December 2018

Is It Really Real

Really Real Really Real Really Real Really Real Really Real Really Real Text: Oliver Georgiou Images: Etcetc

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away Princess Leia was beamed out of R2D2’s head in holographic form and we all went “Wow, that is the future”.

Since then, augmented reality has been slowly creeping into our lives; we’ve experienced it during live sports telecasts where advertising logos and scores are superimposed onto playing fields and lines indicate ball and play directions. It’s also been on the rise in the gaming world, as well as having many uses in mobile content. Augmented reality was also utilised during the recent USA Presidential election with CNN’s Virtual View camera system, superimposing newsreaders and Will.I.Am were into the newsroom with up-to-date election information.

Subsequently, Sydney band Lost Valentinos, have announced the world’s first truly interactive augmented reality music video project. Conceived by Etcetc and developed by Crucial By Design and production crew Pedestrian, now we all have a chance to try our hand at a bit of music video production using AR in the comfort of our own homes. Oliver Georgiou had a chat with director Andrew Jackson to find out what it was all about.


Oliver Georgiou: Can you give us a basic idea of how augmented reality works?

Andrew Jackson: Augmented reality (AR) works by overlaying digital imagery in a realtime view of a user’s world. In this case, you can have the band members from Lost Valentinos playing their song ‘Nightmoves’ in the palms of your hands. You print out these little markers – each one representing a band member – then go to lostvalentinos.com. When you place one of the markers in view of your webcam, it augments video footage of the corresponding band member playing their instrument on top of that marker. Move it or rotate it in any direction and the ‘hologram’ of the player will move exactly the same way in realtime. So you can stage your own sets or use interesting locations, then record your own unique music video and share it online.

OG: How did you find out about this technology yourself and was it something you immediately wanted to be involved in?

AJ: I saw a couple of interesting uses of it over the past few months and it’s one of those rare technologies that just has wow factor, so I really wanted to do something with it. I ran the idea past the boys and they loved it, so we got planning on how to make it work immediately.

OG: How was the decision made to use this technology in conjunction with the release of this particular track?

AJ: Of all the tracks on the Lost Valentinos new album, ‘Nightmoves’ is probably my personal favourite, and is a song that kind of layers up from few elements into this epic, brooding monster. So all the parts were there to do something interesting with the technology, where you could hold Simon and Pat building the tension in drums and bass to start, layer up Jono and Andrew’s guitars and then have singer Nik roaring his falsetto – all being movable live players in your real world.

OG: Do you have a personal favourite video that has been produced with this application?

AJ: There have been so many videos submitted from around the world already – some of them really clever and interesting, like one who has the players ejecting out of a Polaroid camera or another where the players were floating on water in a sink. But my favourite would probably be one called ‘Seven’ where some guy went to the trouble of setting up this really cool miniature set that looks like they’re playing on the set of Playschool. It’s not the most innovative but a clever idea done well, and makes the most of being able to cheat or enhance reality by superimposing the band members in an interesting context.

OG: Have there been any clips made that you have not been able to share with the public?

AJ: Not yet, but I’m waiting! There are a few odd and creepy ones – strange men mostly. Some scantily clad, but still technically within Youtube’s criteria for broadcast. Besides, you have to take the weird with the good I guess. That’s the whole spirit of this project!

OG: From a Director’s standpoint how do you feel about putting the final stages of a production into the public’s hands?

AJ: Excited! Without sounding wanky, the idea was in a way about making the world’s first true music video 2.0, where it wasn’t about the video we made but what other fans have made themselves. We’re collecting all the different clips that have been made by friends, fans and randoms and will be piecing it together into one final clip – the amalgam of many ideas which I think will make a pretty unique video.

OG: I found that for the user this application is very straightforward. While creating this production was it difficult to keep the front end from becoming more complex?

AJ: Yeah in a way. There were severe obstacles at each point that we had to overcome to make this as simple as possible. AR can be a real drain on your processor and bandwidth, especially the recording aspect of it. It took many severe crashes and a whole lot of bug-fixing to get to this point, but I think it works really smoothly now and I’m excited that a technology that was only a few months ago limited to dedicated software is now accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a webcam.

OG: The concept of mixing reality with the cyber world is quite an abstract concept that is fast becoming day-to-day. Do you think that this kind of application will have uses outside of the entertainment world in the future?

AJ: Yeah totally. I think AR has huge potential within the world of gaming in the near future, but outside of entertainment has probably found more useful applications of late in the mobile world with apps that overlay information in your real-world view. Virtual reality was a bit of a miss in that it was attempting to replace reality, but I think in the way that AR enhances it, there’s real scope for some interesting and useful developments on the horizon.

OG: Do you have any future productions lined up utilising this kind of medium?

AJ: None planned. We were happy to be the first to do what we did and will now move on to find the next cool idea!

If you have a printer and a computer with a webcam and would like to have a crack-a-lack at making your very own music video go to www.lostvalentinos.com.

Crucial By Design

Next Article: Therese Rawsthorne – The Temptress