Television isn’t disappearing, but it is changing.
Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a trend that was already visible across the globe: we’re spending more and more time with our media. But even as the media pie gets bigger and bigger, not everyone is getting an equal slice. Over the past decade we’ve seen new media like podcasts and emergent social platforms like TikTok start to encroach on the audience share typically given over to legacy media like broadcast television and theatrical releases. Gaming is by far the most dominant of these upstarts, having officially out-earned television and box office receipts in terms of revenue as early as 2018. The pandemic sent this dynamic into overdrive, as the number of gamers in the U.S. exploded to 226.6 million (over a 30% increase since 2019), spending a record 11.6 billions dollars in the second quarter of 2020 alone.
But this doesn’t mean television is an industry dinosaur watching the approach of its own personal extinction event. While new forms of entertainment become a larger and larger part of our lives, we’re also seeing that these are less likely to supplant our former viewing habits than to simply change them. The television industry has already adapted to the streaming revolution, and now it’s adapting the gaming one. We’re calling the confluence of the two hyperreality.
Gaming technology like Unreal Engine and Unity are helping radically transform traditional television pipelines. Rather than costly location shooting, custom robotics and time-consuming visual effects builds, these game engines can craft real-time, immersive environments that are more adaptable and more practical than traditional green screening or rotoscoping.
And virtual reality technology like motion capture and real-time animation allows performers to react to realistically modeled environments, and to choreograph dynamic, physically substantial performances. For reality television, this allows for a more natural response from non-actors, and for production crews, this means more is ready for them on production day, rather than backloading work for the post-production team.
In its simplest terms, hyperreality is when reality becomes indistinguishable from simulation. Real performers fit seamlessly into fantastic environments, and contestants compete across physics-defying courses. It brings the lean, collaborative ethos of game design to full-scale television and film production, and attracts a globally surging community of gamers who have grown up accustomed to immersion, immediacy and interactivity.
- Dark Slope is currently looking for partners to bring hyperreality productions to life. Are you a from a broadcaster, streamer or commissioner and keen to learn more? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org