Nintendo offers Augmented Reality for masses

New device to come with software installed

Digital tech has taken entertainment out of the theater or concert hall and made it ubiquitous. Music lovers can carry an entire record collection on their iPods or watch their movies anywhere on their smartphones.

Now the Nintendo 3DS promises to further merge entertainment with daily life by introducing Augmented Reality Gaming to the masses.

Chris Morris and Mark Schilling, who report today on the announcement that the Nintendo 3DS, the handheld device offering autostereo (i.e., 3D without glasses), alerted us to the fact that the 3DS will support Augmented Reality and come with AR games preinstalled.

AR, which combines computer-generated information and the real world on a computer screen, is just trickling into the marketplace. Hollywood has been quick to seize on it; so far it’s been used mainly for marketing tie-ins (Daily Variety, Nov. 20).

But AR Gaming (ARG) is where things get interesting. Simple AR apps might let a user point a front-facing camera in a smartphone down the street and see a real-time display of travel info, restaurant reviews or other fun facts. Picture going to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, turning your iPhone toward the concrete footprints and seeing the stars standing there on your screen. You get the idea.

The same technology could turn any real-world location into the setting for a vidgame. Picture dodging zombies while walking through Times Square and you can see the potential of ARG.

Besides its autostereo screen, the 3DS has a front-facing camera, and Nintendo is definitely pushing its ARG capabilities.

“Because the Nintendo 3DS generates 3D images, it is a great match for AR, because the 3D viewing can add to the realism of the world created by the Augmented Reality,” Nintendo prexy Satoru Iwata told the Nintendo press conference Wednesday. “We would like everyone, not just the purchasers of Nintendo 3DS, but also the people surrounding them, to experience this unusual feeling.”

There has already been excitement about the 3DS as a device for bringing the 3D experience to the street — and showing consumers what 3D without glasses will be like.

If it and other 3D mobile devices catch on in a big way, though, they’re also likely to hasten the day when AR gaming becomes the Next Big Thing.

Vancouver has attracted top visual effects and animation companies, including Pixar, Digital Domain and Technicolor’s Moving Picture Co.

Now it’s luring talent, too. Seth Maury has ankled Sony Imageworks in Los Angeles to join MPC in Vancouver. Already onboard at MPC are Matt Welford, formerly of New Zealand-based Weta and Guillaume Rocheron, formerly of Buf in Paris. MPC’s talent lineup also includes home-grown Canadian Erik Nordby. Look for more talent to migrate to Vancouver as tax incentives lure more digital production.

Bits & Bytes:

Visual effects studio Rising Sun Pictures of Australia has come onboard Warner’s “Green Lantern.” Sony Pictures Imageworks is the lead vfx studio on the pic … Four high-tech trade orgs have joined forces to create the High Tech Spectrum Coalition to lobby for legislation to allow the FCC to hold voluntary incentive auctions. HTSC comprises Consumer Electronics Assn., Information Technology Industry Council, Semiconductor Industry Assn. and Telecommunications Industry Assn. … Creatasphere announced the first-ever winners of the DAMMY Awards for Digital Asset Management. Taking home kudos: DAMMY of the Year — Jason Bright, MediaBeacon; best storage, archive and or preservation solution – UPS; best example of asset & media repurposing — interaktion for Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH); best strategy or solution for digital & media asset management during the acquisition of content — Light Iron Digital, Michael Cioni … The Northern California chapter of the Visual Effects Society is presenting “Exploring 3D Stereo Do’s and Don’ts” Oct. 9 at Kerner Group’s HQ in San Rafael. Speakers include ILM’s John Knoll, Fotokem’s John Nicolard and Pixar’s Bob Whitehill. … To make a point about how small live TV gear has become, NewTek has set up an HD production truck in a Mini Cooper and sent it on a 5,500 mile, 12-city tour from San Antonio to Phoenix. … Ron Greenberg has joined Avid as senior VP of marketing. … Todd-AO has standardized on the Christie CP2230 DLP Cinema projector for its facilities … Cinedigm will begin Phase 2 deployment of d-cinema systems at the 250-screen Dickinson Theatres chain. Twenty-five screens are to be converted to digital immediately, the rest within 12 months … Ntropic reteamed with helmer Len Wiseman to do visual effects on CBS’s revived “Hawaii Five-0” … Stewart Filmscreen has introduced its “Daily Dual” screen system for screening rooms and other facilities that need to switch back and forth between silver and white screens. Stewart has also bowed new projection screens aimed at high-end home theater. “Gallery” and “Couture Collection” lines aim to compliment home decor … Maxon is offering training sessions for Cinema 4D Release 12 at several conferences and seminars this fall … ABC’s “Detroit 1-8-7” is shooting with Panasonic’s HPX3700 HD camcorder… Cablevision is using the Zodiac Interactive PowerUp platform for enhanced television (eTV) and interactive television (iTV) products and services … Philadelphia-based Dive did 87 vfx shots for Hammer Films’ “Let Me In” … Hollywood-based Grand Jete designed the opening and closing titles for “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” … Fotokem’s Keep Me Posted has upgraded their existing Digital Vision Nucoda Film Master grading system and purchased a second one … The Nucoda Film Master system was used to grade Warner’s “Legend of the Guardians” … Ukrainian TV channel Ukraine has placed an order for 14 HD cameras, two large production switchers and all necessary modular equipment from Grass Valley.