The shift towards mobile is here. There is no denying that in the past 10 years the viewing habits of the consumer have trended towards consumption via smaller, more mobile devices. This poses a conundrum for directors who aim to craft their stories for a theatrical experience. How does a director who stages scenes for a 20 by 50 foot projection simultaneously optimize [it] for a four by two inch screen held in the hand? And, why should they?
Is there a way to creatively tackle this problem to maintain the immersive integrity of the big screen and simultaneously create a complementary unique immersive experience on the small screen?
The realities of digital distribution and modern viewing habits is acting as a force function on directors, producers and distributors. They must keep the small-screen experience in mind to ensure they reach the broadest possible audience, multiple times over. According to Nielsen ratings, mobile viewership is up in the double digits. In fact, at least 72 percent of mobile users use their device weekly to view video content. Couple those findings along with the lowest theatrical audience attendance numbers in years and the message from audiences of all demographics is, content needs to be accessible whenever, however and wherever.
Of course, with every new change to a cherished medium there are detractors. Many in the entertainment industry are trying to fight the focus on mobile for long form content. Some directors generally do not like viewers to watch a movie on a mobile device because it is next to impossible to capture the theatrical experience on such a small screen. The drop in theater attendance is especially daunting for them, since the theater provides an uninterrupted immersive and communal experience that is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate on a mobile device.
If mobile viewing is not going away anytime soon, and the theatrical experience is just that – a theatrical experience – then it’s time to create a mobile experience alongside or as a companion piece to every film created today. To accomplish this, the creative minds within the entertainment industry need to embrace a new creative process to capture the mobile user’s attention and allow filmmakers to adapt to the audience’s needs; so they can showcase aspects of the theatrical experience on a smaller screen. For this case, a whole new creative medium is needed. This is where we can make the case for haptics, the ability to bring the sense of touch as a part of the artistic story line.
Unlike other forms of entertainment, the mobile user is actually holding the viewing device in their hand, giving directors the opportunity to allow the viewer to feel the movie experience like never before. With the implementation of haptics, directors can convey feelings or moments with the use of touch feedback, enhancing the viewer’s experience and creating a more engaging, fun and exciting experience for the smaller screen. This is a unique opportunity, since mobile is the only medium where the audience has the movie at the tips of their fingers and this interaction cannot be rendered in the same way in a theatrical experience. The sense of touch is a whole new element to the media landscape and it will provide directors with a new creative outlet, in turn, providing merit to the small screen viewing experience so many viewers already utilize.
Immersion anticipates that haptics will be a core part of mobile content in the future, much like when sound was first introduced to moving pictures and adopted over time. Haptics can ensure broader audience reach as a new and compelling enhancement to the story that can only be felt on a mobile device. When haptics are added to content, it is proven that the viewer pays attention for a longer period of time. The experience becomes more immersive, just like adding surround sound or high-end visual effects.
Filmmakers have always embraced new technology. Because of this, they have improved technology and made the art of storytelling more and more compelling for their audience. Touch is a perfect creative solution for mobile. It differs from the other forms of digital technology that are being explore right now as it doesn’t try to alter audio or video. You are not required to buy fancy glasses, a headset, or better quality audio equipment in order to view it. Consumers are not expected to grow accustomed to touch. It’s already ingrained in the natural way that we experience the physical world. These are the reasons why haptics has the ability to revolutionize the entertainment space. It is the next natural addition in this ever-evolving medium; whether it be for mobile devices now or the viewing devices of the future.