intonowCheck out this fascinating article on psfk.com about how our entertainment ADD is not only being addressed by content creators, it is being celebrated.

Here’s the jist:

Admit it.  When you’re watching TV, you’ve probably got a laptop, or an iPad or a smartphone nearby.  And during the program, you may google something you see . . . or check your email  . . . or, you know, see what I’m saying on twitter.

You multi-task.  Or, as I like to say since it’s entertainment focused, multi-tain.

In their “Future of Entertainment” series, PSFK and the folks at Intel describe how the next generation of tv/video games/films/etc will engage you on multi-screens at once.  For example, they cite Dutch filmmaker Bobby Boermans’ flick,  App, that serves up a story traditionally on a big screen, and simultaneously pushes out synced content integrated with plot on your small screen.

Read the whole article here.

Then think about how this may change the theater.  You all already know that I am predicting that the Vid Game Generation will have a significant effect on how entertainment is created and consumed in all mediums, and it looks like it’s already starting in some.

But will it get to ours?  Could you be watching a musical that has interactive components sent to a screen in your hand?  What if you heard a character’s innermost thoughts on a phone while they spoke something else from the stage?  (Talk about sub-text.)

Multi-platformed entertainment is coming.  It’s just a question of when.  As usual, we’ll be a decade or so behind, like the late adopters we are.

But mark my words, in 10 years, you’ll be multi-taining too.

 

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14 Responses to The future of entertainment includes a second screen. Will we get a first?

  1. Cat says:

    Oh my gawd, my brain has just exploded with possibilities……

  2. Joanna says:

    I’m very interested to see where this trend will take us. A show at DC’s Capital Fringe Festival this summer did exactly as you describe: headphones gave audience members direct insight into what characters were thinking, and attendees could switch characters at will. The piece was called Double Freakquency, by AVAdventure Productions.

  3. Anne says:

    This is mind boggling but right on point. I have the television on right now as I surf around on my laptop. This is an amazing opportunity and I am sure we will all be multi-taining in the future.

  4. Eric Vigdorov says:

    Ken,

    This is a great observation. I have seen the evolution in myself along with those around me. Spend an evening with my parents who are not yet 50 and they have adapted. When my brother and I were kids my parents would not be surfing the web or texting while we sat and watched tv in the living room. Now everyone does that, including myself. Take a theatre audience even, when the audience isn’t being wowed and tuned into the story being put in front of them you see their fingers twitching to text. At intermissions you see audience members grab there phones. How about the twit seats that theaters are experimenting with. What are your thoughts on the twitter seats. I was one involved in a production at the figment festival that used iPhones and smart phones to create a relative world for characters. It was a movement based piece but the audience could call a number or open a website and follow the characters thoughts and sounds through a “second screen” . Great article again!

  5. Kile Ozier says:

    Do we really want to degrade the theatrical experience to make it more like watching television, at home? (Yes, I do have an opinion on this.)

    I’d offer caution and circumspection on something such as this. The enhancing addition of earphones to communicate thoughts is a cool one, but the addition of a screen immediately dilutes the emotional engagement as it immediately engages the left side of the brain.

    Theatre and movies are almost 100% right brain activating; exciting the emotional and sensual parts of the brain in storytelling. The minute data is added to the screen (such as subtitles), the audience becomes just a little bit less engaged, emotionally, as the titles are read.

    Add a second (or, in the case of theatre, first) screen and the ability / necessity to interact with both “information streams” requires disengagement from the one form or source in order to interact with the other.

    IMHO – and in my experience – the most important thing is a good story, well told, and the keeping of the audience taking in that experience through the right side of the brain. Aural augmentation, great; it’s passive. Other than that, as I said above, I’d simply offer caution in the embracing of this technique.

    For a show about a road race, sure; for one of more emotional content…be careful to not lose audience to tricks…

    Just sayin’…
    KO

  6. I agree 100% with Kile Ozier’s comment. In fact, I would go further and call all this extra stuff not only degrading theatre, but defiling it. The entire point of theatre is to use your emotional mind to figure out what is going on everywhere in the story, to make sense of all the nuances and form a picture of what each character is thinking, plotting, or feeling. At the same time you are integrating the message of the music and the aesthetics of the costumes and set. It is indeed a ‘right-brain’ domain. If every little ‘fact’ that can be added is being thrown at you from all directions, you simply won’t have the time to use your mind in this manner. It would change the nature of the experience so much for me that I would not want to continue attending. Ken referred to “our entertainment ADD”, a very telling phrase, and, from what I see around me, applicable to many people. But not me. I take this position not because I am old fashioned, or slow, but because I like using my mind in the imaginative way that kids use theirs when they listen to someone telling a story. The strength of theatre is its ability to promote the use of ‘right-brained’ thinking in audiences. Long live this!

    • janis says:

      I too agree with Kile. It’s not that I’m immune to multi-taining. I watch TV whilce also checking the internet, especially during newscasts. I am forever surprised at the ‘rest of the story’ that is revealed online, but not on TV.
      But to do that with theater would be a terrible loss.
      Live theater is one of the few entertainment formats in which one can be completely immersed in the action.
      We want people to leave live theater resonating with the story and to multi-tain a production would turn it into the news crawls that are shown during certain TV shows. By trying to read and listen at the same time I wind up knowing nothing about what I’ve read or what I’ve seen and wishing I had focused on one or the other.
      It would be a surefire way to destroy everything wonderful about live theater. And we don’t want to hear or read an explanation of the character’s inner thoughts. That’s up to the actors and our imagination to determine.
      Multi-taining will probably come, but for the joy of theater, let’s not rush it.

