Ever found yourself yelling, "Noooo, don't do it!" at a movie screen? Or been in the mood for a happy ending and found yourself halfway through a film you knew would leave you in a puddle of tears?
A new system out of Israel's Tel Aviv University allows viewers to influence a movie's plot while viewing it, thus affecting the progression of events. For now, audiences are testing the technology with a full-length interactive pilot feature, "Turbulence." But the plan is to extend the tool to other "hyper-narrative interactive movies," including commercials and television series, said Nitzan Ben Shaul, a professor of film and television studies at the university who created the system.
Called InSplit, it consists of a Web-based basic editor and a standalone player for editing and playing interactive branching narrative videos. The interaction takes the form of an iridescent glow that appears onscreen as an "action item" at pivotal plot moments. Should a character send a defining text message, for example?
If viewers think so, they tap the screen of the standalone player or click "send" on a Mac or PC to activate the actor's cell phone. If the viewer hesitates too long, the action will continue on a predetermined course.
Ben Shaul said he was inspired by "Sliding Doors" and "Run Lola Run," two films that give audiences the suspense and thrill of multiple outcomes.
"They make you think about options in life, but they don't let you experience what responsibility feels like at crucial decision points," he said. "In our film you decide where the character should go, and you can decide to return to the point where the plot flipped. It's gripping." … Read more