Photo: Metaverse Cinema & TV
Word of the magnitude and significance of the Metaverse has been spreading rapidly, especially since the start of the COVID pandemic which forced many businesses to change their model of operation and the interaction between their workforce. With many industries and fields of practice opting to hold their functioning on a level of online communication, the gravity of what Metaverse truly is, is starting to dawn on not just billion-dollar companies, as reflected in Facebook’s title change to the name “Meta,” but everyday people who can see that the future of mankind has become increasing digital and will soon be based in a virtual world. This virtual world, or Metaverse is meant to describe the cohesion and melding between reality (humans) and their growing adaptation and interaction with augmented reality.
This fact can be viewed in the constant state of online dependence that many have with social media, television streaming, video games, and now a pandemic that has forced life to become free from in-person social correspondence. This change to the normal operation of life will not end with the COVID pandemic but will only go on to inspire the growth of an interdependence between augmented technology and the people who decide to use these technological advancements not just for the workspace, but for pleasure and entertainment as well. The possibilities for this Metaverse will truly be limitless, but what will this change mean for the entertainment industry and life as we know it? Only time will tell.
The Metaverse Will Change The Very Way We Watch Television
Opinions on how the Metaverse will influence how humans interact and perceive television and films differs greatly. Journalist Sandra Lehner states, “Right now, most of us interact with the “metaverse“ through consumer-facing, interactive and immersive virtual platforms, such as video games, AR and VR experiences, and social media.” Though with the growth and adaptation of augmented technology, the way that the user will experience the Metaverse will grow increasingly similar to how they experience reality, as they currently know it. The same can be stated for the experience of viewing television shows or feature films. There is the argument that the format in which people watch films or shows will transform and exist in a 3-dimensional space.
Jason Jones, the co-founder of the gaming studio Bungie, which has produced the iconic, ultra-successful game franchises Halo and Destiny, states, “I think, in lot of cases, what’s going to happen is people are going to throw away their TV and have a way bigger TV or they’re going to go to a totally virtual space that has a way bigger screen. I’m so sure that we’re all going to be wearing glasses and all the TVs are going to go in a landfill [and] all those companies are going to go out of business.” Jones’s vision for AR (augmented reality) is certainly one that views a monumental transformation in the entertainment landscape, but it doesn’t include a huge change from the way people experience or even interact with the visual entertainment of television. He still envisions television and Cinema as a 2D image which only allows for the visual reception of what the viewer is watching.
Alan Wolk, co-founder and lead analyst at TV[R]EV, disagrees with this statement by Jones and does not believe that AR will completely replace televisions. Wolk asserts, “It’s a very different experience and it may be something that becomes very popular, [but] it will be in addition to TV, rather than a replacement.” With the existence of the Metaverse coming to fruition, it is unclear what the future holds for viewing. Though, it is certain that AR will disrupt the traditional sense of how people do watch television. It could lead to any number of ways of how people experience Cinema, whether that be with their friends and family in the Metaverse, or at home.
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Metaverse Cinema and TV
The interaction and building blocks for the Metaverse have already begun to form. What society knows as NFT’s (Non-Fungible Tokens) has started as a digital asset, and will later serve as decoration and the basic unit for which the Metaverse will be built on. This transformation of the basic unit (NFT) from what it is known as today (digital art) into a visual avatar or (digitally) physical catalyst will serve as a virtual world that humans will be able to inhabit or a component they will be able to use in this augmented reality. While interaction is currently limited to the form of the NFT, such as music, images, videos etc…, the application for them has already begun with the creation of digitally inhabitable worlds or real estate such as The Sandbox. In The Sandbox, users can utilize their NFT avatar to participate in video games and online competitions with others.
An example of real-world application in the Metaverse can be seen in Facebook Horizon Workrooms, which is now compatible and for public use through the technology of the VR headset, the Oculus Quest 2. It features “expressive avatars, spatial sound, and hand tracking” capabilities. Though it is still being fully perfected and developed, it gives the user a great understanding and direction of where the Metaverse is headed. Writer D. Hardawar in his review of Facebook Horizon Workrooms, denotes the significance of its workspace potential and the collaboration that it can offer for its users.
This VR technology offers a glimpse into the future capability and interaction that the Metaverse will one day be able to support. This VR is not the only technology that provides insight into the interaction of the Metaverse concerning visual art and entertainment. Fortnite, unexpectedly enough, is at the forefront of combining virtual interaction and visual entertainment to its users. Its collaboration with many popular musicians and artists, hosting in-game concerts, reflect the future virtual cohesion (blend between reality and augmentation) of the Metaverse.
Will There Be A Place For Movie Theaters in The Metaverse?
With the rapid technological advancement of AR and VR, heading directly towards the future indoctrination of the Metaverse in society, it seems unlikely that movie theaters will survive this virtually centered world. Movie theaters in the light of the COVID pandemic have struggled to remain open and have suffered dwindling patrons, as movie-goers have opted to remain home and stream television from the comfort and safety of their own homes. While this has not stopped certain movies from doing extremely well at the box office like Spiderman: No Way Home, which has been a smashing success, many other films have featured dismal attendance and appalling financial returns for movie studios.
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Leda Alvim, a journalist with ABC News states, “A Pew Research study from March 2021 found that 31% of Americans were almost always online, while 79% were online several times a day.” They go on to discuss how Arun Maini, “a tech Youtuber with nine million subscribers,” said that, “recent patterns show how people are starting to shift away from physical to virtual goods based on the time spent on apps and games.” This transition from a physical reality to an online existence is already occurring, and this change is reflected in the poor performance by movie theaters. Life is continuing to become more and more based in an augmented reality and this change is not slowing down. If anything it is only becoming more normalized and frequent. This fact supports the idea that when the Metaverse comes to fruition it is questionable that there will be any place for theaters in this virtually based world. While theaters may have been responsible in part for the birth and popularization of humans’ fascination with visual technology, one day they may be considered obsolete.
By Thomas Jacobs
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Thomas Jacobs is an avid writer, Cinema aficionado, and filmmaker. He graduated with Dean’s Honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a major in Film and Digital Media. His passion is directly tied to the appreciation and creation of film and television, and this fact is reflected in his intent to be a writer for the acclaimed entertainment journal, The Hollywood Insider. His beliefs mirror the core goals and mission statement of The Hollywood Insider by sharing an admiration for quality entertainment as well as bolstering a sense of positivity and equality among all humans. Thomas believes that Cinema is an advantageous promoter of civil and social empowerment, and he shares a mutual societal view with The Hollywood Insider, that people should not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.