    • janis says:

      I too agree with Kile. It’s not that I’m immune to multi-taining. I watch TV whilce also checking the internet, especially during newscasts. I am forever surprised at the ‘rest of the story’ that is revealed online, but not on TV.
      But to do that with theater would be a terrible loss.
      Live theater is one of the few entertainment formats in which one can be completely immersed in the action.
      We want people to leave live theater resonating with the story and to multi-tain a production would turn it into the news crawls that are shown during certain TV shows. By trying to read and listen at the same time I wind up knowing nothing about what I’ve read or what I’ve seen and wishing I had focused on one or the other.
      It would be a surefire way to destroy everything wonderful about live theater. And we don’t want to hear or read an explanation of the character’s inner thoughts. That’s up to the actors and our imagination to determine.
      Multi-taining will probably come, but for the joy of theater, let’s not rush it.

  7. CJ Scott says:

    G’day,

    Haven’t characters internal thoughts traditionally been done with a single spot and other lighting cues and the character breaking the fourth wall and turning to the audience to say what they are thinking while the rest of the cast freezes in time, pause … and then all returns to normal.

    I too have pondered the possibilities and perils of this technological wizardry. All in context; it must expand, enhance and extend the experience.

    Perhaps messages for a murder mystery dinner for the ‘CSI’ information: lab results, fingerprint & ballistic reports, criminal histories, alibi confirmation or denial, life-insurance beneficiary reports and other information detectives uncover. Or you receive it during the intermission with a revelation that’s about to be exposed, now you know something others don’t, don’t you feel special because you are in the know. You have got peek behind the curtain. OH, or you could use it to manipulate different audience member’s perceptions of particular characters by sending different messages to different ‘witnesses’ for a grand psychological experiment, only to reveal it to them afterwards, hhhmmm? Who done it, in which room and with what weapon.

    Have a pre-show where some characters mingle with the audience before they take their seats in the lobby or the performance hall. Interviews, jocularity, scandalous drinks thrown in faces or brawls. Could rotate different set-ups for each show while in town, making it a lil different each time. “Congaloosh!”

    Register to receive texts or other media (calls, video, enrichments) weeks & days leading up to the show for heightened anticipation. Similar to how a preamble or back story of a movie – additional info not necessary for the actual show or to understand what’s happening on stage, but adds a depth or sub layers to embellish the show you’re watching. You’ll simply have a better understanding of the characters motivations. Hollywood calls it transmedia – an enrichment of the story with extending characters timelines and /or expanding the world: events or environments/places – other things happening at the same time but at different places ‘meanwhile back at the ranch’. Then as you are leaving the show, or the next day, you get additional message(s) or warning of something dreadful could happen or grandly wonderful that they all lived happily ever after. Reminding you of the great show you saw and maybe you should want to tell your ‘friends’ you really ‘liked’ it.

    How about surround sound. For the proper auditory it could be exhilarating, effective and memorable. Gun shot(s), car chase, tires squealing, plane(s) over head, whispers, neighbors yelling, the wind howling. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Mapped projection for the ceilings and walls of the theatre. Extend your scenery digitally to envelop your audience. Add animation for forest creatures, birds, starry nights, storm clouds approaching, growing fields of flowers; showing seasonal changes or time passing. Fantasy or psychedelic imagery filling your peripheral vision for “Wondrous Boat Ride”s.

    Take home goody bags. Flowers, butterflies, booty light bugs, foam swords, flags, eye patches or flashing lights like the Super Bowl Halftime and Olympic opening & closing ceremonies used so attendees became part of the show. Do audiences want to be ENTERtained and participate in or interact with the show or simply be passive, placid observers is a conversation for a nutter time and space.

    Move the action ‘off the stage and beyond the proscenium’. Have the chorus and dancers move into the aisles and interact with the audience like we see during the “Tony’s” and other award shows on the telly tube. “AVE Q” does it just a scoach with “The Money Song” when they turn to the audience for monetary assistance; I thought the Chimney Sweeps could have done it during “Step In Time”; The flying monkeys could have exited through the rear of the auditorium. We may need to find a way for them to get over the orchestra pit. Would love to see how the heroes and villains fly over the audience in one particular show.

    Perhaps you could utilize it to misdirect your audience to look over there while you make an elephant appear or disappear over here.

    Look for the opportunities to immerse the audience more, but with the primary performance – not gadgets, gizmos and gimmicks of plenty during the actual show. Our brains can only process so much at one time. Sorry to say we don’t multi-task, we simply pivot our attention. Do the performers on stage stop while the app/phone/recorded messages of the characters inner thoughts playback or do you risk missing something. Look up on the stage, now look down at your phone, back up on stage, back to your phone – oh wait what did I just miss happening on stage? Dag nammit!

    “Theatre is art. Film is Life. Television is furniture.” Frank Eberling c. August 2003

    Mahalo!

  8. Jeff Casey says:

    Always love the content of your blog and the open nature and passion you address our craft!

    We are currently working on pre-production details for Towle Youth Theater Ensemble’s fall show Clue, the musical and are considering encouraging audience members to post their predictions to the who-done-it after each clue is revealed. Should be interesting to see how it goes.

  9. Max says:

    Dan Deacon, an electronic music composer/performer has created an interactive app for iPhone and Andriod. It reacts to light and sound at his shows. Looks very cool.

    http://youtu.be/Ivg-dKf9Gj8?t=6m25s

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