The Cliché Spring Festival Gala Has Actually Been Making Innovation

摘要: Aside from all those cliché and tacky content people criticized and made fun of, we want to talk about Chinese people’s innovation on making entertainment content and mass communication.

(Chinese Version)

The Spring Festival Gala is, without a doubt, a perfect stage to create hot news topics as during the very new year’s eve lots of netizens made fun of the gala online, contributing a large amount of data flow centering the gala.

Aside from all those cliché and tacky content people criticized and made fun of, we want to talk about Chinese people’s innovation on making entertainment content and mass communication.

Whether it’s driven by innovation, or merely the incentive to keep up with new trends, the gala’s director team had adapted to technological changes. The audience could see technological improvements from the stage design and live stream method every year. Innovative tech improvements are increasingly becoming a great feature that the gala offers.

Looking back, in the 2016 Spring Festival Gala, the smartphones in our hands became the first portal for us to participate into the national event. It was an innovation on interacting channel. For instance, last year the gala used the Shake session to enhance the interaction with the audience. The audience only needed to open WeChat to have access to the Shake function. The smartphone would then analyze the sound in the surrounding area and determined if the Spring Festival Gala was playing. If it “heard” the sound of the gala, then the user could get a red packet. This seems to be a simple function, but it’s indeed the gala’s efforts to innovate on the ways it interacts with the audience.

The monkey year Spring Festival Gala had been impressive when 29 DJI drones showed up and gave a performance. DJI’s Phantom3 Pro, DJI Inspire 1 and DJI MG-1 all showed up in the event. DJI’s media team DJI Studio was the executive team.

Raffaello D’Andrea, the drone godfather who had been on the stage of 2016 T-EDGE, was also invited to participate in the gala performance selection process with a show featuring drones. Unfortunately, the cooperation couldn’t work out, but still from this you can tell the gala is indeed putting lots of energy on tech improvements.

Apart from that, we also saw the uprising of 3D special effect and holographic projection technology in previous years’ galas, and this year we had VR live stream and AR special effect.

Drones

If you paid attention, you would find that there were also drones performing for the 2017 gala. During the performance City of Fireworks, 50 DOBBY pocket drones performed an air show in formation.

In the beginning, 20 drones took off simultaneously and performed a series of highly complicated flight actions in formation. Then the 20 drones met with the other 30 drones and finished the show. The drone flight performance

Two singers performing with drones as their background

Two singers performing with drones as their background

DOBBY

DOBBY

It’s reported that this year’s DOBBY drones are from an emerging startup company named ZeroTech that TMTPost had reported before. Whether it’s last year’s DJI, or this year’s DOBBY, the drones all encountered issues like precise positioning, obstacle avoidance, and formation programing etc. The complex surrounding environment, such as the hangers, stage structure, LED screens, the lighting equipment and staff comm, also presents obstacles for the performance.

Besides that, live streaming scene is messy and there were lots of real-time adjustments going on. But for two consecutive years the drones all completed the performance in a stable state. And ROLLCAP, another drone model, was filming the gala, providing the audience with a new view.

TMTPost learned from ZeroTech’s Weibo that its team entered the gala production team in late December. It took them less than a month to finish the design, assessment and execution of the performance. Eventually they brought their drones to the stage.

It’s apparent that done might be the most efficient and down-to-earth technology in terms of entertainment and media content.

VR live stream

Besides the drone show, VR live stream also entered the stage of the Spring Festival Gala for the very first time.

Last year was also the year of live stream shows. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the gala also adopted live stream technology to expand the audience base. VR live stream is a new but not foreign technology and it has become a star feature on the Spring Festival Gala.

After all, VR nowadays is still not a mainstream live stream technology, but it’s highly exposed to the public. VR is still in the market education phase. Although it has been applied in major events such as Obama’s leaving speech and some divas’ concerts, it’s still far from being mainstream and the ultimate rating was not satisfying.

Many might be already familiar with VR and the reality is it is not an extremely innovative technology. Bigbang’s concert in Macau in October 2015 also adopted a 360°panoramic VR streaming technology. In 2016, there were also several concerts, NBA events etc. adopting such methods.

As an immersive output technology, VR has been applied in the gaming and video sectors mostly. And when it comes to live streaming, there are processes like panoramic, video editing, coding etc.

From video recording to production to distribution, VR live streaming requires a higher technological standard compared with the traditional technologies. And the investment we are talking about here is also higher than that of the traditional industry. That’s why VR promotion is taking off slowly.

Of course, CCTV has all the money it needs.

This time, IDEAPOOL built the VR panoramic video output system for the gala. The system includes functions like video recording, VR rendering, adjustments etc.

360°panoramic video

360°panoramic video

It’s reported that the VR production team installed four panoramic cameras at the performer entrance, makeup room, and the hallway. The team also achieved the output, recording and distribution of VR panoramic videos in Guilin, Harbin and Shanghai etc. And the VR content was live-streamed to the audience through CCTV’s apps.

VR live stream

VR live stream

Looking back at the year of 2016, which has been called the year of VR, the VR industry had undergone both the periods when it was thought highly of by the capital as well as abandoned by the capital. It had experienced ups and downs. Ultimately, the VR industry boasts a total value of $2.7 billion with the investment in the startup companies reaching $800 million.

In China, video sites such as Tencent, Iqiyi, Youku and LeTV etc. are all testing the waters in the VR live stream field. In oversea markets, giants like Oculus, HTC and Sony etc. are also constantly innovating their VR products. As technology advances, contents emerge, and the production cost continues to go down, VR terminals will increasingly become a true consumer product.

The uprising of an industry sometimes relies on a phenomenal product. For instance, Pokemon Go made LBS+AR concept a new hot use case, inspiring lots of gaming industry workers. Such idea isn’t new, but Pokemon Go made it pop and made people realize its true value.

So could the adoption of VR live stream technology on the Spring Festival Gala bring up a stir in the industry? To date there is no a concrete answer to that. Even looking from the search chart and feedback from industry insiders, it didn’t generate much of attention.

However, the 2016 Spring Festival Gala once adopted AR and holographic projection technology to construct an imaginary stage. The G20 Summit in Hangzhou hosted in September last year also used the holographic projection technology to showcase the performance Swarm Lake.

At this point, we can’t really define the connection between the former and the latter, and we can’t compare holographic projection technology with VR. But we can surely see the development path of a technology and its application.

And the rooster year’s Spring Festival is also a node that showcase the development of technology.

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(Like our Facebook page and follow us now on Twitter @tmtpostenglish and on Medium @TMTpost and on Instagram @tmtpost_english and on Apple News@TMTpost.)

[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Zhang Lin, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]

Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.

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