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Disney+ releases its first AR-enabled short film, “Remembering,” starring Brie Larson • TechCrunch

Disney+ releases its first AR-enabled short film, “Remembering,” starring Brie Larson • TechCrunch

Today is Disney+ Day, and as part of the benefits, the company is offering Disney+ subscribers a new AR experience in connection with the short film “Remembering” starring and produced by “Captain Marvel” Brie Larson and directed and written by filmmaker Elijah Allan- Flash. The eight-minute film has a companion augmented reality app that allows users to scan the TV with an iOS device to see an extension of the film on the small screen.

In “Remembering,” Larson plays a writer who forgets an idea she had when her phone rings, interrupting her thoughts. The writer’s inner child – played by young actress Dusty Peak – helps her recover her lost idea, which is represented as a flying and talking cluster of lights, also voiced by Larson. The inner child lives in “The World of Imagination”, a wonderful wonderland full of rainbows, shooting stars and dolphin-shaped clouds.

The film aims to start a discussion about why it is important to remember your younger self and all the creativity you once had. In doing so, it explores concepts such as the origins of ideas and why adults can sometimes be reluctant to use their imaginations.

In previous years, Disney has created a number of AR experiences, but this is the first AR app that connects directly to content on the Disney+ platform, the company told TechCrunch. It’s an experiment to see if AR can serve to enhance film storytelling even when viewers are watching in their living rooms.

The “Remembering” AR component itself is designed to bring “The World of Imagination” alive to viewers by allowing them to engage with the film using their smartphones.

Image credit: Disney+

To engage in the AR experience, Disney+ viewers will scan a QR code on their TV screen that will allow them to download the “Remembering: The AR Experience” app, designed by technology studio Magnopus and Walt Disney StudioLab, on their iPhones or iPads. Users can also visit disney.com/remembering or search the App Store to find the new app.

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Viewers are meant to keep the app open while watching the movie. The AR app listens to audio signals by leveraging Apple’s ShazamKit technology. When it recognizes an important piece of audio around three minutes in, the device will ring, alerting users to pick up the phone and point it at the TV. A 10-second countdown then begins in front of the AR experience.

When users point their iPhone or iPad at the TV, they’ll see a waterfall cascading down to the floor, as well as dolphins, butterflies, trees, foliage, glowing flowers and other amazing digital elements.

The movie continues to play during the experience. You can watch on your TV screen or iPhone or iPad as Dusty’s character describes “The World of Imagination.” In the scene, a shooting star flies across the screen and dolphin-shaped clouds move in the sky and dive into “The River of Life”.

We tested the app ourselves and didn’t notice any issues. However, the AR experience only lasted a minute or less, and you can’t interact with the digital elements. However, you can choose to restart and replay it as much as you want.

Image credit: Disney+

The AR app is only available on iOS devices. There are currently no confirmed plans for the app to be available on Android devices. Viewers are not required to download the app to watch the film and can choose to have a passive viewing experience instead.

A former kindergarten teacher, filmmaker Elijah Allan-Blitz wanted to explore the idea of ​​what the imagination looks like from a child’s perspective. He worked on the project for two years, drawing inspiration from Peak’s ideas about fantasy to create the story, then enhancing it using AR. The film itself was then shot on a volumetric stage at NantStudios. With direct projection mapping on set, the team produced the light and movement for the personified “idea”.

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This allowed Brie and Dusty to perform while also seeing “amazing scenery around them instead of pretending,” the filmmaker explained.

“[‘Remembering’] is the first of its kind … We feel this is part of the future of how humanity will interact with entertainment,” said Allan-Blitz. “The AR experience moves away from a typical passive experience of streaming and allows viewers to engage with it in a deeper way. It makes it something you’re going to remember on a deeper level than just something you watch. It’s actually something you did, he added.

The filmmaker noted that while “Remembering” is for everyone to see, it’s really meant to be a “Trojan horse” designed to encourage adults to get in touch with their younger selves.

“It takes what makes art so wonderful and makes me feel like my job is worth something, which is to speak the unspeakable, to show the unknown, and to say that you can’t just see it from the outside, but you can participate in it,” Larson said. “Good luck. You are invited to join. And that invitation itself is just the beginning of what I hope will be many more conversations going along this path of how we can deepen the storytelling so that we can ultimately be more connected.”

Image credit: Disney+

“Remembering” is the latest project from The Great Unknown Productions, Larson and Allan-Blitz’s film and television company that aims to use technology to advance stories. The company previously produced a virtual reality series called “The Messy Truth,” which won a 2020 Emmy for Outstanding Original Interactive Program.

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While the duo didn’t say there’s another AR experience under their belt, they’re definitely thinking about it.

Disney+ declined to say whether it would introduce more AR-enabled features in the future.

“Time will tell,” the streamer told us.

The streamer is not the first to adopt AR, although rivals have only seen the technology as a means to market their projects and not directly improve them.

HBO Max recently promoted its “Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon” with an app called DracARys which allows users to raise a virtual dragon. The streamer also partnered with Snap to create a fire-breathing dragon in Snapchat Lenses. Apple TV+, meanwhile, launched an AR app called For All Mankind: Time Capsule, which gave fans the ability to interact with virtual objects from the show, such as photographs, a mixtape, letters and more. And Netflix gave Emmy voters a virtual AR experience with digital Easter eggs from Netflix original series, including “Ozark,” “The Crown” and “Stranger Things.”

The new “Remembering” AR app comes at a time when Disney is experimenting further with its streaming efforts. Recently, Disney+ dabbled in live streaming, announced a cheaper ad-supported tier and has begun exploring an Amazon Prime-like subscription that ties streaming to commerce.

The short film “Remembering” is available to watch on Disney+ on all devices, including Apple TVs, Roku devices, Amazon Fire devices and more.

Updated 9/8/22 at 3:15 PM ET removing the statement that Disney plans to make the app available on Android devices in the future.

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