RCA 1995-1997

Dan Sellars post-graduate design study was at the Royal College of Art. The image above is taken from the interactive narrative project that he directed/designed as part of the industrial design/computer-related design 1997 show.

Nine Star Ki was a late-night interactive film experiment running on three TV channels simultaneously. You would be allowing viewers to experience a thriller by switching between opposing points of view. This conceptual interactive tv prototype could be deployed assuming three UK network television stations would agree to run the films simultaneously.

2 Replies to “RCA 1995-1997”

  1. This was an interactive thriller that offered viewers the chance to switch back and forth between channels. Your goal — unravel the mystery and unlock hidden secrets about the protagonist.

    Each channel has a different point of view on the same story. Your choice was to follow either a first person perspective or take a third person perspective. Jumping in and out was effectively like channel surfing your own film. I figured people have short attention spans, why not let them jump about and see if they become intrigued enough to watch it over and over….?

    It was a three minute looping film, with 3 channels for narrative and 1 channel for accompanying information/guidance. It was build in Macromedia Director and was powered from an Apple G3 PowerPC running full screen video from RAID drives.

    nine star ki - storyboard image

    This image shows the parallel relationship of each narrative. Jumping between streams would allow the user to gain a new perspective. The first prototype was first built using just storyboards.

    After that, small mini sequences were shot, edited and tested for effectiveness. The aim – build up a group of story sequences that had poetic visual rhythm/parallels/juxtaposition. We devised ways to make an inventive visual story, avoiding dialogue most of the time, always thinking about what it would “feel” like when channel surfing.

    Inspiration came from filmmakers like Chris Marker and Luc Besson’s first feature film, The Last Battle

    The Last Battle

    “Repeating the prototype process over and over…highly iterative, just like everything I had learned about interaction design”

    Post-Production — Long before the advent of Avid and Final Cut Pro offering time code sync/multi-camera editing packages. The result? Edit each film individually in Adobe Premiere, using time markers and count down clocks. Exceptionally long editing sessions, filming during the day and editing at night.

    nine star ki - storyboard image

    The perpetual question:
    “Would that be a fun/interesting/daring to watch/interact with on TV?”

    Storyboards usually seemed realistic but they were never enough to validate an interactive sequence for “feel”. In the end, hundreds of mini-storyboard frames were eventually drawn, each one logged and assigned a particular reference prior to interactive testing. HASTILY scanned drawings comprised most of the interactive line tests.

    nine star ki - storyboard image

    nine star ki - storyboard image

    nine star ki - storyboard image

    nine star ki - storyboard image

  2. The lofty premise/concept was to devise a simple but highly innovative ‘channel surfing tv’ experience without the intervention of a major high-tech network. It worked. It could be done and could be a brilliant opportunity to “take-over-tv” late at night. Latency, after all, is the time it takes to switch channels, therein lies your playbook for creativity.

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