Music Marketing

Mastodon’s “The Hunter” Augmented Reality App Innovates But Misses Social Opportunity

Mastodon-albumFor Mastodon's latest album release, "The Hunter", they worked with augmented reality company, Total Immersion, to create a web app that takes live webcam images and places a mask based on AJ Fosick's album cover art over one's face. It's a bit hard to describe but you can see it in the video below. However, despite the fact that it's pretty cool, they also lost a huge social media opportunity in the process. WATCH:

"Video of my son becoming Mastodon's Hunter"

Hard rock/metal band Mastodon released their latest album, "The Hunter", September 27th on Reprise Records (Warner Bros. Records) with album art by a really amazing artist, AJ Fosik. Around the time this release was in motion, the folks at Total Immersion, contacted WBR about their augmented reality services and a fan-oriented project was born.

Total Immersion has done a wide range of projects, many of which feature a nonmobile immersive experience unlike the world tagging approach that cyberpunk readers like myself were conditioned to expect.

As you can see from the above video, the basic concept uses a form of face mapping which allows for an overlay of the roaring, firebreathing Hunter mask. The experience is designed for the viewer having fun at home with their monitor and webcam. For example, when you're playing with the app, there are a variety of sounds that occur that add to the experience.

You are given the option to take a pic or short video and upload them to Facebook or YouTube. However, the app does not facilitate downloading to your desktop and, as you can tell from the above video, the sound you hear when playing with the app is not included on the video that is uploaded to YouTube.

I spoke with drummer Brann Dailor who said the band really likes the concept and they've gotten positive feedback from fans but he was unaware that the uploaded videos did not have sound. I was a bit confused until speaking with Rick DeWeese, Total Immersion's West Coast Sales Director, and realized that the focus of the app was the in-front-of-computer experience. It was intended to be a fun thing for fans but the Facebook and YouTube uploads were extras that did not seem to be an integral part of the experience.

But the opportunity to take this fan experience, and make it a much larger social media event, was lost. For example, as we've seen with so many acts, they could have provided some of the band's music to create a mini-soundtrack for the videos that would have made them much more enjoyable to watch on YouTube.  Or they could have just included the app sounds in the video and that would be nice as well.

But there are even cooler possibilities. If you search YouTube for "Mastodon cover", you'll find a whole bunch of guitarists doing covers of Mastodon songs. Think about how much guys like that would dig being able to play covers while their head was the fire breathing Hunter? Other folks might want to sing the lyrics to their favorite Mastodon song. And, if that seemed a bit open-ended for the label, they could have picked one song and held a contest where people did covers of that song only for a big YouTube event.

I'm glad to see bands experimenting with new technology and both Brann and Rick were great guys to talk to but it kind of blows my mind that this opportunity to do something potentially much bigger was missed.

More On The App
The folks at Total Immersion introduce the app and take a closer look at the offering and how it works.

Here's a video of a live face mapping application, not by Total Immersion, during an Aphex Twin concert in which his image is superimposed over faces of the fans. I'm definitely looking forward to the future of this technology.

Hypebot contributor Clyde Smith is a freelance writer and blogger. He currently maintains a writing hub at Flux Research and periodically blogs at All World Dance and This Business of Blogging. To suggest music services and related topics for review at Hypebot, please contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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