February 18, 2019 7:00AM PT
The experience, which went live in USA Today’s Android and iOS app Monday, presents wardrobe from 6 movies in augmented reality, including costumes worn on “Mary Poppins Returns,” “The Favorite,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Black Panther.”
“We wanted to give our readers a different feel, a hands-on experience,” said USA Today Life managing editor Alison Maxwell in an interview with Variety. The experience allows readers to explore individual costumes in their own four walls, thanks to mobile AR technology.
It is accompanied by interview snippets from each of the costume designers, who highlight individual aspects of each and every costume. Some of the designers interviewed include Sandy Powell (“The Favorite,” “Mary Poppins Returns”) and Ruth E. Carter, who told the publication about her inspiration for the costumes of “Black Panther.” “She wanted her female warriors to be taken seriously,” said Maxwell.
USA Today Network emerging tech director Ray Soto told Variety that his team produced the entire experience in just 16 days, and likened the results to an interactive AR photo gallery. “We didn’t want to create a story arc,” he said. Instead, it was meant as an opportunity for readers to explore the costumes on their own pace. He added that AR may offer a number of additional applications for publications like USA Today in the future, ranging from data visualization to persistent location-based information layers.
Soto said that his team has been working with the emerging format for close to 1.5 years now. One of the lessons learned during that time was that it doesn’t make sense to launch separate AR apps for experiences like this. “It was very important for us to have it in the main app,” he said. “We didn’t want to have a scattered ecosystem.”