10 Future Reality TV Shows Set in Virtual Worlds

June 04 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

The genre known as reality television sprang into existence thanks to a drop in camera costs and increased digital storage, editing and effects capabilities. Now, as we enter the acceleration era, consistently dropping technology costs and new software capabilities will enable a radical transformation in in the sorts of reality shows we see on broadcast television and on YouTube.

One particularly potent reality TV catalyst will be nascent virtual worlds technologies like Second Life, Multiverse and There which will not only make possible high-end machinima (animation via virtual world action capture, which is already taking off), but also totally new, ultimately genre-busting, broadcast worthy physical/digital behavior.

Back when I lived in LA and worked in reality television and at the same time encountered virtual worlds for the first time, I would often image the amazing reality shows that will soon be possible as production technologies and practices evolve. For your enjoyment and as a demonstration of just how crazy television programming is about to get, here’s my current top 10 list of future virtual world enabled reality TV shows that I’d love to see developed:

1. U-BOAT: 25 contestants live aboard a submarine set and engage in the historical experience of a lifetime. They must quickly learn to navigate the craft through a virtual ocean simulation and a string of dramatic WWII battle scenarios. To both the contestants and the viewer at home it looks and feels as if these modern day Americans are actually piloting the submarine and narrowly staving off infamous Nazi U-Boat fleet.

2. THE BOARD ROOM: The new flagship marketing vehicle for Milton Bradley is an augmented reality game show that allows contestants to literally step right onto their favorite all-time board games. To the audience at home, it resembles The Price is Right in game structure, but visually looks like the participants have jumped into a Tron-like world with their favorite games all around them.

3. REQUIEM: Each episode of Requiem features one near-death person (young, old, terminal, famous, interesting, compelling life story) as they leave behind a 3-D “plot” of land for the world. Each individual is given the opportunity to create a 3-D world in which they deposit memories, images and descriptions of loved ones, candid descriptions of historic and historical events, favorite memories, renderings of their dreams, final farewells, and warnings to society. (cont.)

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10 Massive Reality TV Shows for the Near-Future

June 10 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Media   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

Alvis Brigis is a former reality television producer and story editor whose credits include Motormouth (VH1), The Simple Life 2 (FOX), Making the Band 3 (MTV), and House of Boateng (Sundance). This is Part 2 of a series envisioning the future of the genre.

As I discussed in my last post on future tv programming that incorporates virtual worlds, reality TV is one of the many art forms due to experience incredible change as we enter the acceleration era. The genre is particularly well-suited to respond to new technology because it that was recently enabled by dropping technology costs and responds quickly to market forces.

That being the case, I’d like to explore just how BIG reality programming can get considering the proliferation of high-quality digital recording devices like the iPhone (the new better 3G version will start at just $199), the rise of social media media structures (YouTube, Digg, MemeBox), the advent of online participatory editing, the near-term potential of 3G and WiMax communication webs, new camera POV possibilities such as aerial micro-drones, and the steady progress we are making in digital storage and battery life/weight.

Ultimately, these are the same technologies that will enable widespread life-logging, surveillance and an emerging participatory panopticon. But along the way they will make for some kick-ass, ground-breaking reality television.

Here’s my Top 10 list of future MASSIVE reality TV shows that I’d love to kill some precious time watching:

1. THE PROTEST: The world’s largest and most dramatic political protests are examined inside-out as real-time footage captured on handhelds and by aerial drones is crowd-sourced and quickly edited online. As viewers watch the most popular cuts they can click on a frame to directly access the live feeds of their favorite broadcasters.

2. MANHUNT: 10 professional soldiers, law enforcement agents, and reformed criminals stage a fictional prison break then attempt to elude a public manhunt on 10,000 acres in rural Montana. Watch from afar or come test your tracking skills for a shot at $1,000,000.

3. THE REAL WAR: A reality show that actually makes a difference in the lives of the persecuted masses, The Real War brings transprency and accountability conflict situations in unstable regions. Sponsored by the UN and private donors, the program is edited by a panel of international observers. (cont.)

