Steven Spielberg Unveils Microsoft’s Project Natal

Published 6 years ago by , Updated August 22nd, 2013 at 5:25 pm,

Ever heard of something called Project Natal? If not, you will probably start being swarmed with news and updates about this invention for a while to come, if you’re at all into the world of gaming or technology. Recently at Microsoft’s E3 Expo, Legendary Hollywood mega-director/producer Steven Spielberg helped unveil a new motion-capture gaming technology known as Project Natal (pronounced “nuh-tall”).

Project Natal, created and developed by Microsoft, allows X-Box 360 gamers to control what is happening on-screen by using just their bodies, relieving the need for any sort of controller as the Nintendo Wii currently employs.

The Project Natal technology is basically a box that sits beneath your TV and is effectively a camera combined with an advanced motion detector and depth sensor, plus a microphone. Amongst other things, Project Natal recognizes full body movements (including individual fingers), and is able to detect who is standing in front of it. That means there will be no need to even log in to separate profiles, as it will do that for you by simply letting it see you.

Even though Project Natal sounds a bit like a more advanced version of Sony’s EyeToy for the Playstation 2, it certainly sounds very cool. Technology really has come far in just a few decades – the next thing you know, machines will be ruling the earth. I wonder if Microsoft is part of a larger company known as Cyberdyne…

Spielberg was one of the people helping unveil Project Natal at the E3 Expo, the reason being that he is (unknown to a lot of people) a bit of a gaming geek. We can only speculate as to why Spielberg helped introduce one of the latest examples of what Microsoft is doing, but I would guess it’s because he wanted to get involved in some way with a technology that brings the movie and gaming world even more close together.

Just in case you want to see Project Natal in action, you can check out the following video of it:

For more technical/description information on Microsoft’s Project Natal, you can head over to Yahoo News as well as the official Xbox website.

This Project Natal motion-capture technology is along the same vein as what Spielberg is doing with Tintin at the moment, as well as what fellow blockbuster filmmaker James Cameron is doing with the upcoming Avatar. Spielberg’s experience with big-budget, special effects blockbusters like War of the Worlds, Jurassic Park, and the aforementioned Tintin, certainly makes him a good candidate to get involved with Project Natal. The world of the movies, as far as technology goes, is improving on a day-to-day basis, and it looks like the gaming world is catching up fast with the likes of Project Natal.

The technology of Project Natal may also be beneficial as a direct tie-in to the world of movies. As you may know, Spielberg is currently working alongside Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson on Tintin (Spielberg is directing the first movie, with Jackson producing – vice versa for the sequel). And back in 2006, Jackson signed a deal with Xbox to create what was described at the time as, “a new form of interactive entertainment.”

As fellow Screen Rant writer Rob Keyes asks, is the fact that both Spielberg and Jackson are involved together with motion capture in the world of movies, as well as new forms of interactive gaming entertainment (specifically with Microsoft’s X-Box and innovative tech for it) just some sort of coincidence? It seems like more than just a coincidence to me, and it sounds like there’s a plan set for somewhere down the line that ties this Project Natal technology (and the currently unknown project(s) that Jackson signed a deal with Xbox for – could they be one and the same?) with the world of movies.

Just imagine the possibilities…

What do you think about this new Project Natal motion-capture technology that Spielberg helped unveil? Do you think both Spielberg and Jackson being involved with this type of technology is just a coincidence or is there something more to it that could benefit the world of movies?

Sources: Yahoo, Empire, BBC and Xbox

TAGS: Tintin
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  1. This is an acoion packed game i have a xbox 360 and i watched videos of this. even they have this charecter that you get to know and theres more stuff in this game that you should find out. This game is unbaliveable theres alsome magic in this game. i dont mean maichans i mean magic you can write a idea hes trying to figure out on a peice of paper and hold it up to him and he pulls it in to his world in this game.

