“My watch vibrates, reminding me I have a meeting in five minutes, would I like to prepare? No AR preening today, but I’ll head into the waiting room and see who else is on. The meeting pops up on my (barely noticeable) projector – I see a few others – a client, I tap her icon to see more details about her role. The meeting commences, those who are speaking the most gently scale up in the unbound arrangement of portrait bubbles. At the office, a colleague steams milk in the background. AI automatically blocks the high pitch squeal from broadcasting to the group.
My turn to share – I broadcast a WIP model of the character animation to the group, using their smartphones to view it in their respective environments – I scale it, rotate it, cycle through versions of the animation, adjust the lighting, play with the textures – on the fly we are able to review, test and finalise. Now we’ve locked down the character, we revert to the screen. I throw our latest character into its WIP environment – we go through the same process again in-engine – switching cameras on the fly, adjusting shots, adding a few more mountains, change the lighting from dusk to evening, add some particles to the points of interaction.
After the usual review banter, we wrap up the meeting and log off. A transcript of the meeting is sent to my inbox, the updated prototype is already available to the team of artists to continue working.”
Sally Reynolds, associate creative director at The Mill New York, is pondering the not-too-distant future, a future when, hopefully, our working from home lives won’t be impeded by the brain fog – or Zoom fatigue – caused by staring down the barrel of a laptop camera at 2D renditions of yourself, your colleagues and your clients for nine hours a day.
There is of course some whimsy in Sally’s tale of the future but a fair amount of realism, too. Video conferencing tools have been a saving grace of the pandemic but the uptick in their usage has also highlighted their shortcomings. ‘Zoom fatigue’, for example, is a very real thing. Despite that, our reliance on those platforms shows no signs of slowing down. People working remotely appears to be a trend that will at least be around in some kind of significant way once the pandemic is over.