5 Considerations For A More Immersive AR Experience
Ross Forsyth – CTO, Overworld
So you want to craft a neat AR experience and add an extra “TV” to any location of a user’s choosing or add a company video to your business card? After months of playing around with videos and working them into several different types of AR projects and presentations, we thought we would share a few observations to help avoid the gutter of gimmicky content that can swallow either side of an experience. As it turns out, it has a lot to do with the video itself and the presentation of the video. While video is something that is understood for the most part, when working it into Augmented Reality, it can become gimmicky if not presented in the bigger context of the scene. While these 5 points are not the only considerations, they are a great place to start thinking, and thinking is a good thing….
2D viewing screen in a 3D space
A video is of course an enriching experience and an incredible medium for storytelling and relaying information to a user. We have used it in projects to show highlights of athletes and provide hype to an experience. However, when displaying, it is important to get the placement correct, especially if using a target image. There’s nothing worse than seeing a plane flicker back and forth on a target image to immediately lose a user and send them straight off the waterfall slide of gimmicky. AR is about adding digital content in a physical world, and for it to be successful it has to be placed and viewed correctly. Our suggestion: push the creativity boundary on placing these videos so that the digital is an addition to the physical.
On-device or streaming – Resolution
So you’re talking about a Resolution? I think there is a song in that and if not there should be. It’s that important. If you put the video on the device, easy decision. Go with a high resolution to provide crystal clear video. It doesn’t have to be outrageous because at this point the phone screen is small enough so that it doesn’t really matter. But what if you want to change the video every so often? Then you are going to have to stream and that’s where the compromising begins, and really never stops. When waiting for something to load and stream, seconds seem like hours, and in the 24/7 social environment in which we exist you’ve got 3 seconds to get that video rolling. So compromise and compromise to get the experience and tell the story. Sometimes you have to modify resolution to get it done.
The start of an experience or segue into the digital aspect is currently the least talked about subject in AR today yet is truly where the rubber meets the road. We are talking here about how the user “starts” the experience. You have probably seen buttons being used or nice transitionary graphics. These are good but they have to make sense to the scene. They have to add something and they are probably the most important “add” you can make. Make the button stand out, and make it clear that it’s meant to be touched, but don’t just resort to a standard “play” button. Perhaps it’s the company logo with a bouncing effect to give the user feedback that it carries an action. Add a transition on the button click so a video plane doesn’t just pop up and start playing. Think about taking your user on a journey, and don’t forget that nobody likes the 5 o’clock stop-and-go traffic experience. The flip side of “activation” is how the experience comes to an end. One word of advice: Don’t make the video 5 minutes long, leaving the user having to hold up their phone for an obnoxiously drawn-out amount of time. Unless of course it’s an endurance video, then you could argue it creates an even deeper experience!
Here we are talking the ratio between the width and height of the video screen. It’s a small detail we have begun to unpack in an effort to understand how aspect ratio affects the user’s experience. Most of us are accustomed to think of video in a 16:9, landscape format because that’s how most physical screens are made. In AR however, video shape isn’t limited in the same way and most users are viewing through a phone in portrait mode. Try experimenting with vertically shot video as well as cropping clips to match the aspect ratio of the target image. In addition, the shape of the video can play into some interesting situations and might lead you to develop other content in order to “take-over” part of the real environment. An example would be adding other planes with text on them to block out a complete wall while the video you are wanting to show is in the center. This would lead to the effect of a more complete experience and give you more space to enrich the scene.
Sound. Would a rose by any other name sound as sweet? We think not! We think Shakespeare would be proud of AR. The right sound can add an unbelievable amount of depth to a video, as well as to the overall experience. The wrong audio, the wrong mix of the audio, or a blasting of sound when the video starts can be as jarring as an ice water bath. We are exploring transitions of sound and the right mix depending on the content (spoken word vs. music, etc.). Sound has the ability to take an AR experience up another level and should be considered when thinking about the video presentation.
So there you have the 5 quick and easy considerations for playing videos on a plane in AR, and if used correctly they will help to enrich the user’s experience. You will have left them staring at the screen in wonder and will get to take pride in the fact that you didn’t irritate them or push them straight into the land of gimmicks. Check back next week for a more in-depth look at incorporating green screen videos into AR.
Have questions or comments? Leave them below and we promise to comment back. What are your favorite AR videos?
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