I guess everybody has heard all about the metaverse Mark Zuckerberg dedicated so much of his time and money to.
And despite the reported confusion among the developers working on it and the public learning about it from the news, you can’t just dismiss the enthusiasm of Meta, who presented the term in 2021, and other companies who are actively contributing to it.
Shall we see what’s going on in there?
Let’s discuss the concept of the metaverse, figure out its benefits, and see about some use cases for metaverse in media and entertainment.
Figuring out the metaverse
First things first, let’s get the term metaverse out of the way.
I understand that there might be a lot of confusion surrounding it, and the main reason for that is that metaverse does not refer to something specific — like a technology or a platform.
It's more about how we interact with technology and what we built with the help of it. The immersiveness of the end experience being at the center of it all, of course.
Honestly, you can simply use the word “3D cyberspace” instead of “metaverse” — and you won’t be wrong in most cases.
Those spaces can be all kinds of stuff: environments accessed through VR hardware, AR assets augmenting our physical world, or customizable game worlds that allow the users to interact with their elements and each other.
Inside those environments is the content that provides the most value for both businesses and the users. Metaverse is the place to socialize, create, exchange, and sell digital goods.
That’s the best explanation you can come across these days. Since the very concept is still being fleshed out, there’s no agreement to what it does or does not include.
To Meta, the metaverse is all about the fake houses you can have and hang out in with your friends. Or with your friends' virtual avatars, for that matter.
Microsoft, on the other hand, thinks that it is a perfect place to onboard and train newcomers, hold company meetings, and do other kinds of remote gatherings.
The metaverse is here, and it’s not only transforming how we see the world but how we participate in it – from the factory floor to the meeting room. Take a look. pic.twitter.com/h5tsdYMXRD— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) November 2, 2021
The demand for metaverse
As the time moves forward, new, younger audiences long for more personalized and immersive media experiences, urging businesses to come up with the most out-of-the-box concepts.
Metaverse being one of them — a way to make hopping on the internet, communicating and interacting with peers feel new.
What can be more immersive than placing the audience right at the center of your content?
Just imagine that: you wake up in the metaverse, get your virtual cup of hot coffee, look at the virtual sunrise, and hop into your virtual car to go to your virtual job being local superman or whatever.
It’s virtual reality after all. Nobody wants to restock vending machines here.
And upon coming back to your virtual home, you sit down on a virtual couch, kick back, invite some virtual friends over to watch the latest episode of The House Of The Dragon.
And who knows: maybe you’ll want some metaverse-born Coke to go with it.
As far as businesses go, they seem to keep a close eye on things. According to Globe Newswire, the global metaverse market size is expected to grow from billion in 2021 to $225 billion in 2028, resulting in a CAGR of 37,8%.
We’ll get to the businesses’ role in this later. First, somebody gotta build those experiences.
Tech companies are jumping on the metaverse trends
Meta is not the only company dedicating resources to the metaverse development.
Many large companies like Nvidia, Unity, Roblox, and Snap, along with dozens of startups, contribute to our brand new digital future, laying the foundation for virtual world generation.
Looking to get into the metaverse?
Some companies provide the tools you will need to create 3D objects and environments that you will use in metaverse. For instance, Unreal Engine 5 helps with just that, allowing VFX artists from both game and movie studios to create beautiful and engaging worlds.
As for the digital assets that will become a part of those worlds, Epic Games acquires smaller companies who specialize in developing those assets along with the distribution systems.
So yeah — metaverse is still subject to a lot of changes before it hits the regular consumer market. But the core principle is there, and the companies continue to build the technological infrastructure for it.
Okay, but the infrastructure isn’t everything, right?
Take this analogy: there are a lot of people that play Fortnite, but not all of them are solely interested in shooting and building mechanics.
A good portion of the players enjoy the game for the content it offers. One month you get a Spider-Man skin and gloves that let you swing around the map like the famous wall-crawler, and the other you get to see an avatar of Travis Scott performing. Good stuff.
And there’s a lot more where that came from for the media and entertainment industry. Let’s talk about that.
