- A 2023 NAB Show session explored how digital and physical experiences can be combined to create engaging and immersive storytelling experiences using mixed reality technologies.
- MetaCities teamed up with StarBase to create one of the first digital twin hybrid live venue installations.
- The startup focusing on recreating real-world locations in the metaverse is producing more than 50 virtual events a year.
Watch the full NAB Show 2023 session, “The Future of Data-Driven Hybrid Experiences: Bridging Digital and Physical Realms.”
Virtual and augmented reality will eventually merge the metaverse with our everyday surroundings, but we can get a glimpse of how that might look in emerging location-based experiences.
A number of them are popping up, notably in Las Vegas, where the mother of all venues, the MSG Sphere, is gearing up for an autumn launch.
It’s fair to say that mixing the 3D internet populated by avatars with tactile, IRL-populated experiences is both experiential and experimental.
We are in the foothills of what is possible and getting the mix right involves considerable trial and error.
“Probably one of the largest drivers of the technologies that we’re working with was COVID,” MetaCities co-founder Chris Crescitelli explained at the 2023 NAB Show. “The pandemic definitely accelerated the timeline.”
The NAB Show session, “The Future of Data-Driven Hybrid Experiences: Bridging Digital and Physical Realms,” explored how digital and physical experiences can be combined to create engaging and immersive storytelling experiences using mixed reality technologies. (You can watch the full session in the video at the top of the page.)
MetaCities is a startup focusing on recreating real-world locations in the metaverse, and then providing experiences in those virtual spaces that include musical performances, avatars and holograms.
It’s producing more than 50 virtual events a year, selling tickets and advertising/sponsorship alike on behalf of its clients, which includes Las Vegas-based StarBase.
StarBase is a 8,000-square-foot live and virtual entertainment event space that is among the first to use holoportation technology to operate as a hybrid real world and metaverse event venue. StarBase has a “digital twin” built by MetaCities using Microsoft’s AltspaceVR to replicate the physical venue as an interactive one online.
“MetaCities teamed up with StarBase to create what we think is the country’s first digital twin hybrid live venue installation,” Crescitelli said.
He described the core fundamental building blocks of the shows as using “proto-holograms in the real world.
“If you haven’t seen or heard of proto-hologram, it’s a seven by four-foot display in which people stand and their video is transmitted and displayed as a proto hologram anywhere else. Traditionally people beam from one proto hologram into the other. We’re using it for the live avatar projection as well,” he said.
“The second element is a robust metaverse platform, and the third element is the live tech in the building from camera installations and projection to sensors in the right places for the live audience to see each other. Technicians glue all that together.”
The success of these entertainments rely not just on technology but on utilizing the personal data of guests. Clearly there are issue of privacy but if those can be overcome then it is possible to curate experiences which are shared and personalized at the same time.
Melissa Desrameaux, venue director at StarBase, explained, “The way our space is laid out there are a lot of different rooms that guests can freely flow into. We encourage them to create micro experiences throughout the event. Not everyone has to have the same experience at the same time. A lot of times they’re asking for just really experiential ways to bring food and beverage to life and we’ll have fun creating different stations, building props for them.”
The ability to track guest eye movement would benefit the experience, but most people are not yet comfortable giving permission for this.
“Everybody in those upper executive offices would love to have all that eye tracking information. And it’s so logical to do that. But it definitely borders on privacy issues that some people don’t want to cross. But the tech is all there for sure. In a lot of virtual worlds that are headsets that are enabled with eye tracking and those will be more prevalent in the newer models.”
It is early days of course but there is potential for content owners to license their IP to appear in these virtual worlds and as avatars in the real world. Disney might seem the logical first mover though the panel thought owners with more flexible arguably less well known IP — such as Netflix’s Stranger Things — might be more suitable for exploitation.
“In the same way that you have SoundExchange for music (a collective rights management organization that collects and distributes digital performance royalties for sound recording) eventually we’ll have a similar exchange for images. So you’re using Mickey’s pants in this and Disney’s gonna take a piece of your sales…”