Virtual Reality
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  • UploadVR Highlights New York Film Academy VR Faculty Member Hugh McGrory’s Company Datavized

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    New York City-based startup Datavized Technologies, Inc. is a media studio focused on Virtual Reality production and consultancy. The company, founded by New York Film Academy Virtual Reality Instructor Hugh McGrory, combines the immersive power of virtual reality with the seamless delivery of the mobile web. Datavized strives to build smart but accessible ways to experience cities. “At Datavized we build proprietary software tools using WebVR — virtual reality experiences that run on the web,” McGrory summarizes.

    McGrory and his company were recently featured in UploadVR, a leading digital virtual reality publication that was founded in 2014 in San Francisco. The article discusses Datavized opening beta access for their product after three years of development as well as the company’s presence at Data for Development Festival.

    Datavized Yellow Taxi

    Datavized NYC Yellow Taxi Example

    Datavized’s web-based drag and drop tools allow users to effortlessly turn spreadsheets into interactive 3D maps. The map above allows users to pare through country-by-country life expectancy between the years 1800 and 2015. Below is a map using NYC Yellow Taxi trip data that allows users to fully immerse themselves in New York City. In March 2018, the company announced plans to release a virtual reality air pollution visualization at the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Festival in Bristol, United Kingdom. In December, Datavized appeared at the United Nations Environment Assembly.

    Datavised Earth NYFA

    Life Expectancy Over Time Worldwide

    McGrory explains the appeal of his company’s tools: “The technical baseline is already there with WebVR being part of web browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and on both Android and iOS for phones.” He continues, “But people don’t see it yet because they’re still viewing the web on 2D screens. The next step is tools and content for the immersive web.” McGrory excitedly describes the future of the medium, “This intersection of 3D, VR and the Web is exciting. He cautions against making rash comparisons to other recent technological advances saying, “This is not like moving from film to tape or VHS to DVD. It’s a big leap that’s more comparable to the transition from radio to TV.”

    As for any concerns about Datavized working better on certain devices compared to others, McGrory explained to UploadVR, “Datavized has been coded from the ground up for optimal performance across devices.”

    McGrory is currently a faculty member for the New York Film Academy’s New York campus. He is an award-winning director/producer and his past projects include serving as executive producer for Northern Ireland Screen/UK Film Council’s Deviate project and as filmmaker in residence at CINEMA Microscopy Lab, Yale University School of Medicine.

    See a video of Hugh McGrory discussing data science, VR, and more below:

    To learn more about NYFA’s VR programs, visit the virtual reality program page.

     

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  • New York Film Academy Narrative Theory Students Explore IMAX VR Centre

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    The Narrative Theory Course is a part of the New York Film Academy’s Game Design curriculum. The class focuses on storytelling methods in gaming. Virtual Reality (VR) provides an entirely new way of looking at how to tell stories. Without the control limits of a two-dimensional screen the ability to direct a player’s eye-line is no longer an option. A whole new set of rules has to be developed. This new frontier of technology brought NYFA students to the IMAX VR Centre in Hollywood, CA.

    For many students, this was their first experience with VR. “I had a really great time at the VR Center,” said student Kamen Marinov. “The moment I put those Oculus ‘goggles’ on my head I felt this strange feeling — that I was inside someone else. It was like I was seeing through another person’s eyes. It felt odd at first, but when I got used to the visuals and the game mechanics I had an amazing experience.”

    Students were able to experience a ton of games that are new to the market. The new “Justice League” game based on the Warner Brother’s film allows players to drive the Batmobile or take out Steppenwolf’s lackeys with Cyborg’s arm cannon. This is just one of the many games currently on display. Set up in an arcade style, students can could jump into several cinematic worlds including “John Wick,” “The Mummy,” “Deadwood,” and the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises.

    Some students choose to play two first-person shooters “Raw Data” and “John Wick.” Jeffery Lay found the experience both taxing and informative: “In ‘John Wick,’ I was hiding behind a bar, watching my six, as enemies come from everywhere. A big vase covering an area of my view-making forced me to me lean around it, or jump to shoot over it, even though in reality, nothing is there.” 

