Alvis Brigis is a former reality television producer and
story editor whose credits include Motormouth (VH1), The Simple
Life 2 (FOX), Making the Band 3 (MTV), and House of Boateng
(Sundance). This is Part 2 of a series envisioning the future of
As I discussed in my last post on
future tv programming that incorporates virtual worlds, reality
TV is one of the many art forms due to experience incredible change
as we enter the acceleration era. The genre is particularly
well-suited to respond to new technology because it that was
recently enabled by dropping technology costs and responds quickly
to market forces.
That being the case, I’d like to explore just how BIG reality programming can get considering the
proliferation of high-quality digital recording devices like the
iPhone (the new better 3G version will start at just $199), the
rise of social media media structures (YouTube, Digg, MemeBox), the
advent of online participatory editing, the near-term potential of
WiMax communication webs, new camera POV possibilities such as
aerial micro-drones, and the steady progress we are making in
digital storage and battery life/weight.
Ultimately, these are the same technologies that will enable
widespread life-logging, surveillance and an emerging participatory
panopticon. But along the way they will make for some kick-ass,
ground-breaking reality television.
Here’s my Top 10 list of future MASSIVE reality TV shows that I’d love to kill some
precious time watching:
1. THE PROTEST: The world’s
largest and most dramatic political protests are examined
inside-out as real-time footage captured on handhelds and by aerial
drones is crowd-sourced and quickly edited online. As viewers watch
the most popular cuts they can click on a frame to directly access
the live feeds of their favorite broadcasters.
2. MANHUNT: 10 professional
soldiers, law enforcement agents, and reformed criminals stage a
fictional prison break then attempt to elude a public manhunt on
10,000 acres in rural Montana. Watch from afar or come test your
tracking skills for a shot at $1,000,000.
3. THE REAL WAR: A reality show
that actually makes a difference in the lives of the persecuted
masses, The Real War brings transprency and accountability conflict
situations in unstable regions. Sponsored by the UN and private
donors, the program is edited by a panel of international
I can feel my relationship with nature changing. The other day a big ass bumble bee was hovering around my face for a prolonged period of time. I mean we were having a stare down. I’m relatively sure that it was a real bee, but it spent an unusual amount of time right in my face – flew away and then back several times. It felt like there was some intelligence and intention behind it’s activities. Like it was gathering information.
Now before you label me as paranoid (at least wait until the end of the post), consider all of the increased surveillance activity that we know is going on and think about what we might not (take Bob Woodward’s cryptic interview reference from last week as an example).
Advances in robotics, miniturization and cost reduction in video cameras are transforming the economics and viability of surveillance. The increasing number and granularity of commercial satellite technology platforms, aerial drones, advances in facial recognition and image processing are increasingly enabling visual quantification of everything that happens in outdoor space. This is a trend that will only accelerate, driven primarily by security threats and the increase in destructive capabilities of small groups of people and individuals.
For large metropolitan cities, there really is no choice in the matter. London has already embraced extensive monitoring of public spaces and New York City has undertaken an ambitious project which includes the Ring of Steel. Though interfaces like Google Maps and Google Street View are currently static, they will eventually become real-time as the world moves towards becoming an unscripted 24-7 reality tv program.
So how do I know if that bee was real or surveillance. Well, short of swatting it and finding out for sure, I don’t. But I do believe that pretty soon these will be just another weapon in an increasingly large arsenal of behavior mapping and large scale societal surveillance.
Back when I lived in LA and worked on reality TV shows I would
often ponder the future of low-cost video production (which is what
enabled both the genre and the explosion of online video content)
and imagine a variety of camera placements that would soon be
enabled by new technologies. I was particularly excited about the
potential for aerial drone cams that could follow characters in new
ways, allow for low cost establishing shots and get to previously
unreachable positions. And so I was psyched to come across this
demo video of a hovering Microdrone camera that allows for
all of the aforementioned:
Of course, it’s been around for about a year (yet another awesome
technology that I’ve missed at inception) and is already being used
for surveillance, exploration, television and more. It currently
runs about $40,000 U.S. but as it drops in cost I expect that
reality TV producers, documentarians, news producers and low-budget
movie producers across the globe will employ it to shoot previously
unthinkable footage. (cont.)