In a sign of the growing symbiotic relationship between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, Google has announced that it will distribute Google Glasses to select film schools. Film students will get to experiment with a new filmmaking form, and Google will reap the benefits as their technology gets a creative showcase. Can I just say I called this? Back in May, I wrote "Forget piracy, could Google Glass inspire a new film aesthetic?" At the time, the film industry was worried about how movies could easily be pirated using Google Glass. I argued that they have the potential to inspire a completely new film aesthetic. With film students leading the way, I think Google Glass will be much more of an asset to the industry than a threat.
The schools participating in the program include USC, CalArts, RISD, UCLA and AFI, who each will receive three sets of the glasses. Right now, they cost $1,500, but they're expected to be priced closer to a smartphone by spring. They can make phone calls, so there is a chance the glasses will be subsidized by a phone contract, potentially costing just $200--though I wouldn't be surprised if they're at least $100 higher than that.
Time for more speculation. Cheap, high-quality digital cameras have revolutionized low-budget filmmaking. But when it comes to cell phones, video footage has been too low-quality. Instead, photos have thrived, nearly replacing the point-and-shoot camera used by the average consumer. Cell phone videos have been more useful for documentary footage--like capturing the shooting of Oscar Grant, now the subject of the dramatic film Fruitvale Station. Because Google Glass mimics a point-of-view shot, I think its cinematic potential is much greater. And now that film students have their hands on these new tech tools, it's only a matter of time before we see exactly just how cinematic Google Glass can be.