The Future?

This video was released about 8 months ago but I just came across it earlier this week and I’ve been thinking a lot about it. It was released by Microsoft Office and I guess is a strategic move to show that they are also moving into de future. So if I got you enough interested please take a couple minutes to watch:

So what do you think? First and foremost I have to recognize the effort in putting a video such as this with the amount of budget that probably took but how good is it. I remember a couple years ago Microsoft releasing a similar video about Surface. The technology was just out there the multitouch interface, and they presented this video where people interacted with this table, and was part of a restaurant and cubes and at least back then they made me believe that they were actually developing that product for sale and that by now you would see it at least somewhere important, maybe not in the living room but somewhere and making a big fuzz. It made me believe that Microsoft was up to something cool that would finally compete with Apple. Truth is, a couple months later Apple announced the iPad and changed the game.

I see this video, and I say, wow if they are able to develop this I will be amazed and they will kick Apple’s ass. I think of that moment I guess it will happen. Its like Nintendo, it ruled and suddenly bam, Playstation and the XBox came to own the market, then the Wii came and it got control again, and then XBox Kinect landed and now we all think it rocks. I think sometimes on who is going to come back to Apple and kick his ass.

But I find cheap that a company like Google and their glasses, and Microsoft with this video are actually presuming they have that technology when in the past 5 years none of them have brought a break through technology into the game, but Apple has, and several, and in several ways. You see, Apple does not have a futuristic video, but I’m sure they have a vision like this one. While Microsoft and Google which to me are the only ones who have a chance right now to get back in the game are just portraying their vision without actually achieving it.

What do you think was the purpose of this, and all those other videos? Leave a comment.


Google Wave, waving its way to Theatre

This post was almost mandatory for me. I am a geek and I somehow feel that my role in this industry is to find new technological ways to improve our Theatre Production process (Just because I say so).  So a couple days ago Google released finally a Preview of their new tool called Google Wave. There is an 1hr 20min long video in their website: GoogleWave. But if you don’t have the time to watch that AND read my post just stick to my post ok? They sell it as the new way to do e-mail and I definitely think thats what it is. It is pretty similar to what Gmail started doing by joining e-mails with the same subject into one thread of conversation. And people can join in and out of this thread, but now you can reply to any part of the e-mail, you can edit the content of someone else’s message and you can add people to it without having endless e-mails with copied text all over the place. Another cool feature and vital in this format is that you get live interaction. Meaning that if both users (or as many as there can be in the wave) in one ‘wave’ are online you can see LIVE what each other is doing. To this you can add voice and video interaction so you can collaborate in any document.

On top of all and why this specific tool is popping everyone’s interest is that you can use Google’s API (meaning you can write your own software) to write gadgets to suit your needs. Developers can use this technology to do ANY interactive, live gadget. So right now there are only a few around. For example a Sudoku game, you can put it there and any participant of that wave can start filling in information, you can all see it happening live or if you missed it, you can playback the order of events. Or a poll or decision gadget. Where participants can just click an option and it will update you on who needs to participate, who is missing to vote and make group decisions easily and in one same space rather than scrolling through many e-mails.

So what about theatre? (I’m sure thats the main question in everybody’s mind right now at Google). This means that we could potentially improve the way we communicate and give more sense to e-mail when several people are discussing something. But more than anything, it means that we could write a Gadget, lets say to do a Production Calendar (that could be linked to Google Calendars) and many people have an opinion on it either live or through e-mail but specifically to that part of the calendar, meaning that PM, TD, Director and SM could collaborate in a Calendar without having to send, print and distribute endless versions of it. This also means that you can always refer to that E-mail and have the latest version and commentary on it AND see what the changes are, when they happened and who made them. And the best part is that it all fits in a Browser, so you get rid of compatibility issues, people not being able to open the Excel file, or the PDF file. When people read their e-mails late they will always get caught up and there is no way you can miss anything on any given conversation to one topic. My team and I (Inside of The Box) started already to experiment and hopefully we can bring new tools that uses this technology and save trees, e-mail, but more than anything time and miscommunication.