    “VR had a lot more movement than I expected,” said Lay. “I probably changed between standing and crouching about 50 to 100 times in a row.” 

    Nathan Hales wasn’t just having fun. He learned a lot. “The level of immersion offered by virtual reality is really something that one cannot explain but must be experienced,” said Hales. “I felt like I was living within these virtual spaces. I was cutting down robots in ‘Raw Data,’ instead of the usual extra degree of separation offered from a traditional TV or computer monitor setup. Moving forward with the knowledge I gained from experiencing the capabilities and limitations of virtual reality, I can now envision games for the medium.”

    This is important because VR is a hot commodity in the entertainment industry. Since Nonny de la Pena’s VR project in immersive journalism entitled “Hunger in Los Angeles” premiered at Sundance 2012, there’s been a lot of buzz around the future of VR, yet there were many unanswered questions about the possibilities the new technology held at the time. Facebook set a new precedent when it acquired Oculus Rift in 2014. Since then, we’ve seen the development of both VR recording technologies and creative endeavors rapidly accelerate.

    Overall, the day was a rousing success. The New York Film Academy would like to thank IMAX VR for giving our students an opportunity to glimpse the future of gaming.

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  • NYFA Faculty and Students Screen Work at Jump Into VR Fest

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    For the first time in New York’s Lower East Side, the world has a chance to experience Jump Into VR Fest, a premier film festival striving to bring cutting edge VR/VX (virtal reality/extended reality) developments to light through showcases, performances, parties, workshops, product launches, demos, and panels — and the New York Film Academy is proud to congratulate two alumni and one faculty member who will be showcasing their work amongst the thought leaders and industry changes who are shaking the world through VR.

    NYFA 8-Week Narrative VR Workshop alumni Na “Melody” Liu and Ana Paula Loureiro Kler will both screen films made as a part of their NYFA studies at the inaugural festival (“Praying From Afar” and “The Drummer”), while NYFA VR instructor Martina Casas will also present an original film (“Hope after Devastation”).

    We had a chance to connect with NYFA alumna Ana as she prepares to screen “The Drummer.” Read on to hear her thoughts on the exponential speed of technology, what surprised her most at NYFA, and why she’s excited about Jump Into VR Fest.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to NYFA? What drew you to VR?

    AS: I am a 36 year-old journalist, digital media content creator and now VR Filmmaker. In Brazil, where I was born, grew up and built my career, I have 12 years of background in television. In the last five years I’ve been creating website and social media content to the largest mass media group of Latin America (Globosat/Grupo Globo). I also had work experience as a reporter, producer, editor, director and screenwriter during the six years that I was an employee of the main public television in Brazil (TV Brasil). After I studied journalism, I attended a film school. After that I started to work in personal projects, such as a music video of the Brazilian singer Iara Renno (2014) and a short documentary about Burning Man (2011), both as a director.  As an editor, I worked in a short film named “Tradução” (2008).

    The exponential speed of technology has been transforming all the fields and leaving behind professionals who don’t update their careers. Journalism and cinema changed after the internet and keep changing once new technologies affect the communication between people. Since I became a journalist and filmmaker I’ve been learning how to use different tools to do my work. That’s why I decided to attend the VR program at NYFA. Now, I am totally focusing on 360/VR.

    NYFA: Can you share any detail on how your film “The Drummer,” which is screening at Jump Into VR Fest, was made as a part of your NYFA studies?

    AS: The film which was selected for the Fest was a class exercise. They asked us to go to Union Square and find a story to shoot in 360. I was the director of my team. I had two colleagues in my group: Andrew O’Leary, doing the production sound, and Carolina Sang operating the camera.

    We saw this good drummer with disability and he said yes when I asked him if I could make an interview with him. (By the way, he said many students have done the same before but he never saw anything. I think I should email him!)

    Basically, “The Drummer” is a short documentary about this street artist named Jesus. He talks about his life, why he is there, his thoughts, etc. He is always in Union Square. People pass by but have no idea about what he is going through. As a journalist and filmmaker, my goal was to go there, talk to him and transform all the information into entertainment, informing but also offering a nice way to hear from him.

