Dystopian AR movie “SIGHT” gets a sequel (if we help out until August, 10th)

Hi everyone,

only three days left for the kickstarter campaign of the RobotGenius guys. They created the 2012 AR dystopian classic “SIGHT” and I thought it’s about time to chat with Daniel and Eran on the home stretch of the funding. Maybe you feel like checking it out and support their cause! Please find the below uncut talk and enjoy SIGHT (and then SIGHT:Extended)!

Sight from Robot Genius on Vimeo.

Hi guys, happy to chat with you. I was really exited to hear that you are creating a new short on AR after your big impact short “SIGHT” from almost 7 years ago. I loved the movie, not only because of the Black Mirror aftertaste with “I don`t want that” feeling. But also for the nicely integrated AR elements and interface designs that make it very convincing – it could work like that. I`m sure you received lots of mails and feedback back then – until now. What was the overall feedback? More people asking where to buy? Or people blaming you to make everybody afraid of augmented reality?

Hi Tobias, thanks for having us. We indeed got a lot of feedback from people all over the world, it was very diverse and sometimes a bit amusing as well. Some thought our film was based on a real product and asked where could they buy it, some even offered us investments in order to develop it into a working product. But mostly we got positive feedback from people who liked the short film and thought it raised important points about the dangers in Augmented Reality. In fact, one of them was an AR company called Meta, who was so impressed by our film and vision, that they offered us to come and work for them.

Wow, nice. Seems like you didn’t join. Well, maybe you can briefly comment on your background for my readers. What is your day-job not being at Meta and why did you want to create a movie on AR in the first place?

Daniel and I are filmmakers. We have our own boutique film studio called Robot Genius where we mainly work with big tech companies and create commercial content such as futuristic concept videos for future products, social media commercials, VFX and more. In the past three years we’ve been working specifically in the AR industry, with people who are working on the very technology that Sight foretold. The idea to create a story about Augmented Reality started with Daniel. He wanted to design holographic interfaces (we have a bachelor degree in visual communication and design) and I wanted to make a thought provoking film. So together we built a story that combined the two.

Seems like a good match. How close do you follow the AR/VR scene? Have you tried tried all the AR devices like HoloLens or Magic Leap and do you beat your own records for example in Beat Saber or on the Icaros VR flight system (their game looks a lot like your carpet VR work-out!)?

We’re very close to the AR/VR scene. Both us and our wives work in the industry so we’re very aware to everything that’s going on in this field. We’ve tried most of the headsets out there and we do spend a lot of time playing VR games :) my favorite one is Lone Echo – incredible narrative with incredible visuals. You’re not the first one to point out that Icaros VR reminds our carpet/flight game, maybe they saw our short before they designed their product :) but anyway so far we haven’t got to try it in person yet…

I did try it. It’s really, really exhausting! Definitely a good work-out, though the version I used a while ago was with a bulky GearVR and obviously less funky graphic than in your contact lens version. OK, back to the movie track: of course you know people like Keiichi Matsuda and his work. He is also doing a lot of UX design – for example allowing to pet his virtual cat with the Leap Motion, etc. Are you in touch with other AR/VR developers and movie makers like him? Do you exchange ideas and take a closer look on actual IT developments?

Yes, we had the pleasure of chatting with Keiichi Matsuda a few times. He and others like him are a great source of inspiration for us. For example, just recently the incredible Jayse Hansen joined our film as an executive producers and senior art director. He’s a VFX legend with an affinity towards AR and holographic interfaces. He made VFX for big blockbuster movies such as StarWars, Avengers, Iron Man and many more. We worked with Jayse in the past, back when we all worked for Meta and together we helped develop some early experiences in AR.

Tell us a bit, what have you been doing since SIGHT? Why are you returning now to AR? Any milestone hit or recent development you base your timing on? Why another AR short?

We’ve been building our career in past few years, moved from Israel to the San Francisco Bay area and reopened our studio here. We never left the AR scene, in fact back in 2017 we created a unique collaborative AR experience called “The Journey to the Center of the Natural Machine” that was showcased in Sundance. In the last few years we’ve been also trying to make Sight into a feature film, through the traditional Hollywood pipelines but it always ended up in the same way – either we’ll give up the directors seat or give up the creative control over the story. We didn’t want to do that and so we decided that we’re not going to wait any longer for someone to give us money or permission, we’ll do this film on our own and on our own terms. That’s why we’re doing this film on Kickstarter.

Ah, I saw the Journey, which was great. Sorry, I didn’t realize it came from you – for me it was only labelled “meta”. Hehe. Speaking of not waiting longer: what can we expect from your planned movie? Will it be as dystopian as the last? Will it be longer, bigger…?

SIGHT: Extended will definitely have the same style and tone as the original film, and will continue to explore the use of gamification but in a much bigger scale. If the original short focused only on the inner world of our protagonist Patrick, then now we’ll have the chance to explore the outside world as well and how our protagonist fits inside it. It will be around 35-45 minutes long and will introduce new characters and new moral dilemmas.

In your first AR movie I liked the smooth gaze-controlled UX interactions and visual AR elements a lot. You also included trends like gamification nicely as you say. Will you extend your work here to show even more of “possibly working interfaces”? You know.. IT management will always say to developers: “just do it like in Ironman or in THAT movie!”. So maybe we as developers get some inspiration here?

Oh yeah for sure. I think what makes Sight so compelling is the fact that many of the ideas that we presented were not so far fetched. We actually tried to base many of our UI’s on current/past interfaces. For example the Cucumber scene is a reference to Fruit Ninja, or we have a scene in the new film that is referencing the new trend of DeepFakes. So the idea is always to create something new and innovative, but that also feels tangible.

So, the funding deadline is imminent. How can people support you?

They can go to our Kickstarter page at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sightextended/sight-extended and support us there. We have exclusive rewards for our backers but hurry up, the campaign ends on August 10th (this Saturday)!!

Can you tell us briefly when and where will it be produced? Maybe people could even join the production or help? Do you look for manpower support, too?

We plan to start our production around November and most of the filming will take place in San Francisco/Bay area. Since this is going to be a small indie production, we could use all the help we could get. People can go to our website: www.sightextended.com and signup to join our production team.

Thanks a lot for your time. Really looking forward to seeing your next movie come alive. As a last question maybe you can give us an idea: what do you personally think about AR? Do you think it will have a great future and be a good thing for humanity? What is your vision for AR?

As VR, AR and AI gradually become more mainstream, it becomes more and more evident that we’re witnessing a coup. The takeover of the digital world over the physical world. From trends like Pokemon Go, Snapchat filters that allow us to swap our gender and all the way to the uncanny valley of DeepFake – the digital world is altering our reality. And as the form factor of smartphones slowly shifts towards smartglasses, there will be no escape from it. Will it be a good thing or a bad thing? We think the answer is somewhere in the middle – it all depends what we as humans will choose to do with it.