RealFeel Technology Implications

Warning: The following post contains spoilers about “The Take.” If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to avoid reading further until you do. 

Since “The Take” was e-mailed out by DSF yesterday, I received a lot of wonderful feedback. Some people loved the story, some hated it (as is always the fact with such things), some enjoyed it overall but had issues with certain aspects of it. 

Several readers took issue with the main character claiming that no one would want to watch movies or plays once RealFeel recordings became available. Dani Atkinson sent me a wonderful e-mail which, while critical of this aspect of the story, was an amazing examination of possible uses for RealFeel as it pertains to the arts. With Dani’s permission, I’m quoting it in full:

 Just received and read The Take. It fascinated me, but kinda frustrated me too. See, the story has the line “Who would bother to watch another movie or play, after that?” Which would make sense on the face of it, except…

Why would anyone read a book, when they could see it acted out in a play?

Why would anyone watch a play, now that there are movies?

Why would anyone watch a movie, now that there are video games?

But people DO. See, old art forms NEVER GO AWAY. They offer different experiences, that people seek out at different times and for different reasons.

And all I could think of while reading this story of this failed actor was how this technology would have REVOLUTIONIZED acting, instead of killing it.

Have you ever acted? In say, community theatre? It’s an incredible high. The adrenaline rush is every bit as intense as climbing a mountain. How many people dream of being actors? Who WOULDN’T pay top dollar for the chance to feel what it’s like to be a Broadway legend or a star of the silver screen?

And the really hardcore method actors, the ones who make a point of forcing themselves to really feel what the character feels, living the role from the inside out… I could see those guys as both the RealFeel’s biggest customers AND some of the biggest content generators.

This could bring live theatre from the audience perspective to dizzying new heights as well. For decades it’s been lamented that recordings can never truly capture the experience of live theatre. What if they could? I would have sold ORGANS for the chance to be in the audience at Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan’s “Waiting for Godot.” I would happily shell out cash for a RealFeel recording from somebody who was.

And as for movies… my god. Just… My god…

Can you fathom… can you IMAGINE… if every single time you watched Star Wars… was your VERY FIRST TIME?

I could see parents sitting their kids down to watch timeless classics, and strapping those things to their heads so they would always be able to recapture that glorious first experience. Until the copyright lawyers finally caught up and banned the practice.

Hell, I could see filmmakers deliberately selecting an audience of people that they knew were exactly the sort to be thrilled to pieces by whatever film they’re peddling in order to make and sell their OWN RealFeel recordings.

It could be a whole new format. The RealFeel edition. “Star Wars IV: A New Hope, As Watched By an Enthralled Ten Year Old Child.” “Artsy Classic That You Always Felt Guilty For Not Enjoying As Much As You Thought You Should, As Enjoyed By An Intellectual Film Historian And Critic Who Is Totally Geeking Out”

I could see some filmmakers refusing to release movies in anything BUT RealFeel, once they had a taste of that level of control over an audience’s responses and experiences. That could get creepy pretty fast. And conversely you’d get the rebel filmmakers who are all retro and refuse to have anything to do with RealFeel and it’d be like the current 3D or not 3D debates except more so.

Heh. So, the story fascinated me enough that I tracked your blog down so I could argue at you, but it felt like a bit of a missed opportunity. In my personal canon, I’m pretty much deciding that the protagonist in The Take is using Charlie Tan as a convenient excuse for why his career never took off, and willfully ignoring the actors who are doing just fine in a post RealFeel age. 😛

Dani’s assumption is pretty spot on. When writing this story I imagined the main character as a bit of a failure–he didn’t succeed in his career as an actor, and is also very low on the totem pole as RealFeel recording artist–which is why he’s involved in the third-rate production described.

The main character blames others for his problems, but this is him speaking and not the author. I don’t think future entertainment technologies (RealFeel? Holodeck?) will eliminate the need for books, plays and other pre-existing art forms for much the same reasons quoted above.

Also, it sounds like there will be a podcast version of “The Take” in a few months. I won’t go into details until this is finalized, but I’m thrilled that there are folks out there who liked the story well enough to want to produce it.

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