    NYFA: What kind of equipment did you use?

    AS: The Samsung Gear 360, zoom recorder and ambisonic mic.

    NYFA: What surprised you the most about your narrative VR course at NYFA? Would you recommend it to others?

    AS: Definitely, the course was better than I expected! Surprised me how intense it was (many hours of class and projects). Also, the number of professionals from the market they brought to talk to us and how we had easy access to the equipment.

    The experience was really great. Location, teachers and coordinators were really nice. I wouldn’t imagine that in eight weeks I could learn and produce so many things.

    I was looking for something to change my life and my career. I think it was the perfect choice. I highly recommend.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your experience with Jump Into VR Fest experience so far?

    AS: I am really excited about the Festival! It is a great opportunity to have a VR film that I directed and edited showcase here in New York.

    Besides “The Drummer” I made two more films. “Undone.” my final project, is more hybrid. It is an adaptation of an art performance about Muslim women. The VR experience is to be surrounded by six muslim women and hear their stories. I believe in the power of virtual reality, known as the empathy machine, to change people’s minds.

    My third VR film I made for an exhibition in a Art Gallery in Lower East Side. The idea was to give to people the experience to see the creative process of an artist: you see the painting in the gallery, you take the VR headset and when you put it on you are in his studio in upstate New York in the middle of the woods, hearing and seeing a stream, and you see the artist painting and talking about his work. The opening was great. People loved it.  

    “The Drummer” was also selected to be showcased at FoST Festival along with Ana’s final NYFA project, “Undone.” The New York Film Academy would like to thank Ana for taking the time to share about her experience with Jump Into VR Fest with the NYFA community.

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  • Virtual Reality School Highlights at New York Film Academy

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    Last month the inaugural 8-Week Virtual Reality students showcased their final projects in conclusion with their graduation. Students and faculty were able to experience student work through interactive stories and games, which captured everything from Central Park to a virtual beer pong game.
    vr students

    Carlos Cruz, who worked for more than fifteen years in video production in Brazil, came to NYFA to learn about the emerging VR technology. “It was a great opportunity to come to NYFA,” said Cruz. “To study here was like a dream.” Cruz’s project allowed us to explore a blossoming relationship which began as an accidental encounter in Grand Central Station.

    “I find VR absolutely captivating as a medium,” added Catherine Dionne Henry, a NYFA VR student who is a native New Yorker. “We are at the forefront of a technological transition and I feel that this is a very exciting medium to be in.”

    Henry’s final project “Welcome to Harlem USA!” captures the legacy and culture of Harlem, which she says is a neighborhood in a period of transition and change.

    The projects were all impressive, making the 8-Week program a huge success. The Academy looks forward to its next batch of VR pioneers and wishes the best of luck to its recent graduates.

    In VR Faculty news, NYFA VR instructor Caitlin Burns headed a panel discussion on Virtual Reality at the Las Vegas Convention Center on April 23. Burns and other panelists tackled questions as to whether the technologies will be around for the long run and explored how to use and take advantage of the growing technologies, uncover how the experiences will look down the road, and the potential revenue strategies.

    Currently serving as Vice Chair of the Producers’ Guild of America New Media Council, Burns has spent a decade working with narrative intellectual property franchises, independent artists, brands and philanthropic initiatives. Developing content strategies, overseeing multiplatform storyworlds and supervising localization campaigns spanning the globe, she understands what it takes to create a success story.

    Her past work includes: “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Disney Fairies,” “Tron Legacy” and “Disney Descendants” for The Walt Disney Company, James Cameron’s “Avatar” for Fox, “Halo” for Microsoft, “The Happiness Factory” for The Coca-Cola Company, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” for Nickelodeon and “Transformers” for Hasbro.

    She has also worked with Sony, Showtime, Pepperidge Farm, Scholastic, Tribeca New Media Fund, FEMSA, Diageo, Wieden+Kennedy, Odd Division, Tool of North America, Hush, Campfire, Reebok, Stratasys and UNICEF. Her independent feature McCarren Park, a film distributed by geolocated mobile app, premiered at the Tribeca Film Institute’s Interactive Day and screened at New York Film Festival.