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10 Future Reality Shows Enabled By Alternate Reality Gaming

September 12 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Entertainment   Year: General   Rating: 4

Prediction: Alternate Reality Gaming and Reality Television will converge in a big way by 2013.

Alternate Reality Gaming is a new “interactive narrative structure that uses the real world as a platform, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions”, as defined on Wikipedia. Basically, that means a fictitious scenario played out atop the real world.

To date, most of the massively popular ARGs such as The Lost Experience and I Love Bees have been largely organized through the web while serving a broader marketing purpose. But as the genre 1) continues to gain in popularity and 2) the cost of high quality video production continues to decline, it is likely they will gradually develop into a self-sustaining industry capable of generating programs that equal or exceed contemporary broadcast television quality.

This will be made possible by the proliferation of ultra-cheap and capable DV cams, easy and broad wi-fi transfer of footage, smart footage databses, and robust computers/editing programs that can effortlessly manage more video feeds and increase prduction quality in numerous other ways.

For example, it will soon become possible to organize a theme party (i.e., Presidential Campaign Trail), set some basic game rules (i.e. Everyone Must Dress Accordingly, Deliver Stump Speeches, then Vote for the Party President), record the entire experience, and then quickly edit it into a final product good enough to air on, say, a channel like VH1. My guess is amateurs will be capable of producing such programming inside of 5 years time – though by then the primary audience will likely be web-based.

That being the hypothesis, here’s a list of 10 other ARG/Reality Show concepts that I think could be produced over the next 5 years:

1.THE SENATE: This active political reality show pits 100 Americans against one another as they seek re-election by effectively role-playing a live Senate situation. Political parties are formed and dissolved, legislation is proposed and voted on, current events and wild-card situations add spice and flavor. Ultimately, the show serves to mirror and parody real-life politics.

2. FANTASY WILDERNESS ADVENTURE: Small fun-to-watch groups role play a harrowing Robin-Hood-style journey through the wilderness. They proceed from elegant or hilarious sketch-to-sketch and interact with B-actors and extras playing various medieval roles. The final product is an edited story that can be inter-cut with other groups on parallel or complementary adventures.

3. HISTORY: Participants are placed into unique historical and fictional scenarios and must use their role-playing skills to turn the situation to their advantage, often creating alternate versions of past events. The best role-players proceed to the finals where they interact with one another in a grand scenario. Expert judges (historians, psychologists, acting coaches) eliminate the worst player-actors until just one is left standing.

4. HACK ATTACK: America’s best hackers all try to crack a multi-layered and formidable website. They film their efforts via web-cam and provide interview commentary via Skype. The best footage, of both the game leaders and the most interesting personalities, is cut into regular episodes.

5. SECRET AGENT: Ordinary Americans are placed in extraordinary spy situations and must react and solve their assignment. They must unravel clues, decide which characters to trust, and ultimately survive the adventure. The winners are the ones who score the most points by achieving goals in the shortest time span.

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Microdrones Will Transform Low-Cost Videography

May 20 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Entertainment   Year: General   Rating: 3 Hot

Back when I lived in LA and worked on reality TV shows I would often ponder the future of low-cost video production (which is what enabled both the genre and the explosion of online video content) and imagine a variety of camera placements that would soon be enabled by new technologies. I was particularly excited about the potential for aerial drone cams that could follow characters in new ways, allow for low cost establishing shots and get to previously unreachable positions. And so I was psyched to come across this demo video of a hovering Microdrone camera that allows for all of the aforementioned:


Of course, it’s been around for about a year (yet another awesome technology that I’ve missed at inception) and is already being used for surveillance, exploration, television and more. It currently runs about $40,000 U.S. but as it drops in cost I expect that reality TV producers, documentarians, news producers and low-budget movie producers across the globe will employ it to shoot previously unthinkable footage. (cont.)

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