Chris Hales: interactive movies, Kinoautomat and much more

Non-linear narratives
Works and teaches in Sweden

Mid-90s: film with colourful objects/hot spots acting as clickable or touchable links to other clips.
Audience sings, or moves, to make things happen. Movement yielded enthusiastic results (//engagement)

– movie as interface
– algorithmic multiscreen
– live performance to large audience

Searching for types of live action video ‘story’ which are suitable for interactivity.

Working more with visual ‘scripts’, rather than dialogue or a written narrative. Children’s motifs, developed into film ideas.

“Jinxed” – an interactive movie, where objects very briefly become active ‘touch points’ and set off calamitous events where the character hurts himself in a slapstick manner. You have to stay alert to notice and click on the active objects while they are active. Playful character – interaction not based on progress, but curiosity.

“Messed up” – you progressively mess the life of the guy in the film up more and more. Knocking his washing over, shaking his champagne until it explodes, push the bowl of nuts off the table, knock a bottle of wine over onto the carpet, etc. He gets gradually more and more unhappy. If you succeed in messing his life up enough, you ‘progress’ onto another level. According to Chris, this piece was not as successful as Jinxed in terms of audience response – although more complex and following a more conventional games structure (progressing onto another level), people did not find it as funny or engaging as Jinxed.

“Len’s Stories” – from Chris’s period of teaching in Bristol. Len was an old school technician in the college, telling people about his colourful life. Sometimes Len became sleepy, or forgot, and then you had to prompt him… Unless you kept engaged, he would drop out of his story – so if you wanted to hear the story, you had to stay engaged and active.

“Greenland” and “Göta Älv” movie ‘pictures’ with a skier, and a rower, respectively, trying to get across the screen. If you don’t encourage them, the landscape tilts so that they cannot. You have to make rhythmic sounds, like shouting “row, row, row!” or clapping to keep the landscape on even keel so that they can get across.

“The Duel” a spaghetti western about two knife-wielding Finnish men in Lapland. Sergio Leone-inspired bleakness. One of them is called “Mr. Blue”, the other one “Mr. Green”, and you have to give them energy with blue or green light to increase their life expectancy (breaths). Audiences tended to want to extend the life span of both characters, and worked quite hard to keep them alive.

“Crescendo”, also filmed in Finland. A pianist and a budding opera singer. You have to sing in order to help the singer break the pianist’s glasses. After that, the singer pours herself a glass of wine. Again, the audience has to sing to bring a red line across from the singer frame, to the pianist’s sheet music and broken glasses frame, and on to the frame showing the full wine glass – and break it. Next, the singer moves on to pouring a glass of beer. Same sort of thing happens. After that, she goes out on a balcony and sings, while a man hides behind a newspaper on the toilet. Same thing again, the audience has to sing, and help her break all the windows in the building. It finishes with the audience helping her break (an image of) the video projector.

“Mr. Sardonicus” is a fake interactive movie, in that there appears to be a choice, but the end result is always thumbs down for Mr. Sardonicus…

Interesting film project to check out further: Obsession by Pia Tikka.

1967 – the worlds first interactive film – Kinoautomat. Made by Czech artists, which is interesting as it was a ‘democratic film’, made in a communist regime. (Cincera.) First film for the Kinoautomat: “A Man and his House”.

Storylines that converge, even as different choices are made en route – recombinant.

Broader definition now; VJing, live cinema, collab film making, 3D games, machinima, virtual worlds, youtube tagging and video responses/conversations, mobile phones, iPhone apps, iPod – touchscreens are back.

Just Jack the Day I Died Official Viral – YouTube interactive video.


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