    Burns will soon be heading a panel discussion on VR in New Zealand as well as introducing the technology to a group of Maori children.
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    May 12, 2017 • Filmmaking, Game Design • Views: 2541

  • NYFA Game Design Mentor Meetup with Aaron Pulkka

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    This past week the New York Film Academy Game Department held a Game Mentor Meetup. The special event focused on the history and development of Virtual Reality. VR pioneer and NYFA Instructor Aaron Pulkka led the discussion.

    nyfa vr games

    Before the presentation, high school students hoping to attend NYFA, current NYFA students, and instructors from nearly every department gathered outside of the theater. Pizza, soda, and snacks were served. Through mouthfuls of hot cheese, participants buzzed over which VR headset was worth the price tag, which game best utilized its VR feature and whether the future of VR relied on lasers or motion capture and other topics.

    With full bellies and buzzing brains, the students filed into the Riverside theater. Pulkka spoke for over an hour giving first-hand knowledge of the rise of Virtual Reality. Pulkka worked on the “Aladdin’s Carpet Ride” at Walt Disney World in Florida, which first utilized VR in 1998, and many other groundbreaking projects.

    He also broke down the key factors of establishing a VR world. The gamer must move in the space, but space cannot come to the gamer or they will be too disoriented to keep playing. This is known as an explicit camera. Light and sound help establish where in space the gamer is supposed to be.

    pullka

    Pulkka then walked the students through the different kinds of headsets. The Play Station 4 has sold three times as many VR headsets as the next leading brands, but there’s an HDMI cable limiting the player’s movements. Google Cardboard costs anywhere from $2 to $30, but you have to have an expensive smartphone and the games are limited.

    A highlight of the night was Pulkka’s demonstration of the Microsoft Hololens augmented reality headset. He created a VR program in Unity and output it to the Hololens. He then walked around the room dropping giant 3D cubes on the audience.

    A great lesson was the difference between VR and 360-degree videos. Pulkka says, “If you can’t interact with the world it’s not VR. 360 videos, like the ones you see on YouTube or Facebook, are not considered VR.”

    After the presentation, the audience spilled into the lobby to converse about all they learned and enjoy cupcakes. A group of students was overheard excitedly chattering about their VR projects. Game students are free to explore VR in any of their Game Studio semester projects. And there is one VR class currently available documentary students with more planned in the future.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank those who participated in this exciting conversation. You can join the conversation by watching the discussion here.

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    April 17, 2017 • Game Design • Views: 2711

  • International Documentary Association Virtual Reality Event at NYFA LA

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    This past week the New York Film Academy sponsored a special event for members of the International Documentary Association (IDA) at the NYFA’s Los Angeles Campus. Entitled, VR 101 for Documentary, the workshop was moderated by VR Director and Cinematographer Celine Tricart and featured speakers from ground-breaking VR production company The Emblematic Group, and a VR camera demo from AbelCine, a leading provider of equipment and services to the production, broadcast and new media industries.

    IDA Event

    Virtual Reality has been threatening to conquer the gaming world for decades but new cellphone technology used with inexpensive VR viewers like the Google Cardboard have allowed for first widespread distribution of Virtual Reality projects, particularly documentaries. Platforms like the New York Times, OpDocs, Jaunt VR and Frontline VR, are releasing new material often called “immersive journalism.” The goal of NYFA’s VR Workshop was to allow IDA documentarians to “look under the hood” of VR to begin to understand what it takes to direct, produce and edit in this new medium.

    In VR and all 360-degree formats virtually all the film grammar developed over one hundred years of “flatties” or 2-dimensional films do not apply. No cutting to a close-up or a wide shot, in fact not much cutting at all for fear of inducing motion sickness in the viewer. All the “tricks” filmmakers use to direct the attention of the viewer are not possible in a 360-degree universe where the viewer decides what to look at when, and to some extent for how long.

    ida nyfa la

    Using sound and light to direct the viewer’s attention, defining the difference between 360 video and VR, and creating a new cinematic language were key talking points for the speakers. Senior Producer of The Emblematic Group Cedric Gamelin and Marketing Manager Ivana Coleman expounded on the possibilities of storytelling in this new medium, showing the audience examples of the Emblematic Group’s work in both live action and animated VR documentary shorts. Nicholas Samero and Sean George of AbelCine demonstrated a number of different VR cameras, from the 2-camera Kodak 4K 360 to the 8 -camera Nokia Ozo, and the 24-camera Jaunt VR.

