E3 2012: Video Editing With Gestural Control Is 'Not Far' Off, Says Xbox Live Exec Marc Whitten

Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360 - 2011

Motion control, augmented reality are among the innovations on display at E3.

Microsoft demonstrated how its Kinect allows gamers to learn new moves with Dance Central 3 during this week’s E3 show in Los Angeles—but in the not-so-distant future, we might also see such control for professional editing systems and other filmmaking tools.

Microsoft’s motion controller was launched two years ago at E3 and with 19 million sold its acceptance has been “really encouraging,” said Xbox Live corporate vp Marc Whitten. He added that an increasing number of games are enabled by Kinect’s gestural capabilities, as well as voice control.

But additional uses are on the way, and Whitten told The Hollywood Reporter that the ability to edit video and operate additional filmmaking tools with gestural moves is “not far” off. “Kinect for Windows is still early but incredibly encouraging,” he said.

“Over the next couple generations of the hardware and software we are going to see an explosion of this stuff in the living room,” said Kwin Kramer, CEO of Oblong, a downtown Los Angeles-based company that specializes in gestural control.

In fact, one of its founders designed the functionally of the computer interface that Tom Cruise used in futuristic Minority Report. Since then, Oblong made this a reality, offering the capability for large-scale applications, including military simulations and visualizations for the oil and gas industries.

As to applications that this might offer to Hollywood, Kramer told THR: “As the sensors get better and software gets better, we are able to track your hands very precisely and have multiple people interact with a computer at the same time. That opens up options for things like new nonlinear editing and previz systems that allow multiple artists and directors to collaborate more effectively by using their hands.”

He noted that Oblong is starting to demonstrate such technology in the media and entertainment industry, and expects to see adoption “over the next year or two.”

This year at E3, Sony is showing its motion controller, Move, coupled with augmented reality techniques—to create what it billed as a “Wonderbook” experience.

Here, the interface is a book that contains augmented reality tags, and Move is used to navigate through the book or participate in tasks while pointing at the display.

Sony teamed with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling to introduce the first Wonderbook, titled Book of Spells, for which the Move is used as a “magic wand.”

Sony views the technology as having many educational opportunities.

In another demonstration, HP company Autonomy showed Aurasma Lite, an app (for iOS or Android 2.2 devices) that can read augmented reality tags on printed materials to provide the viewer with new experiences. As an example, these AR tags are currently on certain Kellogg’s cereal boxes that promote The Amazing Spider-Man. The app allows users to point their mobile device at the tag to access exclusive content and purchase movie tickets.

Jennifer Rapp, general manager of Aurasma, told THR that she is sees “high interest” in augmented reality from the Hollywood studios. “It’s an easy transition for the movie poster to come to life and play a trailer. You could also see the poster and link to Fandango to buy a ticket.”

We didn’t hear much about 3D this year at E3 (in fact, neither Sony nor Microsoft demonstrated 3D games during their press conferences), but startup VEFXI arrived with a mission to make it more common.

The company demonstrated 3D Bee Diamond, a $699 consumer device that converts 2D games to 3D on the fly. Lorenzo Traina, vp of strategic development, reported that this box works with any game, originating from any console.

He told THR that this device was created because until there is greater 3DTV set penetration, the cost for a game developer to release a 3D title doesn’t add up. (Should one wish to do so, VEFXI offers 2D-to-3D conversion services for games, as well as feature and TV content.)

Sony is among the consumer electronics manufacturers who are developing glasses-free 3D capabilities for home entertainment, and Sony Electronic’s president and COO Phil Molyneux believes this is "pretty important” to growing the 3D market. “We’ve done a lot of work with 3D glasses. The latest generation is very light, rechargeable, and the cost has come down. That has removed some of the barrier. But ultimately no having glasses is going to be a better consumer experience.”