Interactive Spectatorships

Media Viewing Practices in the Digital Age

Watching others play video games is the new spectator sport

As the UK’s largest gaming festival, Insomnia, wrapped up its latest event on August 25, I watched a short piece of BBC Breakfast news reporting from the festival. The reporter and some of the interviewees appeared baffled at the huge popularity of “videogame livestreaming”, otherwise known as gamers watching other gamers playing games. The Wall Street Journal recently christened videogames a “spectator sport”, but for millions of us who inhabit the worlds of gaming and technology, this is actually old news. Click here for full article.

Two stories on Nolan's Interstellar

Variety magazine discusses a marketing move involving a traveling exhibit which uses the Oculus Rift VR headset to experience zero gravity featured in the Film's Endurance Space Craft. Click to read article. Meanwhile Blastr website discusses complains from certain exhibitors about the decision to release Interstellar 2 days early to cinemas who can project the movie on film rather than digital. Click here to read.

Is ultra-real 3D the future of cinema?

Robbie Collins in the Telegraph talk's to Stanley Kubrick's former effects master and director of cult sci-fi classic Silent Running Douglas Trumbull about his 10-minute experimental film UFOTOG. "The film looks different because it’s projected at a speed of 120 frames per second: very simply, that means your eyes receive five times as much visual information as they do during ordinary films, which are projected at 24 frames per second". Interestingly the article suggest that the 4K ed technology being used returns the viewer to a feeling of awe and wonder imbued by early cinematic spectacle. Click to read the full article.

BFI screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey at Jodrell Bank

Cinema meets science at Jodrell Bank with a special screening, taking place on the 3rd of October, of 2001: A Space Odyssey! Here's a sneak peek from the rehearsal:

The Rise of the Second Screen
A recent Nielsen study showed that 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smartphone owners used their devices while also watching television at least once a day. And while this is only a slight increase in percentage from 2011, the number of tablets and smartphones has continued to grow. The same Nielsen study found usage of mobile devices has doubled since last year. All of this data continues to show that there are more people on more devices watching more and more overlapping content on their second screens. With users continuing to put up more screens in front of their TVs, more services, apps, and companies are flocking to provide relevant, supporting content and add value to what is happening on the primary screen. Click here to read full article.

Secret Cinema: Immersion into Cinema's Future Past.

The appeal of Secret Cinema seems to derive from a competing set of discourses that characterise the precarious position of contemporary film spectatorship. In one sense it caters to a symbolic, perhaps even nostalgic yearning, for the ‘magic’ of the cinematic space. Secret Cinema arguably looks to reaffirm the sense of experience confronting these challenges head on by amalgamating the film text with theatrical display, creating performance beyond the screen and  integrating the audience as participants rather than viewers. Read my blog on my own experience of Secret Cinema's presentation of Back to the Future.

Tarantino: Cinema is Dead.
Quentin Tarantino has declared “cinema is dead” at the Cannes film festival, where he argued screening films in digital is simply forcing an audience to watch television in public and lambasted established film makers for turning their back on 35 mm film. Speaking at the festival where the director won the Palme d'Or prize in 1994 for his cult film Pulp Fiction, Tarantino condemned digital projections as a poor substitute for the "real thing". Read the full article from the Independent.

Cultural Endurance Outside the Movie Theatre

This New Yorker article discusses the cross platform distribution of indie film Blue Ruin. It suggests that to optimise audiences and therefore revenue new distribution practices are increasingly being used particularly through VOD (Video on Demand). However according to the article such moves are yet to be endorsed by most filmmakers. Read the full article here

Second screening and social media interaction

Chinese movie theatres running interactive onscreen text messaging.  

Article on the Film School Rejects website that laments the practice in Chinese film theatres of projected comments from audience members appearing on the screen during a film. The article undoubtedly asserts the binary opposition between such interactive practices as a gimmick and the pure philosophy of 'traditional' film spectatorship (as defined in the West). Interesting the article references the film Web Junkie which suggest China has recognised web addiction as a clinical condition. Also highlighted versions of the screening in which a second screen is used very similar to the Interactive spectatorships project. The article in damming in its appraisal of what it calls 'new social problem' idea but fails to offer any possible sense of alternative viewing pleasures/outcomes that the practice might create. To read the full article click here

Coming Soon - Choose Your Own Adventure Movies

Following years of turning video and board games into movies you watch passively, conserving your energy for snacks, 20th Century Fox is now looking to a more primitive form of interactive entertainment in adapting Choose Your Own Adventure. The long-running book series—which used forked narratives to allow readers to determine its protagonists’ fates, then immediately go back and pick a better one after discovering they’d died—is now being developed into an appropriately twisty “crossplatform four-quadrant action-adventure franchise.” As of now it’s still figuring out what narrative form that will take, given the many different story genres, time periods, locales, and character types the series covered. Full Article here.

Here are some images from my recent talk in London at the "Social Cinema" at #GAGLDN hosted by Check out my blog on the night here.