INTERACTIVE TELEVISION -CINEMA

  • Steven Soderbergh’s Mosaic It aired on HBO as a six-episode series over five nights, but it was also released alongside an app of supplementary interactive content. Here’s a good article about the process of making Mosaic
  • Netflix’s interactive children’s programming – Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale, Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile, Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout, Minecraft: Story Mode … BACKGROUND – In 2015, when Netflix and DreamWorks expanded their partnership to include original interactive content, they decided to trial it in children’s programming.
  • The site Eko (“Eko is an interactive storytelling platform that lets you control the story. We’re building an ecosystem of engaged participants, forward-thinking creators, and innovative brands to pioneer the future of entertainment.”) – I’ve found most of the stuff here to be pretty cheesy … but it’s well made, i.e. seamless in-building of interactivity ..
  • BBC Click interactive special
  • Shows in which viewers vote for plotlines (Lost?) or reality TV that involves public voting (Big Brother, X Factor) are limited forms of interactivity …
  • More recently, the interactive web series, Try Life, created in 2012, presents similar episodes on teenage life. Taking on problematic life issues such as abuse, drug use and violence, a choice could quickly end up in chaos or redemption. Like Kinoautomat, the format underscores how choices are not frivolous entertainment. A mistake could lead to terrible consequences: one cannot “try” life. (FROM THIS)
  • In 2016, CtrlMovie AG released a smartphone app on which viewers can play an interactive movie called Late Shift.
  • John Hurt made an interactive erotic thriller called Tender Loving Care almost 20 years ago
  • David Blair’s 1993 Wax, or the Discovery of Television among the Bees was the first independent film to be edited using a non-linear editing system, the first film to be translated into an interactive and hypertextual online experience (Waxweb, 1993), and the first film to be streamed over a computer network. In its many incarnations, Wax tells the surreal story of Jacob Maker, a programmer of weapon and flight simulators who keeps a special Mesopotamian breed of bees. His life takes an abrupt turn when the bees take over his consciousness, allowing him to communicate with the dead. His hallucinations are visualized by psychedelic collages of computer animation, video feedback textures, home videos, archival photos, and found footage.

All of the examples above are ‘single viewer’ media, as opposed to a cinema. Interactive cinemas have been constructed and tried out before too. See:

KINOAUTOMAT

The movie Kinoautomat by Czechoslovakian director Raduz Cincera presented in the Czech Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal is considered to be the first cinema-like interactive movie

FROM THIS Bandersnatch review

But this interactive format appeared even earlier. Back in 1967, the Czechoslovakia pavilion at the Montreal Expo exhibited a film called Kinoautomat. Created by Radúz Činčera, the film was screened in a specially built cinema hall with a green and red button installed at each seat. At various points during the film, the reel stops, and a moderator appears on stage to ask the audience to choose between two scenes. The audience’s votes are then reflected in green or red lights around the screen, and the scene with more votes is played.

No matter what choices were made, the film always had the same ending (a burning building). Arising out of 1960s Communist Czechoslovokia, Kinoautomat thus not only made a statement about the validity of branching story path structures – but also a profound one on the validity of political choice and the nature of democracy.

AND ALSO

  • 1992 saw the release of North America‘s first interactive motion picture, I’m Your Man. Certain Loews Theatres locations were retrofitted with controllers to allow audiences to vote on decisions made by the main character. Although initially touted as the first step toward virtual reality cinema, the experiment was a failure and the equipment was removed from theaters by 1994.

