Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Delivering entertainment in the metaverse

Over the past few years, the way we consume content has changed dramatically. Being forced to stay indoors for many months during that time meant that event organisers had to get smart with how they delivered entertainment to consumers, and people had to be open to experiencing it in new ways.

Even beyond the struggles of the pandemic, we can expect these behaviours to continue. And that’s why real-time 3D content creation platform Unity recently joined forces with electronic music event organiser Insomniac to create virtual live music experiences.

“The work with Insomniac is all about a mixture of AR, VR, mixed reality, and green screen motion capture. Having that all coming to play to create an in-home festival experience,” says Peter Moore, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Sports & Live Entertainment at Unity.

I can’t get no sleep

The partnership will deliver a ‘persistent metaverse world’ for music fans to enjoy live performances from wherever they are in the world, starting with Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC), the largest electronic dance music festival in North America, next month.

Unity and Insomniac will work together to brings content and experiences to fans, increasing access to artists, social opportunities, and more over time.

“Insomniac sat down with us and we mapped out a plan focused on EDC in May, and launching the first iteration of this platform,” explains Moore. “It will continue to grow and scale like any piece of tech, and we’ll learn things, trip over things, and correct things, but it’s about constant iteration.

“I had the pleasure of going to Vegas in October to watch and experience EDC, which I’d never done before. But millions of people that can’t go to Vegas wish they could have some kind of EDC experience,” he continues.

“If you think about coming out of the pandemic, how comfortable are we all with getting back with 20,000 screaming strangers, and spit flying in the air, and all the stuff that happens at a concert? The world is a different place now, and that’s something Insomniac agrees with.”

Moore thinks the virtual festival experience has the potential to grow in several different directions, with a range of interactive and immersive formats heightening the experience for consumers, including surface-top augmented reality and spatial audio, among other things.

“I can see augmented reality on your coffee table, and people gathered around that. Hearing the concert around you through spatial audio. Interacting with the artists through body motion. Being able to change the lighting and the camera angles. I see all of that. It’s not happening tomorrow, but that’s what I see happening,” says Moore.

It’s time!

In the past year, Unity has also been working with UFC on developing its technology. Unity’s focus there has been on volumetric capture, which is a way of using multiple cameras to enable the viewer to move around an experience in 3D.

Moore sees this technology being extended into other areas beyond sports events and festivals, including places like the theatre, with “volumetric cameras allowing you look right to see Alexander Hamilton, and left to see George Washington”, for example.

“That’s really the next level; getting into the third dimension of entertainment, and being able to look around on the six degrees of freedom,” Moore suggests. “For a long time, we’ve just sat in the audience and watched as it washes over us. I think the future is being on the stage. That propels us into a sense of immersion that we’ve never had before.”

The former Liverpool FC CEO also expects similar developments in the world of eSports, predicting a more immersive experience than “just watching five guys lined up at a table, in front of monitors, with headphones on”.

“How do we get inside the game more? How do we start watching the game from the inside?” Moore asks. “Currently, it’s just passive cameras on the teams. How do you get more immersed in what’s going on? How do you listen in? How do you sit next to them? That’s something you could do with a volumetric camera rig.”

Going places

Over the coming years, Moore believes “the broader worlds of entertainment and sports are going to be ripe for not only enhancement, but disruption”, and sees innovative experiences being developed that bring events to people “in ways they never would have dreamt of”.

He likens the work that Unity is doing to his time at Sega, when the Japanese video game company was trying to bring online gaming to consumers via its Dreamcast console.

“There were a lot of naysayers. At E3 in 2000, I said, ‘we’re taking gamers where gaming is going’. People laughed, and it was clichéd, but I knew we’d go to where it’s at today. Maybe, today, we’re taking entertainment where entertainment is going. It’s going to be virtual, in your home, interactive, and immersive,” Moore concludes.