This is just the beginning and I hope that many theatre and technology geeks like me join in this experiment to change not what we do, but how we do it. The less time we put into doing the machine stuff the more time we will have to focus on the art itself. –Men didn’t do art until they were able to stop worrying about food, and they managed to do that with a technology called agriculture–

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Technology Sluts? I mean slots…

This morning I read two blog articles from two of my favourite Blogs out there. (They won a spot on my reference section, I highly recommend subscribing). As many of you know I have a theatre production company and one of our main projects at the moment is what we code call for now StagePaper. Its a software that will deal with all sorts of Stage Management, Production Management and Rehearsal Needs on a new interactive format. I have always been very proud of this we are working on and believe that eventually we need to switch to this kind of resources to stop wasting paper, time and money.

Mr. Ken Davenport is a Broadway producer who keeps his blog updated, is on Twitter, and wants a Kindle and an iPhone for Xmas. He posted a couple days ago (find link below) about this new slot machines that are interactive and with a flashy screen and how the magic of the old slots with spinning wheels is simply not there. He concludes his article by saying that some things can be removed from its essence when big technology advancements are implemented and that live performance is one of those things. While I agree completely on the slot machine example, I disagree with the idea that suggests that incorporating the latest technology to performing arts will take something away from it. I know Ken is mostly talking about the stage and I still have my doubts about that, but in the core of our industry? PLEASE! Do we need to call a show strictly from a binder? Do we really need to post hundreds of schedules that we re-print all day long? Do we really need to go through pounds and pounds of paper with script versions and modifications?

The second post is the other side of the coin. What Time Inc. (Sports Illustrated among others) is doing to prepare to the tablet era (Find link below). Basically they are doing a virtual version of their magazine, but this is not what everyone thought it would be where they would PDF their magazine. No, its taking it to a totally new level of interaction and content. Please do check it out. We all need to embrace this kind of stuff because its the future of communication and what will keep us growing in any industry and as a society is the improvements on the way we communicate. I can assure you that no matter what industry or project you are working for, the main issue is always lack of communication amongst people. Do you miss newspapers when you watch the news on TV? Do you miss telegrams when you use your telephone? Or do you miss your landline when you are using your cellphone? Of course there are some pros and cons in anything we do, but lets get over it and embrace new technologies (especially when they save trees).

Speaking of communication, please comment. Can you live without paper? Can you read a newspaper or magazine on a tablet, iphone or kindle? Would you have a Kindle or Tablet in your hand instead of a paper script? Would you pay  as you pay for your magazines in the stands for an e-version of it? Please comment and subscribe!

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Ken Davenport’s Article:

Mac Rumors’ Article:

The Toy of the Future

mindflexRemember in the movie Back to The Future 2, when Marty McFly goes to the future? (which by the way is 2015 and they have flying cars and skateboards but no laptops, maybe we will go to Netbooks, then back to cellphones and no laptops… anyway…). There is a scene where he teaches two little kids how to play this ‘retro’ shooting game and the kids say something like “You have to use your hands? Boring!”. Well, we still don’t have floating skateboards but the vision of hand-less toys is comming true (like so many Star Trek gadgets). Mattel introduced this toy named MINDFLEX in something called the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and it has been all over the technology and gadget blogs. So in a few words, you put this headband in your head and connect two cables to your ears (yes, pretty Sci-Fi). Then, you are asked to concentrate and apparently the brain waves that you send will wirelessly activate a fan that will make the little foam ball float. Then you can use a knob (yes at the end you have to use your hands) to move the fan that is holding the ball through a series of obstacles. Its pretty amazing.

hpotterlevisoBut what not a lot of people know is that Mattel already had released a game that looks exactly like this one before, without the mental part. It was a Harry Potter toy called Levitation Challenge (I am aware this is my second Harry Potter reference in a row but not intentional). It was exactly the same concept and machine and you will see by the pictures how similar they are, but it had a lever to control the fan, which now you control with your mind. My cousin got for Christmas the Harry Potter one and I have to admit that even though it was a lot of fun, it was very difficult to operate for most of the ‘obstacles’. And now its going to be even harder. However, for $80 dollars is worth the novelty, and a fantastic drinking game! (I don’t know, every game can be a fantastic drinking game).

