Greenscreening is about to make the leap from dodgy movie and TV special effect to a home entertainment social game in the style of Guitar Hero. At least, that's what YooStar, who'll be marketing the new device, is hoping.
YooStar's package mixes a high-resolution webcam, microphone array, a greenscreen and the appropriate software (think of it as a low-fi special effects studio in a box). The idea is that you'll set up the camera gear and run a movie clip from yooStar's archive—the greenscreen effect then lets you digitally insert yourself into the action, doing and saying whatever you like. The software records your efforts and then you're able to upload to youTube, or yooStar's own site—subject to the viewing pleasure or displeasure of all who click on the videos.
The company's been gathering clips to use as part of the game, and hopes to have around 200 available at launch—they'll cover everything from classic movies to Terminator to Sesame Street episodes and footage from the NBA. However, according to company CEO Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, it's not really a traditional game...instead yooStar is trying to do "for movies what Rock Band and Guitar Hero did for music."
Can it really work? It's not as if there's an interaction between you and the other characters that requires any skill, after all. There's not even the challenge of matching the star's performances and being graded with hit points in real time, as happens in Guitar Hero and the SingStar series of games. More specifically, yooStar will cost somewhere in the region of $170 and extra clips will cost between $0.99 and $3.99 per clip, meaning it'll compete against Sony's Eye, Nintendo's Wii and the upcoming next-gen motion controllers from Sony and Microsoft, which offer a more immersive gaming experience.
Still, yooStar will appeal to would-be actors, film directors and the fanboys, and will be on the wish-list of many a high school drama department. And the idea of filming oneself talking back to the T-101, or exchanging one-line quips with Big Bird about stuffing is indeed appealing. But I suspect it's in generation two of the device, where software AI and advanced graphics turn it into a properly interactive experience that it'll really take off. Sadly this is still several years away.