    The afternoon was spent in a NYFA edit room where Tricart took participants through the post –production workflow for VR that includes downloading the media from all of the cameras, stitching the images from the various cameras together, editing scenes together, and outputting the edited media. Then each participant was able to view the VR scenes they had cut together.

    nyfa ida vr

    Barbara Multer-Wellin, Chair of Documentary for the Los Angeles campus recommend checking out the Op-Docs Video Channel, Jaunt VR, and Frontline VR to begin exploring Virtual Reality Documentaries. Multer-Wellin has already begun to include elements of VR in her classes and hopes to expand the program soon.

    When asked what she learned from the presentation Multer-Wellin said, “We (filmmakers) are used to having a lot of control. In VR, you’re giving the audience the control with the ability to make cuts themselves with their eyes. This is exciting but it is also kind of scary.” Celine Tricart said she loves VR because. “It’s like the very beginning cinema. All the rules have been thrown out the window and we’re making it up as we go along.”

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    April 14, 2017 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 2812

  • NYFA Welcomes VR Software Architect Chris Bobotis

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    Last week, the New York Film Academy welcomed well-known VR artist, Chris Bobotis, to speak to students in our new VR program.

    chris bobotis

    Bobotis is the Co-Founder and 360/VR Software Architect at Mettle, which introduced 360/VR plugins that have been widely adopted by leading companies world-wide, such as The New York Times, Time, CNN, HBO, Google, youtube, Discovery VR, DreamWorks TV, National Geographic, USA Today, LinkedIn, The Ellen Show, BuzzFeed, Conan 360, Framestore, Google, Jaunt VR, GreenPeace, Care, UBER, RYOT, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Apple, and Facebook. Independent filmmakers and youtubers have also widely adopted the toolset available through Mettle, shaping the content that is available through YouTube, FaceBook, Samsung, and other 360/VR viewers.

    Founded in Montreal as a production studio by Chris Bobotis and Nancy Eperjesy in 1992, the team of artists and programmers who have consistently embraced art and tech, and pushed forward the notion of empowering artists with digital tools, developing software by artists for artists.

    Chris Bobotis

    Drawing on a vast experience of production and post-production workflows, Bobotis leads the development of all Mettle software. SkyBox 360/VR plugins are the most complete set of Cinematic 360/VR production tools available for Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro, and include a VR Player for Oculus RIFT.

    Chris generously spent a couple of hours lecturing on the theory of creating successful VR experiences, as well as demonstrating very practical how-to lessons with the software, which is used in the NYFA VR classrooms.

    At the end of the event, Bobotis offered an award to the best student VR project. Stay tuned!

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    March 24, 2017 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 3403

  • A 360 Degree Look at Ribalta

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    We’ve all heard of the some of the more popularly known diets like the Atkins Diet or a Juice Detox, but what’s become a sort of blessing to New Yorkers is the recently proclaimed Pizza Diet. That’s correct. According to Chef Pasquale Cozzolino of “Ribalta” in Manhattan’s East Village, eating a whole pie at his restaurant provided him with both a filing and relatively healthy meal at only 570 calories. So, while dieting on his delicious brick oven pizza, Cozzolino has lost a total of 100 pounds in just five months! It’s no wonder People and Good Morning America, among many other media outlets, have taken the time out to discuss the diet with the Italian chef. “It’s not only about a diet it’s about a lifestyle,” says Chef Cozzolino.

    To continue the celebration of this magnificent diet, the New York Film Academy commemorated Chef Cozzolio by filming a 360 degree / Virtual Reality video at the new dining hot-spot, Ribalta. The VR, 360 video was directed by NYFA Florence Program Director Diana Santi, shot by NYFA Florence Equipment Manager Nicola Ciccarelli, and included cast and crew made up of acting and filmmaking students and alumni.

