A quick Google search of the term “extended reality” would have you believe it’s a blanket phrase used to encompass all of the “realities”—AR, VR and MR. But the technology is much more nuanced. When you break it down, the use of extended reality generally requires LED video walls and flooring to form a backdrop for a speaker or performer, along with camera-tracking technology and media servers that render 3D content in real time based on the position of the camera. Together, the technologies place the individual in a fully immersive, 360-degree virtual environment.
It’s no wonder, then, that the possibilities for using extended reality to enhance virtual events are vast. From music performances, to corporate panels, the tech can be used to liven up a broad array of experiences. With more and more brands incorporating extended reality into their virtual events, we sat down with three experts to gather tips on what it takes to effectively leverage the technology.
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You’ll Need Budget and Technical Expertise
No way around it, extended reality requires deeper pockets than other technologies. For one, you’ll need access to a green screen room with LED walls and flooring, and camera-tracking technology, for capturing content. In addition, a tech specialist is needed to stich everything together.
“The technology is pretty cutting-edge. We’re talking about real-time animation and video game engines, so it does require some specialized talent,” says Kyle Ruebsamen, svp-creative services at NVE Experience Agency.
Know That Your Lead Times Will Increase
Depending on the complexity of the content you’re producing, you may need some extra lead time to incorporate extended reality into a virtual event. While creating one simple virtual environment might not be time-consuming, creating multiple environments will require more planning.
“Creating a show in XR requires a robust creative and technical process,” says Attila Keskin, ceo and founder at DesignScene. “You are, in some ways, creating a scene in an animated movie or, if budget permits, an entire storyboarded journey. It requires a high level of creativity and the merging of creative and technical heads to create the best results. The final results are based on a fine balance between detail and processing speeds as this is done in real time–this is referred to as optimization. Anyone who has to create renders for a project will know the balances that need to be struck.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Test the Technology
Like many of the event technologies that came before it, extended reality can seem daunting to newcomers. But the experts say marketers should embrace the technology, even if they’re still learning how to leverage it. Case in point: At this year’s virtual AIM Independent Music Awards, the Association of Independent Music (AIM) incorporated extended reality into multiple music performances. Now, the organization can’t wait to try the tech out again.
“The beauty with XR is that it offers the opportunity to transform the ordinary into extraordinary,” says Guy Lowman, senior event manager at AIM. “Used in the right way, XR can provide a richer event experience and offers your guests/consumers/sponsors added value… It’s a fantastic way to enhance your event and offers many opportunities to be innovative and creative.”
Remember: It’s Not Just for Consumer Audiences
Extended reality is often leveraged to enhance experiences like virtual music performances, but it can be used in more corporate settings, too. Really, it’s just another avenue for engaging digital audiences.
“If you could imagine a b-to-b conference where you were demoing a new product, you could have that product appear virtually in the hand of the presenter and expand on that with all sorts of animations,” Ruebsamen says. “You could break the product apart, show it inside, have them interact with this virtual object that’s on screen, essentially, and have it look like it’s physically in the space with the presenter.”