What if you could explore a piece of Beatles history by placing Ringo Starr’s iconic 1963 drum set in your home, while he regales you with his favorite drumming moments? Examine a life-size replica of a long-lost Xenomorph prototype from the classic movie Alien? Take a seat in Jim Henson’s office or have Drew Carey tell you to ‘Come on down!’ to spin the massive The Price Is Right wheel?
The Yahoo Entertainment team is dedicated to finding new ways for our audience to engage with the things they love, giving fans an exclusive front row seat to the latest TV, movie, music and celebrity news. With Yahoo’s ability to feature augmented reality on mobile web, our 2021 goal was to harness the power of this new technology to transport users inside the story. Yahoo Entertainment Immersive - a curated collection of AR pop culture artifacts that can be explored from your desktop, tablet, or mobile - was created to do just that. It’s a virtual Yahoo Entertainment museum right in your own living room.
In a year where we were still feeling effects of the global pandemic, Yahoo Immersive delighted fans virtually with 14 unique experiences spanning from nostalgic to news-worthy - from Will Ferrell’s iconic Buddy the Elf costume to the Dodge Chargers from F9; an exclusive first look at the Seinfeld-themed Funko Pops to immersive red carpet walks for last year’s Oscar and Emmy Awards done in partnership with The Hollywood Reporter. Yahoo Entertainment Immersive puts our audience inside the pop culture conversation like never before!
In order to curate this compendium of 3D pop culture artifacts, the original items had to first be located - everywhere from museums to auction houses, from storage facilities to Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay’s office.
The next challenge was figuring out how to photograph these items wherever they were currently housed, in the midst of a global pandemic. With a ban on company travel, Yahoo Entertainment’s NY and LA-based teams became skilled in talking local photographers through the fine points of photogrammetry - a task that goes against a photographer's best instincts to light and capture an item creatively.
Some items posed a challenge by their size alone. The Mythbusters’ Arrow Machine Gun was so large it had to be painstakingly relocated to an alley next to the storage facility so that the photographer could navigate the circumference. For The Price Is Right, the photographer had to race against the clock to capture the wheel during the crew’s lunch break - even documenting multiple rotations of the wheel for animation. And rather than the fast-paced action of an NFL game, a very gracious sports photographer found himself capturing a sedentary Beatles drum kit in his boss’ office.
Managing these shoots took time and patience, but as thousands of images poured in and 3D objects started to take shape, it was clear that these pop culture artifacts were being preserved in a very unique and perdurable way. Careful to respect the integrity and craftsmanship of the original objects, the experiences were designed so that the objects would take center stage, just as they would in a museum display.
Collaborations were key for other items like the Seinfeld Funko Pops and F9 cars, working directly with the original design teams to bring 3D renderings to our audience. Yahoo Entertainment partnered with The Hollywood Reporter to create the Oscar and Emmy red carpet experiences in augmented reality.
To bring each of these experiences to life, artists, craftsmen, and designers were called upon to lend their voices to the story. Ringo Starr shared performance memories, Brian and Lisa Henson recalled visiting their father’s office, and Jaws photographer Valerie Taylor recounted her own harrowing shark attack. Puppeteer Brian Froud, costume designer Laura Jean Shannon, and car coordinator Dennis McCarthy chronicled their inspiration and execution of the Labyrinth puppets, Buddy the Elf costume, and the F9 Dodge Chargers, respectively. Drew Carey celebrated the 50th anniversary of The Price Is Right, and Emmy- and Oscar-contending actors and actresses spoke about their nominated roles.
These artifacts and oral histories are now a part of the virtual universe for all pop culture lovers to discover and enjoy.
Yahoo Entertainment successfully delivered 14 immersive experiences, garnering over 1M impressions with 363K unique interactions. 1.3K pop culture fans went even further and launched these stories in Augmented Reality.
By exposing our audience to AR experiences throughout our coverage, Yahoo Entertainment is priming users to expect more interactive and immersive storytelling from their news sources. Over the course of 2021 alone, the engagement rate for Yahoo Entertainment’s immersive experiences increased by 32%. As AR experiences become the norm, Yahoo Entertainment is primed to lead the way bringing fans up close and personal experiences with the shows, movies, and music they love.