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Will the Xbox One Open Up New Opportunities for Filmmakers or Simply Be Business as Usual?

05.28.13 @ 2:29AM Tags : , , ,

Xbox One with Kinect and ControllerLast week Microsoft unveiled its successor to the Xbox 360, the Xbox One. While most gamers are concerned about how you’ll actually be able to play games on the device (including the loss of backwards compatibility and the issues with used games), Microsoft went out of their way to show off the device as an all-in-one home entertainment system. They reiterated how they want to integrate TV into the experience — even going so far as to add an additional HDMI port so that the Xbox becomes a pass-through device for cable or satellite boxes. There has been plenty of negativity about the changes, but might the focus on all around seamless entertainment actually open up new ways of storytelling?

If you missed it, here is an overview of the new Xbox One:

Original Content Push with the Xbox One

Microsoft wants to be into your living room, and they are making a big push for original content, including hiring Steven Spielberg to produce a Halo television series. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft handles its original content going forward. Will they take on a Netflix model and spend gobs of money in order to produce content on-par with the HBOs of the world? Will they opt to develop content similar to YouTube’s initiatives, and aim directly for kids and teens, who make up a large percentage of their audience? Or will they take a Windows approach, and attempt to please as many audiences and get in front of as many faces as possible?

If Microsoft wants to compete with actual cable in terms of original content, they’ll have to approach more than just Hollywood, so we could see much more original programming from new faces and new voices in the future. While it seems like they have been quiet on indie-developed, will they possibly open up indie channels for movies or TV shows with their new content initiative? This could be a quick way for them to gain a tremendous amount of original content, and it would certainly save them some money.

It will also be interesting to see how Microsoft and content makers use the “smart” capabilities of the system. Televisions with internet capabilities haven’t made too much of a dent in the home market, but a system like the Xbox One could find its way into 100 million homes. This could be the first real device for transmedia storytelling — one that combines gaming, movies, TV, and the web to deliver a unique experience for each that seamlessly folds into a single system.

Xbox One and 4K

This also could be the first device people own capable of playing and upscaling 4K content. It has been confirmed that the Xbox One will support 4K resolutions, but since the device will likely only have HDMI 1.4 inside, it will have a maximum resolution of 4K at 30fps. This will be fine for most movies, but if 4K support ever comes for games on the system (most games for the current Xbox 360 are only 720p), it may be a problem, as HDMI 1.4 is limited to 30fps at 4K. If we are going to experience 4K content on television sets in the near future, a console like the Xbox One or the PS4 is a logical delivery system — and they should both be great upscalers for 1080p content to 4K.

What do you guys think? What kinds of new storytelling do you think is possible with a device like this? Do you see the Kinect being used in ways that bridges the gap between movies and games? Let us know what you think below.



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  • Good read, I had no idea about the Xbox one and never heard of it until now

  • “might the focus on all around seamless entertainment actually open up new ways of storytelling?”

    No. I’m not sure how a lame console will make my storytelling better. Kinda just seems like a pointless post apart from the 4K, however that by itself is redundant considering absolutely nothing is released in 4K.

    • Thanks for keeping an open mind and have a great day! :)

      • Sorry for partaking in a discussion you started :)

        • Calling everything lame and pointless is usually a great way to end a discussion, haha

        • Tyler: “Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don’t have to agree with us to learn something”.

          No need to be an ass dude.

      • :D :D :D

      • “This could be the first real device for transmedia storytelling — one that combines gaming, movies, TV, and the web to deliver a unique experience for each that seamlessly folds into a single system.”

        That’s not pointless to me,….that’s awesome.

    • you make a compelling argument in support of your case

    • If nothing else, this platform will likely be a significant driver in 4k adoption.

      Tyler, you seem to be so eloquently putting the chicken before the egg.

      • Great way of putting it :) When are people gonna realise that people aren’t just gonna release 4K content when nobody has anything to play it on.

