philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Magic Leap goes to the theater

dims-10Magic Leap touted the idea that these experiences can immerse the audience better than a 2D screen, or allow the flexibility of watching from different angles. But the narrow field of view and small figures on a stage that's meant to be viewed from the front anyway hardly make it a TV replacement.

Instead, these demos were more compelling as indicators of Magic Leap's intention to merge with traditional art forms.

He's interested in real-time tabletop theater, a West End production in your living room as it takes place on stage -- similar to National Theatre Live, which already exists in cinemas.

Audiences sitting in theaters could also don Magic Leap headsets, allowing organic and synthetic production elements to merge. In "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Lanning says, a fairy could come out from the stage and fly in front of you. (He also warns, though, that "we don't want to oversaturate the experience").

More interesting is how technology can create an altogether new grammar of theater.

That shift likely won't be made solely by mixed reality. The future of theater doesn't hinge on one technology but the confluence of them. Lanning cites the UK's Secret Cinema as an organization that creates immersive theatrical experiences that start online, where you're assigned a character to play for the evening, before you're even physically present at the show.

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