Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Enhanced Reality (Niconico Chokaigi)

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Image gratuitously stolen from this site
A few years ago I was having dinner with some Tokyoites who were here braving the inaka. One young woman commented that there wasn't much enhanced reality around here. I had no idea what she was talking about, so she showed me her phone. As she held it up a moved the camera around, little text bubbles popped up. People who had previously inhabited the same space had left messages~ "order the chicken, it's great!" and "my boyfriend of five years just dumped me then left me with the bill for our meal." They were like messages from ghosts almost, echoes of moments past. In Tokyo, she explained, there would be so many notes the screen would be completely filled with them, and photographs too.

Niconico, a video sharing community, allows a similar "virtual shared experience" by showing users' comments scrolling across the screen. According to Know Your Meme:

Nico Nico Douga was the first website introduce a way to embed tags and comments directly into the videos, allowing comments on 2channel and the YouTube clip to be displayed simultaneously. The feature enabled video posts on Nico Nico Douga with a sense of a shared watching experience.
In the more popular videos, so many comments have been posted that the original video is entirely obscured, and one has to turn off the comments in order to see it. I recently had a look at the English language option, incidentally, and predictably but disappointingly the first English comment that popped up on the  video I watched was "gaaaaaaay". Way to go, Anglophones :/

Anyway, the reason I am writing about this today is that there was a Niconico convention last weekend, attended by over 100,000 people and viewed via live stream by seventy-five times than number. As one would expect of Niconico, the convention was all about blending the real and the virtual. Attendees carried long strips of paper with phrases such as lol (笑)to hold up in a 3D version of scrolling comments, and stood in front of green-screens to see themselves on a screen interacting with virtual characters like Hatsune Miku (who owes much of her original development and ongoing popularity to the creative community of Niconico).

The sumo match pictured above was a highlight of the conference. As the match was fought, a large screen behind the ring projected an enhanced version with special effects added live, including a display of HP and the Street Fighter/ Dragon Ball Z style light effects you can see in the image. The event was called, interestingly, "real sumo". Realer than real.

Many thanks to Helen of Inn by the Sea for giving me a kick back into blogging with the "five days challenge". The idea is to post five photos, one per day for five days, and to write a story or poem to go with each photo. For each day that we post we are supposed to invite one person to participate.

I'm inviting Mrs Epic of Epic Domestic to join in. Mrs Epic, if you would like to participate, post a photo every day for five days and write a story to go along with each photo. Your story can be fiction or non-fiction. It can be a short paragraph, a page, or a poem. Each post, please select one person to carry on the challenge. It's just for fun, there's no pressure to join in ;)
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