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Blue-Ray Features: Bring us closer? or pull us appart?

Warner Bros. anounced a while ago that there will be a new Feature in their Watchmen Blue-Ray Disc to sync with Facebook. Now, I didn’t know much about all of this (cause unfortunately I don’t have a Blue-Ray yet) but I did some research. So basically there is this thing called BD Live. It allows your Blue-Ray player to connect to the internet and access all kinds of information. For example, Dark Knight had live director’s commentary on a special night and communication with other users and other players. However, as it seems they are still experimenting on what can they do with it. Back to Watchmen and Facebook. You will be able to set up your Blue-Ray to let all of your friends know on Facebook when are you going to watch your movie, and when you are watching etc. Being able to sync up with your friends, you will be able to do commentary with your friends etc.

There has been a lot of commentary (both possitive and negative) about this feature. Personally I think its one of those things that you go: It would be great if everyone has it but really how many people are into that today? Nevertheless, I think its brilliant that we are finding new ways of doing this. Maybe incorporating a webcam into this feature would be neat. Me for example I live far away from my family and I miss our Sunday night movies all squishing together in the couch, this way, maybe we could watch movies again (with my parents interruptions as usual). On the other side of the coin, there is this things that puts a barrier in our communication. Have you notice how now for parties we do Facebook events? In theory it ‘helps’ us communicate but in reallity its substituing the phone call now. So in a way its pulling us appart and now you get so many Facebook event invitations that you don’t feel special (or commited) in any way and its very easy to click ‘maybe attending’ when you know you are not really interested in going, but maybe if they called you, you would feel different.

The truth is, I deeply support this discovery of new ways of communicating. What we do or don’t do with them is indifferent to the value of its existence. The truth is that all of our media is starting to interact: Movies on iTunes and the iPod, DVDs and Bue-Ray connecting to the Internet, our Cell Phones becoming browsers and little TVs, our TVs becomming internet browsers, our Books becoming blog readers and our newspapers and magazines becomming blogs and tweets, our home phones becomming webcams and Skype lines, etc.

What do you think? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Leave a comment!

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3D Broadway. Too much to ask?


I just walked through a poster for the new Disney/Pixar upcoming film called ‘UP’ and it is advertised as a 3D movie. So I decided to get back to the computer and do a little research and it turns out that UP is going to open the Cannes Festival. A full 3D animated film is not new now, specially not from Disney. However, it seems that there is a lot of buzz with studios trying to bring audiences back to the movie theatres (apparently people prefer their plasma screens and blue-ray discs these days) by adopting this format. James Cameron is preparing AVATAR in 3D, and apparently Tim Burton, George Lucas and other people are doing 3D stuff. I honestly look forward to this era (if that is what it is), after all, I was blown away by the 3D IMAX scene of the Harry Potter 5 movie.

Now another thing that has me really excited is Sony’s Hot Ticket. I think this only happens in selected cities but basically they film a live show (Rent on Broadway and Delirium from Cirque du Soleil) and screen it for a couple days. And a couple months ago they actually released RENT on DVD (don’t get confused, not the movie, the actual broadway show).

All of this is approaching an idea that I had like 5 years ago and jealously kept secret. Probably someone thought of it before, but wouldn’t it be great to film a Broadway show in a still 3D IMAX camera, and then screen it in real size? Wouldn’t that be an hiper-realistic theatre experience? We will be able to see Broadway shows all over the world. Evidently, it will not be the same and I am sure there will be plenty of selfish people that will say that they are destroying the essence of theatre. But nothing is being destroyed, if anything there is a lot gained by bringing new audiences to our media and more people embracing Broadway Musicals and Plays. And like so, other countries and cultures may be inspired to produce amazing productions and sharing them back to the predominantly anglophone community of musical theatre.

So if there is a big shot IMAX producer out there reading this, please consider it and give me credit. Cause it might take me a while to get to make it happen. We have to face it, musical are back in the screen (thank the lord, Chicago and Moulin Rouge for that) and with 3D IMAX stuff being so popular, its just putting 2 and 2 together. Too much to ask?

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