RDF, Artificial Life Partner on Avatar-Driven Interactive TV Show for the US Market

--Show Is Based on Artificial Life's MoPA-TV Platform

RDF Digital USA--an arm of RDF USA, the production company behind such shows as ABC's "Wife Swap" and Lifetime's "How to Look Good Naked"--and Artificial Life--a Los Angeles- and Hong Kong-based company that provides avatar-driven interactive TV solutions (note: for more on the company, see the article published on itvt.com, July 21st)--announced Monday that they are partnering to produce an animated interactive TV series, entitled "Sleuths," for the US market. The show will be based on Artificial Life's MoPA-TV platform (note: the name stands for "mobile participation television"), which allows viewers to use mobile Web, SMS and various other supported communications channels to register before or during a live TV show, enter an on-screen moniker and select an animated 3D avatar, and then use their avatar to participate in the show and see themselves represented on the TV screen in real time. Meanwhile, in the television studio, a real-time joystick control allows a studio operator to "generate a camera path flying through the 3D scene of all participating viewers' avatars," Artificial Life says. According to the company, MoPA-TV can animate over 100,000 viewers in real time. The technology, which has enjoyed some success in Japan, was recently showcased at the 12th IAAF Championships in Berlin. "Sleuths" will represent the first time that it has been used for a TV show in the US.

The half-hour long show--which was created by Max Benator, RDF USA's SVP of multiplatform entertainment, and which is being produced by RDF--will feature four children who each week solve a mystery. Viewers will be invited to register and customize their own avatar to represent themselves on the screen while the show airs live on national television, the companies say. Three times per episode, the avatars of viewers who have registered will appear in the show for voting sessions: a question will be asked in each session and participating viewers will have to text in their vote within a limited timeframe. Those viewers who give a wrong answer will be eliminated from the screen, the companies say, while those who get the question right will be congratulated and will stay on for the next question. At the end of each episode, the companies say, the top five avatars who answered all of the questions correctly will appear on screen one final time, standing next to the show's main characters.

In addition to making the show more "engaging and entertaining," the companies say, its avatar-driven interactive component will help create a "robust online community" and drive additional revenues from the premium SMS text messages that bring viewers' avatars to the screen and allow them to answer the show's questions. "It's both a television show and an interactive experience--it's revolutionary and we couldn't be more excited to introduce this to the States," show creator, Max Benator, said in a prepared statement. Added Artificial Life CEO, Eberhard Schoneburg: "We are excited about the first appearance of MoPA-TV in the US--a home to many original, creative and innovative show formats. Nowadays, television programs must compete with many other forms of entertainment such as the Internet and video games, so by adding something new to the traditional TV viewing experience it helps to satisfy the thirst of audiences for something fun and new. The interactive home entertainment that MoPA-TV provides ushers in a new era of TV entertainment."

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