Help me, George Clooney. You’re my only hope. If that mash-up of cultural references doesn’t make sense, it will momentarily.
To promote The Midnight Sky, the new film starring George Clooney and dropping via Netflix on December 23 (Happy Festivus), the streaming studio is launching an augmented reality experience that gives consumers the ability to record and send holographic messages, not unlike the iconic plea for help sent by Princess Leia in Star Wars: A New Hope.
The web-based AR experience, which is available at the film’s website, was built on 8th Wall’s web-based AR platform and converts video messages into 3D holograms. After you record your video message, the web app applies a filter that gives the video a curved, 3D appearance. You can then send the recording to others, who can then play back the experience in AR on a horizontal surface. As an added bonus, you can also view an AR message from Clooney himself.
The AR experience, which was created by UNIT9, mirrors the fictional AR technology displayed in the film, which centers on Clooney’s character, a researcher isolated in the Arctic whose mission is to warn astronauts against returning to a post-apocalyptic Earth. Throughout the film, the astronaut characters interact with holographic recordings of loved ones to overcome the loneliness of space. (Back on Earth, Clooney’s character also reviews AR topographic maps on a holo-table in another instance of Star Wars AR influence.)
The arrival of film and its companion AR experience also comes at a time when video messaging services are in high demand due to their ability to connect friends and family now that social distancing is recommended to protect the public from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is the first time that this technology has been used to send messages like this, and we couldn’t have created it at a better time as people continue to look for creative ways to see loved ones in their homes while staying safe and apart,” said Yehuda Duenyas, experiential director at UNIT9, in a statement. “Although people remain distanced from their loved ones this holiday season, they are still craving connection with family and friends, so we set out to help foster these connections through innovative technology.”
Netflix is not as active in promoting its properties via augmented reality as HBO, which has turned to AR to build hype for His Dark Materials_, Watchmen, Game of Thrones, and Westworld. But Netflix has dipped its toes into the immersive waters previously. In the recent past, the streaming giant promoted its hit series Stranger Things with AR experiences via Facebook, Snapchat, and Google Lens. The company also leaned on Facebook to add an AR experience to its comic book, “The Magic Order”. Now that there’s growing competition from streaming services such as HBO Max, Disney Plus, and Apple TV Plus, Netflix may increasingly entertain innovative approaches like AR to promote its properties.
Meanwhile, for 8th Wall, the promotion is another addition to its impressive portfolio, which includes AR interactions for brands like Toyota and Miller Lite and entertainment properties like Spider-Man and Jumani, and music artists like Pink Floyd and Snoop Dogg.