We got a glimpse of how television could be last night. Detective series, CSI: NY broadcast an edition where the criminal was tracked in 3D virtual world, Second Life. About 30% of the program was shot in machinima by The Electric Sheep Company (another client). But the crime hasn’t been solved. It continues in Second Life where viewers can now become crime scene investigators themselves. The characters we saw in the program are identical to the ones in the virtual world – down to the pixel, since they were used to shoot the program. It’s a great way of extending the CSI experience.
What amazed me though was the level of interaction while the program aired. Of course, we were in-world, trying out Electric Sheep’s new OnRez Viewer (which is very slick – love the back button), chatting and IMing with each other. At the same time, the email was flying and AIM popping. There was also a discussion in real time on Twitter and several friends’ Facebook statuses declaring they were glued too.
Television isn’t normally a communal experience. Too many channels and TIVO mean there’s rarely a synchronized time we all watch the same thing (in fact usually only sports). More importantly, there’s no channel to interact through. Last night’s CSI reversed that in many ways. There were too many channels of communication, but only one thing to watch.
Fans of The Office (US edition) will be pleased to see Second Life appears in that tonight too.