Here’s George Landow talking about this stuff (from Hypertext 3.0 – pg. 254 onward)

This is obviously a bit out-of-date in terms of how normalised digital technologies are today. There’s also a whole bunch of examples of early interactive cinema art described in this section

  • The difficulty with film has been how to deliver the interactivity- in fact dedicated interactive cinemas have been built, with interactive controls/ keypads on seats, so far has never taken off ( in part because they only existed in specific sites). But you need a critical mass of people to have access to the platform –what business types call “penetration” – for an approach to really gain momentum. Netflix “may” have done that with Bandersnatch- it remains to be seen. (MEGAN HEYWARD INTERVIEW)

Janet Murray – Hamlet on the Holodeck

Page 259

  1. Unified Environment for Watching and Interacting: This still-speculative stage
    of narrative evolution would require the production of an entirely new genre
    of interactive entertainment that would combine episodic content and
    sustained interactivity. This is an area that is very ripe for design innovation
    as digital convergence platforms become more stable and the boundaries
    between television and video games become more fluid in the minds of
    producers and viewers.

HBO GO is a current example of a robust computer-based streaming platform
that includes interactive content similar to second-screen synchronized apps over
the web. The HBO show Game of Thrones, for example, is presented with a
stream of accompaniments that identify some of the characters and provide
production notes on topics like how a sword was manufactured that are visually
appealing but do not help a viewer to figure out what is going on in this exceptionally dense storyworld.

A more appropriate use of simultaneous information in close proximity to the
primary video viewing area was an experimental interface for the original CSI
series created by the much-honored designer Dale Herigstad on an early
Microsoft interactive TV platform. Herigstad provided close-ups of the forensic
materials in the episode and maps tracing the location of the characters, all of it
very closely synchronized to the dramatic action (Curran 2003). Herigstad also
led a group as part of the pioneering AFI Digital Content Lab that created a
prototype that allowed viewers with a game console to fight a battle synchronized with a battle scene in an episode of Battlestar Galactica. Much of his design work
has been an attempt to open up the z-axis as an informational depth, including
3-D approaches that work with gestures, similar to the interface in the film
Minority Report (2002), which he collaborated on.

My own eTV Lab at Georgia Tech worked with the AFI Digital Content Lab
and the Cartoon Network on a prototype for attaching a sync game to a
broadband episode of the children’s show Ben 10. The game asked viewers to
click on and capture magical items from the broadband video stream. We took
this approach rather than the more common trivia-game approach (then the
industry standard, and still all too common) in order to focus attention within
the fictional world. We also explored how a similar framework of simple
interaction—clicking on an intriguing item in a scene, like a leading character’s
tattoo in Lost—might lead to deeper backstory revelations.

  1. Some other promising interactive storytelling ideas identified in this chapter that remain unexplored:
    • Simultaneous actions presented as exclusive choices, such as deciding which character’s point of view to follow or where to navigate in a simulated space. Mitchell Horwitz, the creator of Arrested Development, explored this
    possibility as an affordance of the simultaneous release of all episodes when the series moved from conventional television to Netflix, as I discuss in this blogpost.
    • Multiple broadcasts of a multiform story with viewer input determining the
    various ways the same scenario might play out, based on a predetermined
    but highly variable set of alternatives. A Finnish television show, Accidental
    Lovers, explored this possibility, allowing viewers to determine how a
    relationship between two artists, an older woman and a younger man, might
    develop through mobile messages to the show.
    • Hidden channels of information in a scene, like text messages, letters on a
    desk, or unspoken thoughts that can be accessed on separate devices or with special codes. This is a common game mechanic, used, for example, in
    mystery-story games like Gone Home and in alternate reality games, but
    not, as yet, in interactive television.
    • Situating the viewer as a virtual neighbor of the main characters in an
    episodic TV series, with unique experiences and role-playing opportunities.
    The interactive world would share some events with the scripted episodic
    story, and the viewer-interactors in their character roles could react to and
    collectively affect events in the canonical series. Transmedia games are
    beginning to explore the design components of such a shared fictional storyworld. For example, Telltale’s Game of Thrones: Fire from Ice (2014)
    platform game takes place in distinct but partially overlapping spaces from
    the canonical series, and invokes events that have already been shown in the serialized HBO drama. The experience works best when simultaneous
    events from the series are heard about through third parties, but it falls into
    the “uncanny valley” when the registers of representation conflict with the
    iconic TV series characters appearing as awkward cartoon versions within
    the game.

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