During last night's Oscar broadcast, I was in full "second-screening" mode, flipping around the Oscar Backstage App from ABC, which I had downloaded for $.99 to my iPad. The big question for me was whether the 8 video feeds from various camera angles would hold up under heavy usage and also what the experience of switching back-and-forth among the feeds would be like. The good news is that the video all performed well, and newly chosen feeds came up quickly.
The bad news is that during most of the broadcast, there wasn't much actually happening in those 8 video feeds. The most active feed was from the Press Room cam, where winners would come to answer un-rehearsed questions from the Hollywood press. Some sessions, like with Christian Bale, seemed to go on and on, while other winners like Natalie Portman never appeared during the actual broadcast. In fact, this is the biggest area I think Oscar Backstage Pass app could improve - adding some simple schedule or navigation so users have an idea of what to expect next. I know the experience is supposed to be sort of impromptu, but the randomness and waiting started detracting after a while.
The other area for improvement is with the accompanying audio. For many of the cameras, only a persistent feed of waiting room Muzak-type music was available. ABC had said in advance that some of the cameras wouldn't have narration, but now having experienced them without any schedule or nav, they felt too diluted. Having open mics that could pick up gaffes isn't needed, just some sense of what's coming and when. Also, it would have been fun to have the audio from the control room cam, much like you can listen in on air traffic control in planes.
All in all though, Oscar Backstage app was respectable in its inaugural run. As it improves it should become indispensable for any Oscar fan who wants a fully immersed experience.
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