    • Considering video games have the highest grossing entertainment franchises of all time (call of duty) and further considering that this machine will cater to TV, cloud movies, Games, bluray, 4k, and original content .I cant think of a better tech to talk about when it comes to storytelling. I think this will shake things up more than the cameras that come out every month.
      Aside from this, another tech with xbox not talked about is illumiroom
      more immersive or a gimmick? Not sure but its at least trying to change the viewing experience

    • You guys are missing the point – Xbox one is just a normal console that has Smart TV capabilities. Gamers (who seem to be the target audience) absolutely hate the console and I doubt it will be the best port for 4K distribution when nobody uses it. If PS4 came out with 4K I would quickly say otherwise but distributing on Xbox is like getting people to buy an Xbox and lots of people won’t.

      But yeah, before you go off at me Joe didn’t actually give anything to suggest that the console actually would be a new way to tell stories. Congrats, I could push 4K but I go back to my original point – not many big franchises would actually be willing (or are ready at all) to ship 4K to the public. It’s completely redundant at this stage. Sure, we will have TVs and 4K players but to play what?

  • João Marco on 05.28.13 @ 4:05AM

    Nice photography and better acting are true ingredients in a storytelling… 2K or 4K, or even 720p, are just resolutions… not a path…

    Regarding games and back to the 90′s, Monkey Island had a really nice storytelling with excelent graphics, but in a VGA style… well… I don’t see how much games evolved since then with respect to the immersion and the way in which the story is told…

    • Neill Jones on 05.28.13 @ 5:02AM

      Have a go at Bioshock Infinite and then you will see how games have evolved with immersion and the way the story is told. The medium has moved on massively and this article is correct, as both major console providers are now blurring the lines between TV and gaming the storytelling medium of both forms of entertainment are going to be closer together than ever before.

      Imagine the final series of Breaking Bad ending on a cliffhanger that is then continued by an interactive story or open world sandbox game. Probably a simplistic example but how much closer could you come to Walt’s character if you could join him in his plight during his darkest hour. It could just end up being a gimmick or a cynical marketing ploy or it could open up a whole new world of creative possibilities and bring you closer to your most loved characters than ever before.

      And whilst we’re on the subject of Breaking Bad Video Games, love this video.

      • João Marco on 05.28.13 @ 7:50AM

        Yes, I must agree with you… Sure movies are a living animal… and like one it must be fed… a virtual world, yes, but that’s not an ingredient as I said… Great Music that’s storytelling… great lines… I believe new ways are next… and I hope this machine can do something for cinema… but a great book has ways that even the best machine cannot achieve… that’s what I trying to say… maybe one day, it can… but I believe not… :-) Anyway, I’m a for technology not against…

      • I would bounce off Neill’s point about games and tv being a blurred line by bringing up Syfy’s series Defiance. The released an multi platofrom videogame just a few weeks before the series stated ariing. Playting the game enchances the stories they are telling in the TV series, expanding the character archs, back stories and in some cases, choices that gameras are making are going to infulence certian story archs in the show. This is a great expierement and a huge gamble for Syfy, but at the same time, you can see how the act of telling a story with a visual meadium is not prone to just “film” and the lines between the genres is being blurred, but in a good way.

        With Netflix producing shows like House of Cards, Arrested Development getting crowd funding, the concept of an all in one entertainment system is not illogical or that far fetched moving forward. I am shocked at how many people chose to watch movies and tv shows on their mobile devices. If independent filmmakers can create content that is entertaining, engaging and tells a good story, there is no reason to think that the future collaboration betweens mediums will provide a support structure fro them to get their media out there. At the same time, a good story is not defined by the medium or gear as others have pointed out.

        The digital revolution I believe really opens up many doors that 20 years ago were not even in existence for people that really are creative and just want to share that with the world. As a gamer, I am a bit apprehensive about the Xbox One, but as NFS points out, being flexible and open to what the future has to offer is what being an Indie is all about. Being creative and thinking outside of the proverbial “box” is never a bad thing for making strides towards change.

        On a side note, 343 industries already produced a 90min feature centered around the Halo 4 storyline (Halo 4: Forward unto Dawn, which is available on netflix). This is another example of a video game and Film medium crossing paths. The Microsoft machine already has the working parts to support independent game devolpers through the inconcole game store, so its it’s not implausible they do the same with renting or providing digital downloads of films, shots and tv shows with user produced content.

        The future is what you make it.

  • Being able to watch your audiences heartbeat in real time certainly opens up possibilities for story telling. Its like being in the theatre with your audience right in front of you reacting straight away.

