M&E Connections

Paramount Jumps on Augmented Reality Bandwagon

After multiple virtual reality (VR) initiatives, Paramount is now giving augmented reality (AR) a try, with a free AR app for iOS users to coincide with the release of the Paramount Pictures movie “Transformers: The Last Knight” on 4K Ultra-High Def (UHD).

It’s the studio’s “first augmented reality experience” and was created by Viacom’s VR team, Viacom NEXT, using Apple ARKit technology, Paramount Home Media Distribution said in a news release Nov. 21. The app incorporates content from the most recent film in the Transformers movie series, “Transformers: The Last Knight,” the Paramount Pictures division said.

ARKit, included in iOS 11, is a new framework developed by Apple that lets users easily create AR experiences for iOS devices. Using ARKit, “we can seamlessly bridge virtual and physical worlds to create immersive experiences that bring storytelling to life,” Chaki Ng, SVP of Viacom NEXT, said in the announcement.

The “Last Knight” app overlays 3D graphics onto a user’s surrounding physical space, which was “designed as the virtual junkyard” of protagonist Cade Yeager as seen in the movie that was released theatrically earlier this year. Players control the actions of the Transformer Bumblebee, “directing his movement while hitting, blowing up and interacting with various objects, which can be added to expand the interactive environment,” the company said.

“This augmented reality experience gives fans the chance to interact with the Transformers universe in a new and exciting way,” Howard Hsieh, VP of Worldwide Digital Business Development at Paramount Home Media Distribution, said in the news release.

He added: “The Transformers films appeal to a vast and diverse audience and we’re excited to give fans the opportunity to get in the driver’s seat and take Bumblebee for a ride.”

The experience is free to download from the iOS App Store until Feb. 20, 2018, Paramount said. Users can also order Transformers: The Last Knight on 4K with high dynamic range (HDR) through the app, it said, adding the Transformers five-movie collection will also be available on 4K HDR for purchase exclusively on iTunes starting Nov. 21.

Paramount didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on why it waited so long to try AR and why it selected the Transformers movie for its first effort.

For the theatrical release of “Transformers: The Last Knight,” the film’s director, Michael Bay, created a VR experience that was shown over the summer at IMAX VR Centers, as well as inside select AMC movie theater lobbies, during the theatrical run of the movie.

Other Paramount VR initiatives have included the VR movie theater it’s creating with Bigscreen that will reportedly feature VR headsets from companies including Facebook’s Oculus, HTC, Microsoft and Samsung. The 3D version of Paramount’s “Top Gun” is expected to be the first VR title to be shown at the theater.