NEW YORK CITY — W magazine recently partnered with The Mill (themill.com) to launch an augmented reality experience
that brings its September 2017 collector’s issue to life with a three-dimensional, “talking” cover. The Mill team also created a series of short films, interactive features, and AR-enhanced fashion portfolios for the publication. The cover, featuring Katy Perry, was conceptualized and shot by Steven Klein, who also directed the star as part of the AR experience. The project marks Klein’s first venture into the world of AR/VR filmmaking.
W’s collector’s issue features cinematic, 3D visual effects, and AR-enhanced imagery and videos, which appear to leap off the page when viewed through the app. Readers can activate content from the cover and four of the magazine’s features and portfolios using W’s Beyond the Page app, which was developed by The Mill. The app is available for download for iOS and Android devices.
The AR experience begins with a talking cover: a video and audio message from Katy Perry, transformed by Klein, styled by Edward Enninful, and depicted in a surreal setting while reading an Albert Camus-esque declaration of freedom. Readers are encouraged to interact with different parts of Katy Perry’s cover portrait, as each facial feature unlocks a new piece of content. Scanning images and pages from the magazine, which are marked with an AR-activated W icon, leads to multi-dimensional visuals, films, and a panoramic, 360-degree view of the cinematic set.
"We perceive magazines as flat planes of expression,” says Klein. “Photographic and print materials as static, firmly held in place by the laws of time and space. But now, through new technology, we have broken those laws and can render a picture as a living entity, as in the case of my W magazine cover story with musical artist Katy Perry. Like Alice looking through the looking glass, you are invited, through the use of an app, to step into the wonderland we have created with the technical assistance of The Mill."
The Mill worked with Klein to create 3D scans of Perry on-set at the cover shoot, which were used to produce a series of virtual portraits. The focus was on designing a seamless experience between the screen and the printed page, matching Klein’s aesthetic throughout the CG renderings, and producing a cohesive narrative across the issue and all its AR components.
“With this collaboration with W magazine, we wanted to push the boundaries of what’s possible in print, while unlocking a new kind of viewing experience through augmented reality,” says Angus Kneale, The Mill’s chief creative officer. “This is an incredibly exciting time to be at the forefront of emerging technology and digital storytelling, and we’re looking forward to further exploring how it can complement and expand the print medium.”
In addition to the cover story, the AR experience extends to a collaboration with artist Alex Israel, accompanied by a futuristic piece of fiction; a defiant take on fall fashion by photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott; and a portfolio by photographer and artist Collier Schorr, capturing fashion’s obsession with gender fluidity.
This initiative is part of W’s strategy to enhance the print product, make it collectible, and deliver a special experience around key issues. W’s September collector’s issue will hit newsstands August 14th.