We’ve been on the verge of interactive and non-linear interactive storytelling in animated filmmaking for years now, and 2015 may finally be the year that these concepts enter the mainstream, due in large part to technical advancements made to the hardware/software needed to produce and watch these projects.
Yesterday the National Film Board of Canada launched the interactive website Way to Go. It’s an excellent demonstration of how to blend interactivity and animation into an immensely satisfying viewing experience that engages the senses. The film can be watched/played for free on Chrome web browsers at A-Way-To-Go.com. The experience is designed to last approximately six to ten minutes, although it could take longer depending on how you interact with it.
My interaction with the film was so frequent, especially in terms of the number of buttons that I was pressing, that at times it felt like I was playing a video game. So what was the difference? The distinction I would make between games and interactive films is that in games, buttons are pressed to accomplish a task, whereas in filmic experiences, buttons are pressed purely for the sake of advancing a narrative that provides some kind of aesthetic or auditory satsifaction. But as Way to Go suggests, these experiences could merge together someday.