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in Filmmaking
on Jan 28, 2010

I posted a vaguely impressed impression of the iPad yesterday just after the Apple press conference was over. Of course, 24 hours later, I’m thinking about the details, good and bad. The big downer is Apple’s reintroduction of the 4:3 format (1024×768). That means that watching a 16:9 movie on your iPad will give you big black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. Obviously, Apple had to make a choice regarding screen dimensions and they went with one that trades off in film and TV what it will gain with other forms of content. Nonetheless, it’s not the immediately great handheld device for watching movies I thought it might be. There’s no camera, so webchats are out, and no camera plus no GPS (well, there’s AGPS…) means that certain games and augmented reality applications aren’t appropriate either. And, no USB makes it hard to load your own media onto the device, which may be the point.

On the other hand, this version of the iPad is definitely a transitional device, and, as I noted yesterday, there’s a lot that filmmakers can do with the new apps made possible by the iPad screen size. At Fresh DV, filmmaker Ryan Bilsbarrow-Koo, one of our 25 New Faces who blogs at NoFilmSchool, has come up with seven ways the iPad will affect filmmakers, and app potential is one of them. He says it way better than me:

It’s a book, it’s a movie, it’s… an app

Anthony Zuiker (CSI) released a “digi-novel” last year, wherein a printed book contained a URL every 20 pages; readers could enter the URL into a browser and watch a related online video. In a lot of ways transmedia storytelling to date has been mostly about promotion (The Dark Knight, for example, used an Alternate Reality Game to promote its theatrical release), but the iPad offers a different set of possibilities: instead of these experiences existing as separate, promotional entrypoints, they can all be brought together on one platform. This is not to say that a project can’t have a live component that exists separately, but the iPad will play a pivotal role in bringing together different forms of storytelling: words, still images, moving images, audio, and interactive experiences can all live together on one handheld, connected device. The iPad will profoundly blur the line between book, movie, and game, and it will do so by offering these new-media experiences for sale through iTunes as… an application. When you’re developing a cross-platform story, what happens if you can’t define your project along clear lines? Should I say it? “There’s an app for that.”

Click on the link for the other six reasons.

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