South by Southwest
Power to the People!

We all know that content is king. Obvious, right? The trick is getting consumers to engage with it on a deeper level. Enter the age of interactive storytelling, as described by Yoni Bloch, founder and CEO, of Interlude, at SXSW. In this era, consumers take control, engage longer and deeper, and walk away feeling inspired that they played some significant part of the story.

In discussing what’s next for film and music in the world of interactive videos, Bloch referred to his interactive “Like A Rolling Stone” work for Bob Dylan. In it, viewers can toggle among sixteen channels of simulated TV programming while the song is playing. You seem to be watching a game show, a weather report, or a QVC-type shopping network—except that everyone is lip-synching the lyrics of the song.

How was this possible? Bloch’s Interlude created a suite of authoring tools that allows filmmakers to create interactive content that empowers viewers to choose their own journey, providing seamless transition and control.

The results speak volumes: When viewers are able to take control, they engage for four times longer than they do with conventional content. With the Dylan song, some viewers remained on board for up to four times the length of the actual song.

And Bloch pointed out that this goes beyond gimmicky choose-your-own-adventure content. It was about telling a complete story that engages the user while keeping the artistic integrity intact, he said.

The technology goes beyond flipping between screens all the way finding a method to influence what’s happening with the content you’re watching, Bloch said. Viewers can click on hidden hot spots on the screen to make the story veer in a different direction. For example: A girl sitting in the corner of a restaurant—someone most viewers would overlook when watching a couple share a coffee—turns out to have a profound impact on the plot; a click reveals to the couple that he had been cheating on her with the all-but-unnoticed anonymous woman.

Brands are quickly getting on board with these kinds of experiences. Viewers of a seemingly traditional Porsche TV spot can actually interact with the vehicle, seamlessly choosing options, colors, and rims while watching the vehicle zoom down the road.

Another cool aspect of Interlude’s technology: The decision-making engine can exist outside of the platform, allowing viewers in an audience to make choices collectively via smartphone. This could have far-reaching implications for filmmakers seeking to engage a live audience.

This is the future of this method of storytelling, Bloch said. More script writers will embrace this concept, and it will pop up in various industries, from virtual home tours to sandbox modes where viewers can travel through completely non-linear and interactive worlds.

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