Google Sharing Glass With Film Schools to Inspire Creativity

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-08-01
Google Glass

Google Sharing Glass With Film Schools to Inspire Creativity

Google is sharing some of its coveted Google Glass eyewear-mounted computers with several film schools around the United States to see how they might inspire young filmmakers to use them.

Plans for the loans of the devices through the Glass Creative Collective, which is a Google partnership with film and design schools, were unveiled in a July 30 post by the Glass team on the project's Google+ page.

"We're really interested to find out how Glass will contribute to the craft of storytelling, specifically through film," states the post. "So, we reached out to various film schools, including The American Film Institute,  the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts),  the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and the University of Southern California (USC). They'll start exploring how Glass can be used in production, documentary filmmaking, character development and things we haven't yet considered."

Scott Fisher, the dean of research at USC's Cinematic Arts department, told eWEEK that three or four students there will be working with the devices along with faculty members through the fall semester.

"We're actually the first to get the Glass units," said Fisher. "We have three of them for about a month. We've been doing a lot of work in virtual reality, augmented reality, such as superimposing computer graphics and other things onto everyday surroundings," so the Glass devices will add more to the work of students.

"We'd been following the development of Glass and had proposed some ideas to people we knew at Google, telling them 'wouldn't it be great if we could try out some entertainment aspects of Glass?'" Google responded and told school officials that the timing for such discussions was good and asked for more ideas about what students might do with the units.

One film genre for which Glass is being eyed is the documentary, said Fisher. "One of our research groups looks at new ideas in documentaries, such as where the footage is embedded wirelessly in a building" and is location-specific, such as capturing a wall being built in a structure—from the worker's point of view.

In the past, students even built a construction hard hat featuring portable stereo cameras mounted on top to capture just what the construction worker was seeing, he said. "That's what we had been doing. It was a pain in the butt to shoot all that and then have to embed it. Then, along comes Google Glass. If we could have given the workers Glass to shoot the footage, it would have been easier."

Glass units can also be used by students for other point-of-view experiments in films, in which the cameras can capture visuals from the wearer's point of view, he said. Classic films of the past, including "Lady in the Lake" and Humphrey Bogart's "Dark Passage," both from 1947, showed the power of point of view in such films, he said.

"What we're trying to do is to explore this idea of multiple viewpoints, such as how they can overlap and how they can be presented on the screen," said Fisher. "Glass makes this much easier than the huge cameras used in 'Dark Passage' and 'Lady in the Lake.'"

Google Sharing Glass With Film Schools to Inspire Creativity

Glass units also offer new possibilities for the film students because the units can broadcast through Google+ Hangouts, so students can "think about new broadcasting viewpoints that they can send out to a wider audience," he said.

"In films, we might use Glass to follow a character as they move through the story, such as backstage at a concert," said Fisher. "We're playing with a lot of different aspects of this with our student team. We hope to have a few example films done by the end of the semester or January or February timeframe."

Google Glass has been a topic of conversation among techies since news of it first arrived in 2012. The first Google Glass units began shipping in April to developers who signed up at the June 2012 Google I/O conference to buy an early set for $1,500 for testing and development, where it was the hit of the conference. Google also then began shipping Glass units to lucky users who were selected in a contest for the opportunity to buy their own early versions of Glass. In February 2013, Google expanded its nascent test project for its Glass eyewear-mounted computer by inviting interested applicants to submit proposals for a chance to buy an early model and become part of its continuing development.

In March, Google also began notifying a pool of applicants who were selected to purchase the first 8,000 sets of Google Glass when they become available for real-world use and testing later this year by consumers. Those selected applicants have been receiving their units in waves.

Each Google Glass device includes adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also feature a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio is delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers.

Google Glass isn't yet ready for the general public, but sales of the devices are now expected to begin sometime later this year, according to a recent eWEEK report. That's at least months earlier than the 2014 retail debut the company had been targeting since last year, a source inside Google told eWEEK. The source would not elaborate on why the retail launch schedule is being moved up.

The concept of Google Glass has been a hit so far for Google, but some critics argue that they continue to be worried about the privacy implications surrounding the use of Glass, which is an eyewear-mounted computer that features a still camera, a video cam and other real-time recording features.

Glass units have been going through a series of monthly software updates that are adding new features and improvements. Earlier in July, Glass updates included improved and expanded voice command capabilities that allow Glass users to do more things without having to touch any Glass controls.

The update was the third so far for Glass. In June, Glass got a big upgrade for its camera with the release of new software that now better detects low-light situations and includes automatic high-dynamic-range (HDR) photo-taking capabilities. The first software update for Glass arrived in May, when features such as incoming Google+ notifications for users were added.

Google recently conducted an "experiment" that offered an unknown number of early Google Glass Explorer users a chance to invite a friend to also buy and use the eyewear-mounted computers.

The emailed offers were mentioned by several early Google Glass users on Google+, including details about how offer recipients could extend an invitation to obtain a Glass unit to a friend who meets certain requirements.

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