Nothing will be the same again — BBC’s Visual Perceptive Media project will end the shared story experience

Steffen Konrath
Dec 5, 2015 · 3 min read

Time is over for shared experiences when watching TV. Based on the answers you give in an app, your listening history, gender, age, or location and time of the day, this video will adjust the story based on your personality taking your mood into account. Two people won’t be watching a story unfolding in the same way again and even you might experience a different narrative at another time.

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Screenshot taken from the BBC demo video

Will users welcome technology which adjusts to their personalities? Will we need more screens to watch the same film in the living room? The complexity of storytelling won’t decrease if you split experiences based on data you gather from profiling questions.

Visual Perceptive Media is a film which explores the limits of personalization in the film industry. The way you listen to music and personality questions asked in an accompanying app paired with gender and age information will determine what you will see on screen. The screenshot above shows how such films create a parallel story universe, which will only visible to you if you’re a female or male viewer. Filters might help to adjust the color appearance based on your overall mode. The BBC considers the narrative itself, background music, color grading and the overall mood as configurable parameters which can be adjusted based on data gathered about you. A demo movie produced in the BBC lab in MediaCityUK explains in more detail how whole scenes might change or get dropped to create personalized experiences.

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Screenshot taken from the BBC demo video at 01:47

In its current experimental state the film uses data gathered via an app, but the BBC clearly says, that in the future of course any service could be used as a base to personalize the film experience. To reach that level of personalization, a different technological approach to film making and distribution had to be taken and film elements are now interpreted as objects.

The lab project surfaces interesting questions of how much personalized experiences are really welcomed by viewers? How much shared experience do we need? Do we get lost in a complexity of storytelling, if no film is like the other and even the experience of a single person watching a film multiple times could alter the narrative, based on individual variables which will likely change over time e.g. mood? What does that mean for advertising? Will such profile data enable more sophisticated targeting? Would the advertising industry be ready for such a realtime experience which will likely increase the costs of producing adequate advertising material?

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