Planning Interactive Films

One of the most defining media of our century is the computer game. Now, cinema, streams and TV productions are becoming an equally interactive experience.

Reading time: 4 min

Current Developments

Gamified films for cinema and smart TV are on the rise. In April 2018, 20th Century Fox (Disney) announced that they would start producing interactive cinema films. The first production is going be the cinema adaptation of the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. The cinema audience will jointly decide on the plot in real time and determine the conclusion themselves. The main attraction of the new technology is that the film continues while the viewers input their decisions. Software for changing videos in real time were already presented in 2009 during the CeBIT trade fair. With the current developments, the viewing experience now becomes an altogether seamless full-motion video.

Interactive films, however, are not all that new. In 2016, the app-controlled film “Late Shift” was shown in selected cinemas. Viewers were able to vote in up to 180 decisions. Using their smartphones, they could even change the camera perspective during the screening. Also in 2016, German public broadcasters experimented with interactive programmes. During the non-linear TV film “Terror – Ihr Urteil” (Terror – Your Verdict) approx. 600 000 viewers voted about two possible conclusion scenarios.

In December 2018, VOD provider Netflix published its own production “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” as a multi-strand narrative. In-depth viewer interactions such as chatting with the main character raised the film experience to a new level. The production was an international ratings hit. In March 2019, the streaming giant announced that they were going to further strengthen their commitment to interactive productions. The trend is set to become mainstream soon. ❙❙

Strengths of Interactive Films

For Viewers:
Films offering freedom of choice actively engage their audiences. The shared experience of voting strengthens the social vibe in the cinema. With streaming or in front of their TV at home, users can enjoy their autonomy.

For Broadcasters and Production Companies:
TV benefits from its viewers’ loyalty thanks to live decisions (Link Blog). In the cinema, the interactive film experience appeals to the sought-after target group of young viewers. And there is another advantage for producers: Distributing illegal recordings is not very tempting for interactive films.

Planning Interactive Productions

Planning multi-strand stories is more complex compared to linear narratives. In the Playstation blog, “Late Shift“ director Tobias Weber speaks about shooting the film. Not only the actors faced extra work – there were several versions of the soundtrack too. Also, there are the added efforts for costumes, props, make-up artists and possibly even venues for different plot strands. This multitude of variations should be neatly managed in production planning.

In order to keep production costs in check despite complex workflows, film companies require an efficient planning tool.

A suitable tool for planning interactive films is the CEITON Idea Management. The application models all ideas, variations and the respective budget for planning purposes.

After approval, production ideas are directly transformed into clear processes. Assigning employees, material goods, studios and technical equipment is done in one flexible tool which can always be extended. Interfaces to production software and apps can be integrated.

Workflow in CEITON

Our consultant will be happy to inform you about the CEITON system in an initial presentation for free!

About the author Sarah Barnert

Sarah oversees our social media channels and writes about industry trends.