment applications for mobile devices. Co-founded by music industry pioneer, producer and
The Black Eyed Peas front man will.i.am and Edo Segal of Futurity Ventures, a New York-based Innovation Engine, will.i.apps partners with leading artists to bring their creative universes to life by embracing the power of mobile apps. Fans can also visit www.blackeyedpeas.com/apps to learn about futureBEP360 apps.

# # #

Media Contacts:
Rogers & Cowan for will.i.apps
Sallie Olmsted
310-854-8124
solmsted@rogersandcowan.com Interscope
Hillary Siskind
212-841-8055
hillary.siskind@umusic.com

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