The Norwegian program uses MR to bring competition to life; letting viewers play along.
It was only a matter of time until mixed reality made its way to broadcast television. Developed by The Future Group and FreemantleMedia (the company responsible for American Idol and X Factor), Lost In Time is a Norwegian game show that uses interactive mixed reality technology combined with a customized green screen studio to transport contestants to different landscapes scattered across time and space.
From obstacles in the Jurassic Era, puzzles in the Roaring 20’s, and challenges in Medieval times, contestants will shoot, drive, navigate and solve their way to glory.
24 different challenges fall into four primary game categories with each competition lasting 90 seconds each. Physical props are spread throughout the green screen studio to help guide participants. Otherwise the rest of the scenery is rendered digitally using Unreal Engine 4 in post.
This explains the beautifully rendered visuals (this level of quality requires extensive rendering time) as well as the lack of a live broadcast. Participants competing will not be wearing any form of a virtual reality headset, which means only spectators will have a chance to view the full mixed reality experience.
According to Bård Anders Kasin, co-Founder of The Future Group, this was an important strategic move:
“We give them enough of that environment so that they can compete that challenge, and we use green screen to transfer them into the virtual world,” said Kasin during an interview with GameCrate. “Of course if they are driving something, they see the environment like you would on any motion simulator platform today. But we’re not using VR goggles, because that’s very important in terms of seeing their emotions, we need to see how they’re reacting and all of that.”
However the Lost In Time experience extends much further than the mixed reality competition. Viewers at home also have the chance to get their hands dirty by competing in touchscreen mobile versions of the full challenges. Instead of suiting up and physically running through each challenge, players use their smartphones to touch and swipe their way to enticing cash prizes.
“The way we’ve built it is that you’re doing the same challenges at home as the people in the studio, and that of course is a very tricky thing to do,” continued Kasin. “But we’ve come up with various ways of solving that. Let’s say that you’re driving or flying something. You’re flying a plane in 1920s New York, which is one of the time eras we go to. In the TV studio we basically place the contestant on a motion platform simulator, similar to a flight simulator, but of course the virtual technology allows us to do a full multi-camera production so it appears as if they are flying an actual plane inside that virtual world. Then on my mobile phone I would be flying my own plane, and doing exactly the same challenge, basically steering it with my fingers, swiping left and right to steer it.”
“We have ported those challenges to mobile,” spoke Ellen Lyse Einarson, the company’s Director of Games, to GameCrate. “So the viewers at home can do those same challenges, but we’ve also added meta-features to ensure user retention, so that people also play throughout the week, and earn virtual currencies in order to participate in the biggest tournaments with the bigger physical prizes when the show is live. A player at home will be chosen to win the same money reward that one of the contestants takes away, so it’s obviously in their benefit that the contestants do really well.”
This is just another clear indicator of the endless entertainment potential mixed reality can provide. Immersive technology could revolutionize how TV and film projects are developed from the ground up. At least this is the hope of The Future Group as they continue to dive deeper into MR. The program is only half way through its 8 episode season in Norway, with each episode lasting a total 43 minutes each. Hopefully U.S. broadcasters smarten up and jump on this goldmine as soon as possible.