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Weekly uses ‘Harry Potter’ technology to turn print images to video

A weekly newspaper’s innovation which transforms printed photographs into videos has been hailed as having the “biggest potential since the introduction of colour” by its editor.

The Scarborough News has introduced technology which enables smartphone users to turn newspaper photos into moving images.

Readers can access videos through their copy of the newspaper by downloading an app for their mobile, then hovering the device over certain still images.

The innovation has been compared to fictional newspaper ‘The Daily Prophet’, found in the Harry Potter series of books and films, which is read by wizards and features moving images instead of still pictures.

The front page of this week's Scarborough News, which features two advertisements that can be transformed into videos

The front page of this week’s Scarborough News, which features two advertisements that can be transformed into videos via the Aurasma app

The News has developed the idea with technology company Aurasma, which specialises in ‘augmented reality’.

The Aurasma app can be downloaded in less than one minute and yesterday’s edition features viewable video on 12 different pages – including some advertisements as well as editorial images.

Editor Ed Asquith told HTFP: “We’re hoping it’ll open the possibility of creating a dynamic new partnership between print and digital. When you show people how it works, it’s so simple and goes straight from paper to phone.

“Editorially and commercially it’s got the possibility to have the biggest potential since the introduction of colour to the paper, offering something new and opening new opportunities for presenting stories and advertisements in a brighter, more modern way.”

“It is a really Harry Potter-style thing with images coming out to real life, in reality.

“It’s got a ‘wow’ factor. Even our own reporters’ reaction is ‘wow’ and, when that’s the reaction from your own staff to the paper itself, that’s magnified by the reaction of the people I’ve showed it to.”

Its introduction in the News’ current edition coincides with a conference, called ‘Exploring Digital Futures’, which is being held in Scarborough this weekend and is backed by the Johnston Press-owned News.

Ahead of the conference, Aurasma approached Graham Walker, who is commercial content editor for JP in Yorkshire, about the possibility of using the technology in the paper.

Said Graham: “We are proud to have created another Johnston Press first – showing how we are using new state-of-the-art innovation to marry print with digital, giving extra added value to our printed products.

“We have made the ‘Harry Potter newspapers’ where print appeared to come alive, a reality.

“And just as we all marvelled at the Princess Leia hologram in Star Wars – next we are planning pop up 3D images so readers can look around content such as new cars, homes and from jewellery to museum pieces and even their favourite sport, movie and musical heroes, who don’t not just appear but can sing and interact out of the page.”

A six step guide on how to use it has featured in recent editions, ahead of yesterday’s launch. However, it is yet to be decided whether its use will be expanded to other titles across the group.

A similar use of augmented reality technology was made last year by the Newbury News, whose ‘Newbury 13D app’ also enabled readers to bring printed images to life by scanning the page with their phone.

The News won the printed innovation of the year award at last year’s newsawards for the ground-breaking app.


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  • May 26, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I think I first saw this messed around with in local papers in about 2012.

    What are you going to astound us with next? Magic eye puzzles?

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  • May 26, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    So, let me get this straight. I have to buy the paper, then download an app, then use my phone to get these extra digital enhancements?

    Alternatively, I could simply go to a website…

    If you remove messaging apps like Facebook, Twitter etc from the equation, the average app retention rate after about a year is around 11 per cent. That means when people upgrade their phones or are looking for more space, they delete almost nine out of ten apps they’ve downloaded.

    Forgive me, but this sounds like something I’d download once, use a couple of times for novelty value and get rid further down the line.

    Taking into account the cost of creating and maintaining it and the continual cost of marketing it to a dwindling newspaper audience, this really doesn’t sound like its going be pulling up any trees in terms of boosting the bottom line.

    Wastius otimeus!

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  • May 26, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    If this was Dragons Den I’d say; a really clunky idea of ‘cutting edge technology and a cumbersome route to access the thing, all to provide a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist, for that reason I’m ooot

    I’m with Oliver, this will be of no practical use other than novelty factor, it certainly won’t tempt non advertisers to spend or non readers to buy, i doubt many will even bother to download the app

    Idearus ridiculosum

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  • May 26, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    This is a gimmick and a complete waste of time. Why are people still fiddling with this kind of nonsense when resources are tight and there are so many more important things that need doing?

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  • May 27, 2017 at 9:58 am

    wouldnt it be much easier to just leave nclude a website address in the paper or advert other than this long winded novelty route to see a moving image?
    Q codes had the wow factor too now they’re so outdated hardly anyone uses them
    Presumably the production tewuired to get the ads to move is provided free? If not who really is go No to pay to have this pointless extra added?
    Sorry, I’m all for new innovations but this seems to me like it’ll impress those involved in it but soon be forgotten by anyone else
    Hopefully there are publishers working on better ways to attract revenues and readers than ideas such as this

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  • May 30, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Tried this six years ago. Come back in six months when you’ve got the number of readers who’ve downloaded the app.
    It won’t make three figures, and maybe not even two.
    Even after a year or two sponsoring Tottenham, Aurasma made no impact at all.
    The Princess Leia hologram was 40 years ago!!!!!!!!!! :)

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  • May 30, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    Johnston Press are sheer magic! They’ve turned so many good newspapers into pure rubbish. It can’t have been easy!

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  • May 31, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    This will revolutionise the industry. Sit back and watch the cash roll in…

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