Metaverse in media and entertainment
Though everybody is yet to settle on what metaverse actually means, some variants of it have already existed for some time. That also includes the media and entertainment industry.
Here are the major examples of what metaverse-like endeavors the media industry has been involved in and what they are doing now with more complex technology.
It’s all about virtual and interactive worlds — games seem the first thing that pops in mind when you think about it.
They have surely been on the metaverse trends for a while.
Starting with life simulators like The Sims and role-playing games like Gothic or Deus Ex, we got deep, interactive in-game worlds that felt alive. Because they each functioned under a particular set of in-game rules that the player also has to follow, the games felt like almost real environments.
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Now, the game studios and publishers are going further to enable more close interactions between players themselves and in-game environments. We have already mentioned that Fortnite brings a lot of immersive content, like music shows and skin drops, but it does not stop there.
In many games, players now can create, purchase, sell, or exchange all kinds of content. Get a new car for your character in GTA Online, trade skins in CS:GO — everything to keep the users engaged and interested.
When it comes to innovation, blockchain folks are popping their heads out on this one: at the end of 2022 - the beginning of 2023 Illuvium will hit the stores. This is an NFT-based RPG that will enable players to explore the world and acquire unique creatures — Illuvials.
That one is easy to get behind. Can’t travel across the world to see your favorite artist? Pull out your phone, laptop, or put on the VR headset if you fancy — and here you are, enjoying the show.
Apart from Travis Scott, the most prominent metaverse ambassador in this article, there are several other artists who have already jumped on the metaverse trend: the likes of DJ Marshmello and Ariana Grande, also got their moment of fame on the Fortnite map.
And just so you don’t think that everything revolves around Fortnite: Snoop Dogg has shot a music video for his track “The House I Built” off his recent album “B.O.D.R” on SandBox — the platform for building virtual environments.
Immersive metaverse trends are already being implemented in cinema as well, reshaping the way film crews make the content and the way we experience it.
Advanced tool sets like Unreal Engine 5 allow visual effects artists to create photo-realistic worlds which are full of details. The filmmakers can use their worlds as exotic locations for their story-telling.
Another part of it is the experience. I’m sure many of us at least heard about the work of David Cage, who has dedicated a whole video game studio to work on interactive stories.
Now we can get something of that sort with a more immersive twist to it. Like Arvora’s The Line — an interactive VR narrative experience that allows the viewers to live through the story of Pedro and Rosa. And not only that, the viewers have to actually interact with the virtual environments of The Line to help the story progress forward.
Metaverse in media and entertainment: AIHunters’ role
As we can see, there is already a lot of stuff media and entertainment businesses are doing to pave the way to the metaverse.
And of course, us being us, we can’t come by a recent development in the M&E industry and not try to automate it.
But we needed a little help with that.
So we have partnered with NVIDIA to work on a project of ours. NVIDIA has been involved with metaverse for some time now: they have started an Omniverse platform that facilitates the creation of 3D assets and environments along with a variety of tools that help make those environments as alive as possible.
Those tools include physics engines, voice solutions, RTX light studios, and many more.
But most importantly, they offer the hardware that makes it all happen.
Using the GPU capabilities of NVIDIA, we are set on having AI generate 3D content that can be further used in the metaverse.
Here’s how it’s gonna work.
We will take the sports field as an example. Relying on our Cognitive Computing algorithms, we can analyze the footage, figuring out the lighting, camera angles, perspectives, and movements.
Let us know how we can help you.
Then we can apply everything that we have learned to 3D assets and environments, basically generating new content. You can get 3D recreations of penalties or smart plays from any angle you desire. Use it for simulations, video games, sports analytics — whatever you want.
But there’s more. We got all of that data and 3D models, and we got the raw footage of the game, right?
So, we can use it to create better overlays for video, trace shots, put advertisers’ logos — do a lot of stuff. Automatically, with the help of AI.
Well, that is where we are today. Metaverse still has a long way to go, but right now many businesses have already figured out how they want to approach it to bring their customers new experiences.
We are definitely stoked for that.