Ridley Scott imagined video billboards plastered up the sides of skyscrapers in "Blade Runner" decades ago. Check, we got 'em now. Harry Potter films visualized TV-like news clips in the daily newspaper. Okay, embedded video on the iPad is a nod in the direction of video-enabled e-paper.
Video clips playing on the sides of plastic Slurpee cups? I don't think any of us saw that one coming. Well, actually it isn't really here, but the hype is. As part of the wall-to-wall, every-molecule-you-breathe marketing assault that will be Iron Man 2, IGH Solution is creating a series of collectible 32-ounce Slurpee cups that feature several frames of animation captured from the film using a process they call "full motion video lenticular." This sounds like a more sophisticated version of the simple lenticular imaging that most of us have seen on various kinds of collectible cards and marketing items in the past. Multiple images are placed behind a plastic lenticular lens that shows a different image to the eye at a changed angle. This approach simply puts several progressive frames in sequence so that it appears a bit more film-like. IGH outlines the effect in several blog posts at their site.
"It is like watching a movie clip, but on a medium that requires no power."
Well, not quite.
Feeling like a kid hunting down that magical Oscar Meyer Weenie Whistle, I was intrigued enough by the come-on to stop by my local 7-11 and see how that Harry Potter effect had migrated to Slurpee cups. And like the 7-year old who hadn't learned his lesson yet from the first ten marketing come-on let-downs in his life, my hopes were dashed. Damn, it was just another familiar lenticular animation -- a few sequenced frames of an "Iron Man 2" villain jutting towards the screen. Maybe these were writ a bit larger than most to fill that 32-ounce cup. And it turns out that the pitch was really about getting us to enter a contest and rewards code planted on the inside of the Slurpee cup. Lead-gen. Hrrmph! I'm 51 and still not too old to get punk'd by the promise of a new media experience.
But like that 7-year-old I was left wondering, wouldn't it be cool? Actually putting recognizable film and TV sequences and trailers on physical objects would move us into that next age of video in the same way advanced multi-color printing techniques revolutionized the magazine business in the last century. The lush visual experiences that once lived only on walls in museums suddenly lined the public environment -- in posters, on magazine covers, in store promotions.
By the time "Iron Man 6" hits the theaters, perhaps video will be an embedded part of the physical environment. Buy a Slurpee and just hit Play.