The developer kit for Microsoft's HoloLens ships at the end of this month, and the company is busy showing off new apps and experiences for the augmented reality headset. The latest is Actiongram, an AR movie maker that allows users to shoot videos of people interacting with holograms. The app isn't intended to compete with the special effects of a Hollywood green screen, but Microsoft wants HoloLens owners to create fun, short, and shareable clips for social media.
An augmented reality version of 3D Movie Maker
Videos of the app in action show users selecting from a menu of AR characters (including dinosaurs, astronauts, cats, and zombies) before placing them in real life settings — their front room or bathroom, for example. There seem to be a number of preset actions for each character, as well as the option to record dialogue, and then it's up to human actors to interact with them. The end result kind of feels like an augmented reality version of Microsoft's 1995 3D Movie Maker, and the quality of clips is, as you'd expect, pretty mixed.
A clip of an AR astronaut walking on the surface of a bubble bath is the type of thing that might be fun to share with friends (like an advanced Snapchat filter), but an extended sketch involving a tiny Teddy Roosevelt eating cat food and throwing up on someone's taxes is just bizarre. It's safe to say that as an artistic medium, augmented reality filmmaking has a way to go, but it's still interesting to see the sort of imaginative apps Microsoft is able to develop for the HoloLens. As ever, technology like this needs to be more widely available before we can see its true potential. If only the HoloLens developer kit didn't cost $3,000.