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December 13, 2010

Prediction that I made in 1985 technically fulfilled

I made a set of public predictions for the Honeywell Canada Futurist Essay competition of 1985. One of the predictions in the essay was that there would be movies in 2010 where the audience could choose aspects of the plot. This has been technically achieved and a movie with this capability has been screened by audiences.

Tel Aviv University lets you change the course of a film with the click of a button.

A new movie format developed by Tel Aviv University lets the viewer decide.

Utilizing complicated video coding procedures, the new format provides smooth interaction and transition between scenes as audience members watch — and determine the plot of — Turbulence, created by Prof. Nitzan Ben Shaul of Tel Aviv University's Department of Film and Television. Made with his unique scene-sequencing technique, Turbulence recently won a prize at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival for its technological innovation.



"The film gives people the suspense and thrill of multiple outcomes like those of the films Sliding Doors or Run Lola Run, but it also gives them the power to really choose and influence at a number of key points how the plot of the movie will proceed," says Prof. Ben Shaul. Curious viewers can backtrack, too — they can go back to a narrative crossroads to see what might have been, never seeing the same ending twice.

Using Prof. Ben Shaul's innovative format, the viewer watches the film on a regular or a touch-screen monitor, and an iridescent glow appears on certain "action items" at pivotal plot moments. The viewer can choose whether or not to interact. Should Sol send the text message? If the viewer thinks so, he clicks or touches the screen and activates the cell phone held by the actor.

Turbulence comes with an attractive plot, however it's played out. Three Israeli friends, Edi, Sol and Rona, meet by chance in Manhattan. Twenty years in the past, a protest over the Lebanon War led to an arrest, and the three friends went separate ways. Now, in present-day New York, they say goodbye to the past and two of the characters rekindle a love affair.

History of the Prediction

There was classic arcade video game from 1983 called Dragon's Lair

Dragon's Lair features the hero, Dirk the Daring, attempting to rescue Princess Daphne from the evil dragon Singe, who has locked Daphne in a wizard's castle. The screen shows animated scenes, and the player executes an action by selecting a direction or pressing the sword button with correct timing.

My thinking was that with a lot of computer memory it would be simple to put some voting buttons in the theater and then have a majority decision determine the path of the plot. I believed that it would be a novelty that could encourage repeat viewing.


I am not sure whether Honeywell Canada kept copies of my essay. There was a mention of my winning a second place award in some small time newspapers (University of Regina, perhaps the Leader Post - Regina newspaper.) and I was interviewed for a radio spot at the time discussing the essay.

The prediction is trivial and the fulfillment of is marginal.



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