  2. that is so cool !!!!!!!!! hahaha im gonna get one when it comes out hehehe yes, i wonder if it i’ll have a movie maker like program with it so people can make their own movies etc

    any idea when it comes out ?

  3. Natel is very cool projct milo is amazing, mind blowing, and to be honest scary as hell. Milo can carry a conversation with recoignize movement read what you write on paper and tell you the color of it.

    On a side note first time on screen rant with my brand new iphone awesome.

  4. It looks cool, and very highly innovative, the only trouble is it would be more of a party app, or an addition to the XBox360 than an entirely new form of play. Games like bouncing balls into walls or talking with Milo would be incredibly boring without something like this. But speaking as a fan of both casual and hardcore games, things like Halo, or Killzone (I know, I only mention the FPS) would benefit only slightly. On the other hand, things like driving games, or party games could be huge with this. At the very least its a huge step in the right direction.

  5. Sock monkey they have already shown demos of skate boarding games and sword fights any game could stand to benefit. I hate first person shooters because of the contrls but with this i might like them. Imagine being able to turn and your character turns instead of having to move a stick.

  6. As the Marovingian said in Matrix Reloaded,,, “He’s only a man”

  7. And Jurassic park 4? A go?

    Please, Make Jurassic Park 4!

  8. So can you do any, well, real games with it. As much as kicking and painting will be a kick at first I can imagine the amusement whereing thin very quickly. Can you play more main stream stuff with games that involve shooting and stuff?

  9. @Daniel f & Sock Monkey,

    I agree with Sock Monkey (there’s a statement I never thought I’d say, because of the name 😛 ) that it would be BETTER for party games for what it’s being showcased as at the moment, but also agree with Daniel f that the basic principle of what Project Natal is has virtually endless possibilities. Like you say, Daniel, imagine playing Halo or Unreal Tournament and you’re the one actually moving and turning, holding your arms up like you’re holding a gun… wait, isn’t that the plot for the Gerard Butler film ‘Gamer’? 😛 Maybe that Gamer world will become a reality in ten years thanks to Project Natal he he 😛

  10. Well the fact of the matter is Ross they have already showed people playing a game with sword fights that could of been an RPG or an action adventure game. Either way it’s not just a simple party tool it’s already been made for games that people play alone at home. They have also showed people using it on a skate board game. I mean the guy puts his personal board up to the computer it scans it lets him use it in the game and then he does all the tricks and jumps on his own. I’m a total Playstation fan boy. I mean I own both the systems, but I prefer PS3 however with this Xbox just won some major points. All that Sony has managed to develop is a better Wii controller. They developed something that is very similar to the Wii controller only it works better. Not really able to compare that to what Microsoft just announced. My point is they have already showed people playing non party games with Natel so it’s already not just a simple party thing. Maybe shooting games are a bit off, but they can easily incorporate RPGs and other action adventure type games. They have also shows sports games like Skating and Race car driving.

  11. @ Daniel & Ross

    I’m not saying that games like Halo, or Unreal wouldn’t be cool with it; being able to twist your body and having the game react almost exactly what your doing would help tremendously. But the fact is that would you really want to play games like Halo, where I’d think the only way to walk around in the game without giving up other controls would be jogging in place? I can usually play a stretch of FPS for at least a couple hours. Now it may just be me, but I wouldn’t want to be jogging for that long, or doing something extraneous. The sad fact is that some times what I want to do after getting home from work is sit on the couch and veg. This is why I can only see it being an addition rather than a next gen device.

  12. Natal means Christmas in Portuguese. I wonder if that was intentional…

  13. If the millions of people everywhere standing still and frozen due to their cell phones are any indication, machines have ALREADY started ruling the world.

    Jokes aside, this certainly looks impressive. Heh, and the Wii thought they had beaten out the competition. Not so fast, my friends–!!!

    The future is here, gentlemen and ladies.

