Jon Stewart’s first HBO project teams him with ‘holographics’ startup Otoy (update)

After a short break concluding his legendary run on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, former host Jon Stewart is heading to premium TV network HBO under a four-year deal.
And while there will be plenty of speculation in the days to come about what exactly Stewart will produce at his new TV network home, the first project is definitely interested. Deadline Hollywood reports that he’ll be working with graphics startup Otoy, a company known for its work adding innovation to the video space, “to develop new technology that will allow him to produce timely, current-events-focused short-form digital content, which will be refreshed on HBO NOW multiple times throughout the day.”
More specifically, Otoy’s previous work includes the creation of a 360-degree holographic capture system that has the potential to drastically change how the media industry uses video, as I reported last year. The tech is exciting not only because of the rise of virtual reality gadgets entering the consumer market, but also because it seems like the precursor to things like Star Trek’s holodeck. While the company wasn’t able to discuss details of its work with Stewart and HBO, Otoy cofounder CEO Jules Urbach was able to shed some light about how the company’s technology could help news-focused video content.
“The real takeaway [from this announcement] is that media is changing. We’re about to enter into a whole new era — with wearables, immersive computing, VR — where everything needs to be rethought; from capturing to rendering to the content creation tools themselves,” Urbach told me.
The 360-capture technology and overall video content platform produced by Otoy has potential to enhance the type of coverage in ways that may seem frivolous or too time-consuming right now. Urbach explained that the company’s tech is rendering video that captures as much information as possible about a scene (so, you aren’t just shooting video of an object or setting, you’re seeing around it as well) in real-time, aka the speed of news. Normally, this level of video quality is only used when working with CGI, but Otoy’s platform aims to let content creators of all sorts work with it.
From a news coverage perspective, that could mean 360-view video that brings new life to “man on the ground” reporting. Or perhaps an enhanced virtual set where a news anchor is shown walking through a scene while talking, with graphics that illustrate something far better than a spoken explanation or static graphic. (CNN is quite a big fan of those drone camera shots, but that’s kind of all they are.)
“Once that video data is captured and uploaded into a computer, it can be manipulated almost like [photoshopping images],” Urbach said, noting that current digital video editing tools usually require deep understanding to manipulate. “By making the workflow really fast and easy, it’s also going to satisfy partners that want to deliver content to many mediums in real-time.”
The takeaway for me? Fewer top-down views from newscasts using Google Earth, and more video content that helps tell a richer story.
As for what Stewart’s contract with HBO entails, it won’t be a regular talkshow-esque television show — at least not at first. Deadline said Stewart will focus on short-form digital-first content as well as potential films and longer series.