I’m a comic book fan. Have been since I was a kid. I like to think that it guided me to where I am today. Looking at things in a creative and innovative way can definitely be attributed in some small way to my early love of fantasy, comics & video games. What’s all this rambling have to do with the interactions part of this blog post’s title? Well for starters the I a high level of interaction in video games (duh!). Secondly people don’t always give comics the credit – artistic or otherwise that they deserve. Comic books require the user to let go. They demand that you continue reading them. Some even have created fake ads to further drag you into their world.
One of the great examples of this type of comic book is Watchmen, published in 1986. This was a ground breaking book, both in it’s literary substance as well as it’s visual style. When the talk of this book being made into a movie (something that had been talked about since the book’s release) fans went nuts. I admit I was excited… but more for the director than anything else. Many fans of the book will think I’m nuts but I feel that the choice of director one with true vision, not just style is needed to bring Comics to life and to embrace their potential of interactivity. Zach Snyder is for me a new breed of director, one that sees the life of his films beyond the theater and into the home and hands of the viewers.
Last night I started to watch the Watchmen Blue-ray disc. I saw the movie when it was in the theaters (IMAX opening night, so there!), but was eager to see it again since I really liked it. I also wanted to see the additional footage that was added in since this is a director’s cut. The contents of the disc are fairly common but it’s the presentation that really gets into how interactive & immersive this endeavor is. The movie just starts… which may seem counter to being interactive but it’s not… you get placed into the world immediately. But watching the movie is just part of the disc. The really cool thing is the added content that if you get while watching the “Maximum Movie Mode” enhanced version. As you watch the movie time lines pop up showing relevant dates from the movie and the real world. The user (since this is requiring interactions on the viewers part we are no longer just viewers but have transitioned to users) is presented with icons when there is a part in the movie that has more content to explore. When you activate this content the director walks back on screen to explain the scene or present cast interviews or how the scenes were shot or prepared for or how the effects were created.
In addition to the “Maximum Movie Mode” there is one more interesting “interactive” component. BD Live, is an online component that allows user to interact while watching the movie. On July 25 WB hosted a live screening from ComicCon hosted by Zach Snyder. This is great for all the fans in San Diego, but the BD Live feature let anyone with a compatible player and internet connect to watch it live as it was happening.
Now some may ask what does this all have to do with interaction design and interactivity. Well this is the future. Seriously. If we think about where entertainment and information is going… they are converging. As our sources of information and entertainment converge more examples of this type of immersion & interactivity with our entertainment will be come standard and the envelope will begin to be pushed. If you think of devices such as the PS3 which has an internet connection and even a camera are things such as Augmented Reality far off from our at home movie going experience? Are we going to see personalized content in movies using things such as FaceBook Connect to draw our data into the experience?