  • Is anyone else sick of how un-innovative microsoft’s commercials are? They bite apple every second they get.

  • Boy some people seem determined to miss the point.

    If you spend a huge amount of time to “tell a story” pretty soul destroying if no one sees it. Any potential distribution path/platform is of interest. And when it’s a company as big as microsoft and the Xbox gaming market, especially so. If you already happen to make content that might suit that market, it’s potentially huge news. And if you don’t, with news like this, you may consider it. It could ultimately change your business plan.

    Understanding your industry, how it’s evolving, and where it’s likely headed is vital as a film maker if you wish to tell stories that people actually see, let alone make a living doing it.

    To this end, there’s been some great blogs emerging on NFS which I think reveal the vision you guys obviously have in serving/helping/shaping/educating the content makers out there. And it’s much appreciated by this one. Cheers guys.

    (Some good posts too – cheers Neil & Tbone)

    • I’m confused as to how this is a new path. you can play games (from online) browse the internet (from online) and watch TV… so basically everything everyone else could do before.

  • I feel the xbox one is Microsoft’s way of combating the current movement to getting rid of traditional gatekeepers and instead having creators interacting with their audiences without having to get money and distribution from a company like micrsoft.

    To be able to have films on the xbox one, as far as I understand you have to get approval from micrsoft etc, unless people access them youtube/vimeo through the xbox one, but then you can already do that on many existing devices. Kind of like to be able to have an app on the iphone you need to get approval from apple. Then these companies also have a lot of power in deciding what content comes up first.

    I think the future of interactive storytelling is based around the good ole computer and real world interactions. Generally when I play console games I just want to be immersed in the game and not on twitter/facebook. Compared to if I watch a doco that has an online component that encourages you to tweet a message at such and such, send in your story around whatever issue the film is about and then organise an event in your part of the world.

    Guess it depends where your target audience is, but to me the xbox one is very much around consuming content rather than participating in creating it.

  • A lot depends on how much money Nancy Tellem gets to play with but a wallet slightly ajar is still better than the one tightly closed. To me, it makes more sense for them to go big budget sport and action features than TV or low budget indie.

  • I think what will be more exciting is the upgraded kinect. Some people have been using the previous generation to do cheap motion capture and the next version apparently has greater sensitivity, apparently even identifying the number of fingers.

  • A 600 euro gaming console is discussed as a potential distribution platform??

  • I have to agree that its just MS trying to find a way to force people to use “their” gear for everything. They have made it fairly obvious Gamers are no longer their target audience. I have been a huge console gamer most of my life (starting with intellivision), but i am skipping this years crop of next gen.
    If you want to see a true game changer start following what Valve is doing with the Steam Box. Gabe Newell has even had it with MS, he is making Steam Box a Linux based HTPC/Gaming console, with several price point setups and the option for a user to change to windows OS. Since they already have a huge PC gaming base with Steam, it has a real chance to make it.

  • If Microsoft does end up making an effort to grab original video content for its Xbox One, as it already definitely does for video games, I could see there being some interesting competition here between it and any other set-top boxes. Based on the focus of their press conference announcing the console, there will definitely be a large focus on television content and its integration with other services and interactive elements. Digital video distribution as pertaining to independent movies or series wasn’t really addressed, though (much like independently-produced video games). So, at this point, while there’s an interesting potential for content on the console, Microsoft certainly hasn’t shown itself to have made any particular moves in that direction. Sony, on the other hand, seems to at least be directly addressing independent video game creators; it’s equally yet to be seen, however, if Sony will focus as much attention towards the likes of similarly-produced independent film and video.

    Going forward, as 4K and Ultra HD content becomes more common in distribution, consumers buy into the Ultra HD television market, and digital distribution takes off further, I could see the Xbox One, and the PlayStation 4 right alongside it, being important hubs through which people consume higher-resolution video. Right now there are a limited number of 4K-capable media devices; having the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 released into the market by the end of this year will give Microsoft and Sony a leg up on their competition from the likes of Red, with its Redray. Just as some purchased a PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 2 for Blu-ray or DVD playback functionality, respectively, back closer to their product launches, I could see some purchasing a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One for Ultra HD content, among other reasons.