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IMDB Trivia

Making that 73rd viewing of Die Hard a little bit more more fun

Tony Goff-Yu
Sep 25, 2014 · 4 min read

Every now and then we all have ideas. Some are good, some are bad. This is an idea that I’ve had in my head for about five years now which was born out of rewatching films and loving film trivia.

Having yet to see anyone make it, and not being a developer myself nor having access to the data that would be required to make this work, I wanted to put my idea out there in the hope that someone, somewhere, liked it and would make it all come together.

Film trivia + pop up video + shazam= app

The idea came to me late one night when I was rewatching Die Hard for the 73rd upteempth time. Even though I had seen the film countless times before there was still a lot of enjoyment to be had from lying on my sofa watching the film while simultaneously reading about it on the IMDB.

After checking out numerous films and learning a wealth of interesting trivia it occurred to me that there should really be an app for this. An app that could give you trivia on any film that you were watching in real time.

A big influence on how I imagined this working was Pop Up Video from the late 90's. It was a music television show in the UK that popped up bubbles of information on top of music videos.


The app would be quite simple. The user would open it up, press the listen/go button and when the app detected a certain scene in a film it would pop up relevant trivia for the user to read.

Once new trivia popped up, or slid in from the right of the screen, the previous trivia would go into a stack. Users could access older trivia by swiping left to right on their screen to go backwards in the stack.

If they wanted to change the type of trivia being shown, they could access a menu and select from four or five preset filters: All, Locations, Connections or Music.

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Users could also rate a fact as interesting or not, something the IMDB currently does within its existing platforms, or share the trivia on some social platforms.

Spotify could also be integrated into the app so that users could save a music track to an IMDB Trivia playlist.

Finally there could also be a night mode, for those late night scary movies, where the interface switches to a more recessed darker colour palette.

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So how does it work?

There are a few technical issues to work out. The algorithm that would be needed to identify a film is a pretty big issue. How that works, I have no idea.

One of the other issues is the time indexing of trivia. IMDB lists lots of information, but for the app to work as intended, it would need to be time indexed. Users watching a film would need the right trivia to pop up at the right time.

Some of this might exist in databases somewhere but you’re likely looking at manually syncing these entries. That would require a lot of time and money, which means that the initial app would be limited in scope. You could base it on the IMDB Top 250 or potentially the top one hundred most rerun films on television but either way, it would take a lot of time to get the data syncing.

Another possibility would be some agreement with a network. For example HBO or the BBC could provide data about their films which you could use to create a partner app or indeed a HBO/BBC Trivia app on their own away from the IMDB.

You could of course make the app a lot simpler. If a user manually searched/typed the film that was on and dragged a slider to indicate where they were in the running time, it would avoid the listening algorithm issue. However it wouldn’t account for adverts or those lovely channels that break up a film with a 9pm news bulletin.

A more logical extension of this idea could be an addition of a stream service like Netflix. This has the benefit of not needing the listening algorithm as the trivia would be time indexed to the film playing. The app could be part of Netflix or an addition to a smart television/console.

So there’s my idea. This is very much a top level explanation of how it could look and work but if anyone has any thoughts, or knows how to make it work, please let me know.


I posted this idea in the IMDB Community and discovered that this feature does already exist, albeit only on the Amazon Firefly or Amazon Kindle devices. Hopefully this feature will be accessible on other devices in the future.


Occasional design musings.

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