  14. Not only the world Phil G, but the military as well.
    This new technology is old hat, the military has had this type of interface for years. ^
    Personally I’m in no mood to physically articulate more than my thumbs when I play games at home.
    I’ll stick with my controller thanks.

  15. I can appreciate that 790.

    However the idea of possibly walking through a virtual fantasy world is pretty appealing. And it IS exercise. It’s better than sitting on the computer all the time and growing fat.

    This is especially good for children that they’re starting to have more interactive technology like this.

  16. Sock Monkey not every one is like you. I can honestly say I would play a lot of my games with this thing rather than traditional control and I’m sure they will give the option to turn it up and just use a controller on those days your just terribly tired. I can honestly me and my friends all plan on using this thing for just about every game it will let us. If it were just a party device I wouldn’t at all be excited I think party games are retarded and I don’t play them.

  17. @Daniel

    And I agree with most of that, however, there are certain games that are just physically impossible to keep hardcore with the Natal.

  18. I disagree I think any game could be kept hardcore with Natal. In fact it would open up some games for people. Personally like I said before I hate First person shooters for multiple reasons, but the number one reason is the controls I hate moving the character around in first person. This will open up genres to people who didn’t like them before because controlling is better for that person. I will actually play a first person game with Natal. I don’t see any game that this wouldn’t work with. Think over all the over complicated controls for these games just to take cover or turn really fast. Now all you gotta do is duck or turn your own body. I agree that there are days you just want to sit back and relax and that’s why I said there should be an option to go either way, but most of the time I’d rather be using Natal given the option. There really is no genre that it can’t work with that I can think of.

  19. @Daniel

    But how would you move in FPS? That’s the biggest problem I have with Natal, is that moving would require you to actually walk or job in place. Though it is exercising, I must reiterate the point that people can play FPSs more than an hour at a time. After an hour of that I just don’t see how you’d be able to continue. The only other option with Natal is using your second hand to maneuver, causing you to give up more control over your character.

  20. @Sock Monkey, lol, that’s the day I stop playing video games. Running in place ??? No thanks.

    There’s nothing wrong with the controllers. Here we go again with improving something that doesn’t need improving.

    Maybe Natal comes with optional treadmill,,,
    No thanks!!! Lame!!

  21. So after and hour switch to a controller and sit for a spell. It’s not really that complicated of an issue. Not to mention the incorporate a simple two button controller to make you run if you wanted so you can still control the movements, but the controller controls the running so all you have to do is turns or side step/walk. There are a million things that could be done to counter any problem that you run in to.

  22. Wasn’t the person in the vid using voice controls? So in a FPS the person could say “walk” or “jog” and the character would move while the person playing can control other things such as direction and pointing the weapon.

  23. Another good point Andy.

  24. @ Andy and Daniel

    Those are both good ideas to counter the jogging in place, but my point is that neither of those could be incorporated into a hardcore game. When playing Halo I need to have a split second response time, and not be tired from all that jogging in order to; shall we say, defeat the enemy. The whole “jogging in place” thing, though it would work, for people who ‘really’ get into FPS, something else would have to be done.
    So, though it is extremely innovative, it will still have issues with hardcore games.

  25. Andy just gave the absolute perfect solution. “Run” “Stop” it’s fairly easy and you wouldn’t need to jog in place at all. It works just fine for hardcore games. I’m sorry, but I consider my self a hardcore player and I think this will work excellent. I don’t play first person, but I play a lot of third person shooters, RPGs, Sports games and various action adventure things and I find that just about every game I’ve ever played could work with this.

  26. Anyway it’s clear that we are just going in circles you just seem to be stuck in your mind set and it’s getting pointless. So we should probably just end it.

  27. Look guys its very simple. this is probably a type of thing that does give you a lot of games that are are interactive but its not like all the games will be. so for hardcore gaming like Halo or COD you would still most likely use the controller, or they will at least let you decide between the two. if they didn’t then most people would never buy this.