Review: Curtain Call on Facebook Portal
When you enter any of the theaters that currently (or recently) showed Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, you are instantly transported into the wizarding world. As soon as you walk in, the stage is set with the beautiful set of Platform Nine and Three Quarters. Throughout the play (however you may feel about it), there is no denying that the sets are gorgeous pieces of art for the story to play out across. Many patrons of the show wish they could walk through those sets themselves. Now, with a little augmented reality (AR) magic, you can!
We recently had the opportunity to review the Curtain Call AR experience with the Facebook Portal. The device itself arrived well packaged. The setup instructions were clear and easy to follow. The trickiest thing about the setup was finding a place to put the device within reach of a plug because it must be plugged in at all times to work. The plug itself has an interesting connection to the device, which ends up being a stand for the Portal to rest on. Once you have turned on the device and logged into a Facebook or WhatsApp account, it is all set up. However, using the apps can be somewhat confusing. The home screen is not entirely intuitive and takes some getting used to.
Calling another Facebook user is simple, once you find them on your list of friends. The resolution is clear, and the sound is crisp, which is wonderful. Finding the effects took us a little bit of time (effects can only be used with personal Facebook accounts). However, those effects were easy to use once we did find them. The Cursed Child effects are the first on the list. There are twelve mask options to choose from. Each one transforms you into a different character from the play. Additionally, each effect includes some extra magic. Simply tap the screen or nod your head, and an additional effect appears. You can see these in our videos throughout this post.
One favorite was the effect that began as Albus Potter in Ron’s clothing. With a tap or nod, you “drink” Polyjuice Potion and transform from Albus into Ron. The effect is exciting and fun as you watch even your face change shape slightly. The AR experience uses “real-time skin sampling” to match your face with the character. Lighting from the show is also matched to give the full effect of being on stage in the environment of the sets.
Using Portal to Portal calling, you can experience the Curtain Call AR masks with up to three friends. We found that your view is the largest on the screen while the other caller becomes a smaller window on your screen. We would have liked to see everyone in the call in equal sizes to really enjoy watching the effects, but it wasn’t clear how to change that view if it’s possible. You can also take photos using the effects in the PhotoBooth app, but unfortunately, you can’t record the reactions or effects during a call.
If you don’t want to use the effects in your call, you can still use the backgrounds. Simply select the background feature to choose from the Forbidden Forest, Ministry of Magic, or Hogwarts Great Hall. The backgrounds are beautifully lit and have crystal clear resolution. It really looks like you could be on the stage.
If you already own a Portal device, these effects and backgrounds will be a fun addition to all your calls.