From in-built interactive tools on YouTube to fully immersive virtual reality experiences, below are our definitions of the terms. We’ve also included some of the examples we unearthed for and shared in our Beyond Film seminar, and provided some tips for making good use of these platforms/technologies.
You Tube / Interactive
Interactive video can be an incredibly complex undertaking. For example, if you think of a decision point having 2 possible options and you build in 4 decision points to your story, each with differing outcomes, you’ll need to devise / create 31 possible scenes.
That said, YouTube has an entry level of interactivity built in. You can add annotations (hot spots) to a film for your audience to click if they want to find out more. These can also be used to return your audience to where they left the first film. We recommend using annotations relatively sparely, so your audience still has the opportunity to enjoy the journey. We also recommend linking to the other pieces of content again at the end of the main film so the audience can choose to learn more after watching the main narrative through.
It’s also crucial to signpost the annotations clearly so your audience knows what they are being asked to do. In this example we produced with UKTI (before the reform of the department), about helping businesses think about exporting to other countries, we devised an animation that incorporated the annotation instructions in the style of the animation. The annotations lead to interview-based films that provide more detailed information and tips about some of the issues.
Placing content on platforms and social media
In an increasingly competitive online space it’s crucial to consider how you’re going to reach your audience in the first place – there’s no point making even the most compelling piece of content if it sits in the corner unobserved. So consider the platforms your audience uses, Reuters, Newspapers, online video platforms, Linkedin, Facebook and so on and use them to point people to your content. Understanding which channels are best for your audience is important: Facebook for more consumer, less serious content; LinkedIn for more serious audiences. It’s also worth being mindful of the assets you’re generating for these platforms, make sure they are attention grabbing, compelling and clearly signposted.
Media Display Units and Plasma screens
It’s also vital to consider the viewing circumstances for your audience. In a similar way to thinking about cut through on social media, when commissioning content for MDU’s and plasma screens, be mindful of the clutter – a barrage of imagery in busy city locations, people on the move in airports or on public transport, or with their mind on other things in reception areas. So your content needs to work mute, grab attention and deliver your message clearly and distinctly. These films we made for Visit Britain were devised to cut through on social and grab attention on airport MDUs.
Using MI techniques for mobile, apps and digital
Users are demanding ever-richer experiences on mobile, apps and digital platforms, from the animation while waiting for things to load to the responsiveness of buttons when they are pushed. But, more importantly, you can use animation craft and moving image techniques to signpost to your users what you would like them to do, delight them and reward them for spending time engaging with your product and service, and importantly, keep up with your competitors. We all experience and expect moving image elements within apps and other platforms – we just don’t always realise it.
While projection is by no means new and cutting edge, there are new and incredible ways in which we can use it. By creating images that take the shape of the object or building we are projecting onto we can delight audiences with visual spectacle. While at one end of the spectrum, we could use these techniques for product launches or high-profile events, it would be entirely possible to use these techniques to add richness, spectacle or fun to public spaces, reception areas, launch events and so on. This film of the Sydney opera house is a great example of this technique in action:
Using motion sensors, we can now craft moving image that responds to what people do, their facial expressions or movements. A great example of this is the Chris Milk installation made for the Barbican. While at the moment these techniques have mainly been used for artistic purposes, it is easy to see how they could be harnessed for communication, perhaps looking at how our bodies age, or providing interactivity at an event or product launch. It would also be a great way to help guide audiences or customers to move through your building/exhibition in a specific way.
Virtual Reality - 360° video
360° video is a great entry point into VR for audiences and communicators. You can design it for use with or without a headset, but it is a way to give some control to your audience about what they look at and focus on whilst retaining control of the messaging and story. You can imagine the power of putting your audience in a situation they might not otherwise experience.
Some great examples of this have been made by the New York Times, two are here (google cardboard or VR viewer needed):
Virtual reality – interactive
Requiring a headset and careful design, these experiences are entirely computer generated, the viewer has freedom explore them as they choose, and they are fully immersive. Remember your responsibility as a communicator to reward your audiences with an experience that’s worth the effort. Whilst VR has been seen as a ‘wow’ we’re already passing the top of the cool factor curve, and audiences are no longer happy with just the newness of the experience. They are demanding the same level of craft, detail and curation to their experiences that they would get with a traditional linear story.
Usually designed for use with tablets and mobile phones, augmented reality is adding an extra layer of information over the real world. The most prevalent example of this is Pokemon Go, but this technique can be very powerful for training, product and service information and helping people understand and see the world in specific ways – by overlaying it with information. It’s usually intuitive for audiences to play with, and is a far more engaging and tactile way to get your audience to connect with sometimes dry subject matter.