Second Screen Experiences Will Change The Way We Watch Films

Second Screen Experiences Will Change The Way We Watch Films

The Future of Entertainment series by iQ by Intel and PSFK Labs is highlighting the latest in entertainment innovation. Over the course of 10 weeks at, we are showcasing new products, services and technologies, exploring the changing face of how we consume, share and create content and getting reactions from Intel experts. 

As we continue our exploration of the this week’s Future of Entertainment trend Multi-Dimensional Entertainment, which looks at the way content producers are building stories for our multi-device viewing habits, we catch up with Bobby Boermans, director of App, a film that sends content to viewers’ phones to immerse them more deeply in the plot. He tells us about the creative inspiration and challenges of designing these kind of experiences and what audiences can expect down the road. Check out yesterday’s post to learn more about how filmmakers are experimenting with second screen apps that sync with the plot.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the film.

We wanted to do something original, something fresh, but especially something that was targeted towards the young audience.

Then we just thought, “Kids these days are stuck with their phone, even in the theater. Let’s set up a storyline revolving around an evil app.” Then we started writing the story and the basic treatment, a small form script basically.

We knew up front that we had to develop an app complementary to the film itself, but we thought that it was going to be just a standard app that you see with most movies these days.

Then we came across this company called Civolution, that had this technology that’s called “digital watermark content‑added application system” and realized that there was a lot more that we could do.

 What kinds of experiences did you create for the audience?

After we finished shooting the film, we came up with the idea of messages that the characters are texting each other during a party. While the party is happening on the screen, you see the text messages of the characters coming in on your phone.

Or in a scene when the main character leaves the principal’s office, the story in thee big screen continues, but on your phone, you see who’s coming into the principal’s office after her.

We have graphics that you get on your phone. You have certain pieces of scenes that you have different camera angles, where you get a different dynamic of, dramatically, what the scene is. It’s pretty interesting, because you can literally play with how much do you want the audience to know, and how much do you want them to be even further ahead than the main character of the film itself? That’s an interesting dynamic that you can play with.

The whole engagement and the freaky‑ness of the storyline even starts before you actually enter the theater. When the actual app that you downloaded starts talking towards you, that makes it so much more fun and after you walk out of the theater the experience continues. Two hours later, you get a push notification that says, “Now, I’m going to mess up your phone,” basically while you have the actual app on your phone.

Can you explain some of the challenges?

We started testing it and discovering it while we were going and discovered some different challenges from working with TV because in a TV scenario you’re more comfortable on a couch, and you’re alone, and you can use sound and whatever, but in a theater, you can’t use that.

You have to be aware of the brightness that the app has, the fact that you can’t use sound in the theater, and the fact that the audience can’t miss some second screen elements. You have to use the vibration device to make the audience aware that there’s something coming on their phone.

We shot the movie like any regular movie, but the interesting thing came in when we started in post‑production, we started editing, is that you have to really be aware of timing, because when are you going to show one thing on the big screen and the other thing on the small screen or your phone?

We purposely edited some scenes a little bit longer so that you wouldn’t miss any important story or plot points at the moment that you were looking on your phone, because that’s one thing that you don’t want to happen, is that people miss important stuff. We had to extend some scenes, and make them longer, and then make it fit in exactly.

What does this mean for the moviegoing experience?

I think it definitely enriches the story, and it makes it just more entertaining. You’re more aware of everything. You’re more connected to the story because you get all this extra info. It just makes the whole experience so much richer.

We’re not there yet, but I think the next step will be the audience interactively influencing the storyline in the future. Down the line, we’ll be able to decide which way a character goes into a story. I think that would be a very awesome thing. In general, just with a second screen app, it makes it just more fun as well. It’s just a richer experience, a richer entertainment experience.

It probably is a little bit different when you do a costume drama that is set in the 1920s, or the 16th century, but I can really well imagine that big summer blockbusters, or science fiction movies, or modern technology movies make use of that second screen. It’s just that it all has to come from inside, and it all has to come from something that makes logical sense.

I can imagine that you have a Harry Potter-type movie for instance, you could do interactive things, and tricks, and stuff, that makes it really cool to use the app ad adds a lot to the film itself.

As we revisit the Inside The Story theme in the coming weeks, we will show you examples of how developers are breaking new ground on deeper levels of immersion meant to bring viewers into a story and heighten the sensorial experience.

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