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This interactive movie alters the plot based on your emotions

Richard Ramchurn’s new film uses Artificial Intelligence to “adapt the story to fit the viewer’s emotional response.”

before we disappear film set
Image: The Conversation

The entertainment industry has been chasing the dragon of truly immersive, fully-interactive viewing experiences ever since 1895.

This quest began when a theater full of post-Victorian folks had their first run-in with the Lumières famous train.

The first jump scare.

While we’ve had 4DX Cinema, Virtual Reality, and Choose-Your-Own-Adventure media for a while now. And up until now, no one has created a film that creates a unique viewing experience for every single person who watches.

That’s where Richard Ramchurn’s new film Before We Disappear, comes in.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

In an essay for The Conversation, Ramchurn outlines the tech behind the film, which he says is “about a pair of climate activists who seek revenge on corporate perpetrators of global warming.”

Before We Disappear – AlbinoMosquito Productions Ltd

Eschewing traditional linear narratives, the director and his team at AlbinoMosquito Productions created a way to use the viewer’s facial expressions as triggers to choose specific storytelling paths.

What makes my film different is that it adapts the story to fit the viewer’s emotional response. Through the use of a computer camera and software, the film effectively watches the audience as they view footage of climate disasters. Viewers are implicitly asked to choose a side.

While Ramchurn and his team have released “brain-controlled” films in the past, this is their first foray into using artificial intelligence and imaging to impact the viewers’ experience.

Working with BLUESKEYE AI, they created an interface that scans the viewer’s face as they watch Before We Disappear.

An AI model trained on thousands of clips of people emoting and reacting to various video content helps determine the real-time edit.

The future of entertainment?

While platforms and media companies are constantly seeking more and more specificity, this is one of the first times we’ve seen a piece of art that adapts itself to match the viewer’s experience.

Before We Disappear seems to be a great step forward in creating immersive entertainment.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this sort of application of artificial intelligence has in Hollywood going forward.

We’re not quite ready for a film to scan our face as we watch, but maybe it’s just that we saw A Clockwork Orange too many times.

 woman in chair having eyes held open. it's a scene from a movie

Would you watch a movie that edits itself based on your emotions? Let us know in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Roger Feeley-Lussier is a recovering Social Media Expert who lives in Central Massachusetts.

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