Project Summary

Introduction

Magic Lantern is a suite of applications with which professional title creators can author interactive entertainment titles. The core of this collection of tools is a title specification format called the Digital Workprint. Magic Lantern includes authoring tools to create, edit, and run Digital Workprints. Additionally, it has tools to translate workprints into forms that can be efficiently played on a target platform. Magic Lantern intends to support multiple target platforms (multi-mastering).

Vision Statement

Why Magic Lantern?

Application development teams typically consist of a title designer, several content production people and a slew of programmers. Microsoft Windows and Apple workstations are commonly used for content creation. However, the applications are usually programmed for particular target platforms (i.e. personal computers, iOS and Android mobile devices and set-top boxes). Magic Lantern intends to integrate these environments and streamline the process to help facilitate application development for mutliple targets.

The application marketspace is also transitioning to next generation devices capable of supporting 3-dimensional graphics. Developers are seeking authoring tools that target several of these deployment platforms. Thus, Magic Lantern's central strategy is multi-mastering with an emphasis on supporting 3D technology. Magic Lantern will have the ability to create and optimally master titles for multiple deployment platforms.

With Magic Lantern in place, this technology should be positioned to become the first choice of application development teams.

What is Magic Lantern?

The design of Magic Lantern, as described here, allows users to create interactive entertainment titles or, more simply, applications. For the first release, the playback venues for Magic Lantern applications are multimedia PCs and mobile devices. Most importantly, these applications contain 3D graphics and, most likely, characters who interact and potentially have 'behaviors' which react to

  1. the user's actions,
  2. the state of the environment, and
  3. other characters in the title.

Though the characters live in a 3D world and present continuous behaviors, Magic Lantern does not prevent authors from incorporating characters that present themselves with more traditional 2D media, digital movies, digital audio, and MIDI. The combination of all of these media types provides authors with a zero-limitaion environment.

The authoring tools run initially on Windows workstations, and simulation of the title, as it is being developed, is provided on the Windows station as well, albeit at differing fidelity and performance of the ultimate target machine. The benefit of this environment for development is realized through multi-mastering: the ability to convert the Digital Workprint into an executable title for any of several supported targets. Over time, Magic Lantern will add more targets, increasing the benefit of the common authoring interface.

The goals of this software system are as follows:

  1. Enable title developers to create, exercise, and debug their title on a single platform and convert it into a form for efficient execution of any of the supported target players.
  2. Support iterative refinement in the title development process. This is a user centered model, in that the author controls what happens at each stage of the process.
  3. Create an authoring system that can enable titles of the highest production value.
  4. Provide a framework where other software products can co-exist. This includes content creation tools, asset databases as well as additional title editors and mastering modules from third-parties.

Critical Success Factors

  1. Application developers buy-in: Magic Lantern relies on early adoption by application development teams, and their successful use of it in title development for killer apps that are targeted to more than one platform.
  2. Third parties add editors to the suite: Magic Lantern needs to be open, allowing for third-party additions to round out its functionality. Thrid-pary buy-in is critical for makding Magic Lantern into a whole product.
  3. Third parties add mastering modules: In order to achieve the goal of one authoring environment for amny different targets, Magic Lantern will reuire support by one of more thrid parties for targeting new platforms.

Scope

Magic Lantern does not yet address the multitude of possible markets that can use its technology. It is currently targeting applications with real-time 3D characters presenting lifelike behaviors. However, this system could also be used for kiosk titles, educational titles and for business training. It could also be used for Locacation Based Entertainment (LBE) and interactive television applications.