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Posted at: Sep 30, 2017, 12:51 AM; last updated: Sep 30, 2017, 12:51 AM (IST)

Reality without add-ons

India jumps on to AR bandwagon with an entry to FIVARS, touted to be world’s most cutting-edge storytelling festival

Radhika Sharma

Remember Jaarvis from Iron Man? The sarcastic sidekick who helped Tony Stark become a superhero with awesome technical precision and swagger... The heads up display is a great example of Augmented Reality in movies where it pulls the audiences in with its real world experience. Another example is the popular Minority Report still touted as one of the best films to depict AR in the modern age. The biggest hit of 2016, Pokemon Go, used the real world as a layout in a game where gamers felt like they could touch and feel the Pokemons themselves. Yes, augmented reality has been one of the biggest innovations of 2017.

Virtual Reality (VR) is a term that has also made headlines with technology from giants such as Occulus Rift, Samsung, Google Glass and more. So what is the difference between AR and VR? While VR, by definition, requires a headset or a heads-up display for the experience, AR takes advantage of the spatial real world layout without the need for a separate viewing device. But these lines are often blurred and the two coincide to create content.

The earliest form of this entertainment was 3D with movies such as Chota Chetan, but the advent of 3D depth camera that can capture digital graphics in an AR experience has paved a great future for immersive content. Many cult TV shows such as Black Mirror have showcased AR in the future as being a key part of everyday life and an extension of human life itself. A recent short film called Hyper Reality made by Kelichi Matsuda shows the web of AR in our normal lives by a first person perspective of a woman. It’s mind blowing to see the possibilities and the dependence! VR, on the other hand, has hit the gaming market hard with games such as Star Trek Bridge Crew, Xing—The Land Beyond and Doom. 3D content has also hit the mainstream with speciality TVs and networks that produce genuine 3D viewing and not 2D converted to 3D as was the case before.

VR content took centrestage at the recent Sundance Festival with movies such as Dear Angelica (by Oculus Story Studio) and was drawn completely inside VR with an art program called Quill. It feels like a painting that’s come to life and lovingly tells the story of a daughter and the many roles of a mother. Another winner was Mindshow, which lets players record their own movements and words to create a story on the spot. India is also in the fray with submission in FIVARS (Festival of Internal Augmented and Reality Stories) titled Priya’s Mirror. It’s a story of India’s first female superhero, a survivor of sexual violence. It’s a fusion of AR and social engagement in the form of a comic book. Second in the series, it brings alive 2D elements of the comic world to life and gives the viewer interaction in its story.

Ram Devineni, the project creator of Priya’s Shakti & Priya’s Mirror says, “I got the AR idea when I travelled to Italy and spent some time in the Sistine Chapel. Augmented reality compels you to interact with your surroundings and gives you additional information and a new perspective on what you see around you.

Although the comic book was not originally conceptualised with augmented reality, we felt it was very necessary. The creation of art is never a straight-forward path, and there is always a lot of experimenting and changes along the way. But, all roads lead to Blippar and AR.”

With big directors such as Peter Jackson getting into the AR field, the audience is definitely in for a treat.

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