    “This terrific video from the New York Film Academy will drive you straight in the heart of Ribalta,” said Owner, Rosario Procino. “Look around, enjoy and discover our place!”

    Having the opportunity to explore this technology for the first time has led to a bit of excitement at the Academy as well.

    VR Pizza

    photo by Shani Patel

    360 Video and/or Virtual Reality is still a nascent technology,” said Diana Santi. “Only pioneers are using it so far and we want to be part of that!”

    With the belief that 360 Video / VR will be an integral part of the filmmaking and entertainment world for years to come, be on the look out for more VR content and a Virtual Reality Filmmaking Workshop at the New York Film Academy. Stay tuned!

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    February 12, 2016 • Filmmaking • Views: 2702

  • Sony’s Morpheus Encourages You To Take The Blue Pill

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    Sony Morpheus VR Headset

    Credit: Signe Brewster

    Red pill or blue pill? In The Matrix, Morpheus convinced Neo to take the red pill and escape a virtual reality to see the real world. Sony’s Morpheus intends to do the opposite.

    Virtual reality is picking up steam. Oculus Rift brought VR technology back into the mainstream, and companies are seeing a potential new channels for providing content. For example, the NBA is already experimenting with providing virtual reality streams through the Samsung Gear (powered by Oculus). Google has also entered the game with “low tech” option for android devices with its Cardboard.

    Sony, being the proprietor of one of the biggest game consoles on the market, decided to jump on the opportunity as well.

    Sony Studios’ Shuhei Yoshida confirmed at the Game Developers Conference that Sony’s new virtual reality hardware is pretty much done.

    The Morpheus VR headset will be compatible with the new PS4 and will provide a 1080p virtual reality experience. There will be no wireless headset, however, because Sony wants to keep its high quality for the headset visuals.

    This will provide those involved with game design and development for the PS4 a new opportunity, but also a new challenge.

    While we’ve only been shown prototypes for both the Oculus, Morpheus, and other VR headsets, it seems like we are on the brink of seeing releases of consumer-ready versions. While nothing has been confirmed, there are indications that Oculus will be ready for mass market later this year. Morpheus, on the other hand, won’t be ready until 2016.

    Although virtual reality is not a new topic, and we see the topic spike in popularity every so often, perhaps the technology is getting to a point where it will stick around. Seems like we’ll just have to wait and see.

     

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    March 6, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 2908

  • Telltale Is Making an Interactive TV-Video Game Hybrid

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    tell tale got

    Telltale Games, a premier video game studio known for its choose-your-own-adventure titles, announced it will be merging its specialty product with a live-action television show. It’s a potentially big step for both media, though a natural one for the company, which has found huge success adapting popular works like The Walking Dead, Fables and Game of Thrones.

    Their games, like the television shows some of them are based on, are structured and released episodically, each costing a small fee and consisting of a few hours of the overall story. Telltale’s The Walking Dead has so far released two seasons of five episodes each, which can also be purchased in bulk with season passes. Their games consist of top-end graphics and numerous cut scenes,–in effect, a TV show you watch but also control, making conversation and action choices for a playable protagonist. Telltale is known for making some of these choices strong moral dilemmas, sucking the player/viewer into a storyline against their will. Likewise these choices typically carry from episode to episode, season to season.

    Telltale’s new project will be both a video game and a live-action television series, with the same characters and storylines. Both will be released an episode at a time and depending on the choices made in the game, the television show may lead down a different path for the viewer. Conversely, watching the show first will affect the storyline of the game.

    Combining two separate media into a single interactive experience could be a groundbreaking event for visual storytelling, and only time will tell how successful it is executed and received. Plot details are unknown, but with Lionsgate producing the project, there’s a good chance it will see the light of day sooner than later. With mainstream Virtual Reality just around the corner, it might not be too long before people are living out entire fictional storylines from the comfort of their couch.

    Now is the time to get into game design. Check out our game design school programs here.

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    February 25, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3258