It was an offer that we couldn't turn down, we got asked to develop a mobile application for the experimental theater to increase its attendance. Live in Theater* contacted us to combine their talent and our skill in technology in order to boost the interest to the play and the theater in general.
*Live in Theater- immersive and interactive theater of alfresco performances, which are based on real events from the history of New York. The main feature of the plays is the close involvement of the audience with the performance in all levels of feelings, as well as the deep interplay between actors and the public.
Challenge : New York is a young city (⅓ of the population of New York are from 21 to 40 years old). People are spoilt by the leisure choices and places to go. It’s a well known fact that New Yorkers like to spend time in a hasty manner - and it's hard to impress them.
Solution: Casual passers, as practice tells, often become the audience or share their experience on social media and we bet on it.
The chosen approach was the use of AR technologies to intrigue the public and attract attention to the performance. Augmented Reality was the hype technology at the time and an unusual use in the park would definitely provide the interest that the theater needed. Attracting extra attention to the performance was our ultimate goal.
The story that we had to incorporate: Interactive theatrical experience "J&K 1965" is based on photographs of the iconic Life magazine photographer Bill Eppridge. Eppridge captured very intimate and controversial images of drug addicts John and Karen and shocked American people exposing them to the reality of drug addiction in mid 60’s.
As we heard about the idea of this immersive experience and John and Karen’s love story we thought of the way to make it even more interactive and engaging and to connect it to the present situation on drugs. To make the photos come alive in a real life environment - modern “Needle Park” (Do you remember that movie with Al Pacino?), we created the mobile app "J&K 1965". The markers were placed in the park and by scanning them the photos would appear on the screen.
App concept: The thought behind was to create an app that would show fragments of the historical past in real time at the Sara D. Roosevelt Park right during the performance.
The play takes place at a real park and not only completely immerses its audiences into the world of the main characters but also allows them to play roles in the performance. Given the dynamics of the performance and the place where it occurred, it was necessary to organically insert the original photographs into the structure of the performance and at the same time involve the viewer in the story line that unfolds at an arm length.
Behind the scene: As a base for our project we took our existing technology - the ARtist viewer. It allows artists to demonstrate their work in the augmented reality: to create specialized exhibitions on the net and to make technological installations offline for the general public. The ARtist viewer effectively performed these tasks and served as an excellent tool for attracting new viewers and the press.
A large layer of work has been connected with design and development. We started by paying attention to the size of the photos, working on their parameters/ scales. It is important that users feel comfortable viewing them on the phone screen.
Since the performance takes place in the open, we had to be sure that the photos would be recognized in all weather conditions. After numerous tests, we achieved a great efficiency running the app in poor lighting and bad weather conditions, also an operation marker range went up to 3 meters. The J & K application was designed with many things in mind. The UI uses elements of camera filters that famous photographer Nikkormat FTN used, and the audience is invited to "see" the story through his eyes.
Each marker has the name of the "J & K 1965" play, as well as the information about the performance and the Live In Theater. Potential viewers could visit the site of the theater, indicated on the marker or automatically move to the page of the performance by scanning the QR code.
Promotion: The advertising campaign was implemented in two steps.
Step 1. Application was used to attract new viewers.
Initially, the theater invited viewers to see all the photos posted at the location after the performance. Later, it was also positioned as a separate AR exhibition and was used to attract spectators' attention to the performance. This means that they spotted the information about the AR exhibition on a separate page of Eventbrite. Spectators were downloading the app and through it got on to the performance.
An AR exhibition was opened, and everyone could come and see photos using the application. Visitors learned about the theater and the innovative work that it does. This increased the popularity of both the theater itself and this performance.
Step 2. "Download the application" was written in the performance script.
The audience, of course, knew about this in advance. In the play there was a guide who announced the information about the app and why it should be downloaded to the audience before the performance so that everyone set and ready. Also, we invited
people to come to a free exhibition through eventbrite.com and paperbrowntickets.com, and gave a link to the application where people also read about the theater itself.
On each marker there was a link to the page of the play, as well as a link to this application.
Results: 12% of the theater's audience during the summer period learned about it through the J&K and AR exhibition.
TodayTix - this platform was sold on average 25% of the available tickets more than the rest of the theater performances. This application helped the theater create a unique play, sell tickets for the performance, and strengthen the brand's position among innovative theaters and in the art and entertainment industry of New York.
The technology of this application was developed by Omega-R team, and they continue to work both on technology improvement and applications.
Sound effects will be added (e.g. when you press the button, the sound of the vintage camera will play). Also, a snap counter will be installed, and in plans to make a small window screen, as on old cameras, through which the full picture will be visible.
We are so proud to say that the performance was a great success and we had our creative input in it. J&K 1965 app played a big role on behalf of the performance to involve new audience and to raise public awareness of such issues as drug addiction.
As a team of creative professionals we put our best efforts to come up with a technology that can do both, maintain efficient work under any weather conditions and provide a wow factor to expand the audience of the play.