It looks like we might be living in an even more science-fiction feeling world pretty soon. According to a new report, a new technology is being developed by a company called Mirriad that will actually allow major Hollywood studios to insert digital product placement ads into classic films and TV shows. Apparently it’s even already in use in China and it can also be seen in use on the ABC sitcom Modern Family.
The company’s chief executive Stephan Beringer opened up about the technology with The BBC:
“We started out working in movies. Our chief scientist Philip McLauchlan, with his team, came up with the technology that won an Academy Award for the film Black Swan.”
He further explained how the technology can scan and “read” images:
“The technology can ‘read’ an image, it understands the depth, the motion, the fabric, anything. So you can introduce new images that basically the human eye does not realise has been done after the fact, after the production,” he explained.
What’s more, Jonty Bloom at The BBC even explained that the same technology can be applied to music videos as well. This will allow musical groups to use the technology as a way to boost their revenue even with older – including decades old – music videos.
He claims “older musical groups could make new money from videos that might be decades old. And current artists who proudly sport the latest trainers, phones or bags, could have them changed a year later to the newest designs, without them having to actually put them on, or re-record a video.”
James Sandom, the managing director of Red Light Management further added:
“The opportunity to carve open a new revenue stream is rare, and the ability to retrospectively use existing content and build new content with it in mind is exciting.”
It seems that the technology can also be applied in near real-time, allowing for usage in live events such as sports games and concerts. This would make the advertisements available “in real time, or milliseconds after.”
“So a penalty or VAR decision in football could see a new advert pop behind the referee.”
They’ve also stated that the technology wouldn’t simply insert random advertisements. In fact, these digital product placement ads could be personalized depending on who is watching.
Of course, this entire move could be considered controversial by many. After all, it seems to potentially violate the artistic integrity of creative artists that wouldn’t want their works retroactively altered. There are also no doubt legal technicalities that would need to be observed as well, as noted by film critic Anne Billson. As such, it seems unknown just how widespread this technology will become. But the fact of the matter is that it is in use and we’ll likely continue seeing it used to some degree – so be prepared for a new type of digital product placement ads going forward.