Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Directions

"Will it fit?" and other pertinent questions.

Recently, I have alluded to other, non-film projects upon which I have been working.  One project, Saintify, is nearing completion.  It is an iOS app upon which a small team has been has been working for the past year or so, on the side.  It's been an interesting experience for me, juggling technical, creative and producing duties in a completely new medium and on a low budget.  At times, the gear shifting almost was too much: from good old-fashioned issues like creating focused, quality visual imagery and written content on a budget to trying to figure out whether code existed that could make a screen do something cool without breaking the screens around it (thank you, Stackoverflow.com), to trying to figure out how to create pixel level wireframes representing every screen, and every interaction, in Omnigraffle.

Pixel perfect

Some of this work has been directly pertinent to my other media work. Most importantly, the idea of thinking more fully about user experience has helped focus my brain on media creation moving ahead. Visualizing, and planning, how the audience is going to interact with what you create, from beginning to end, and maximizing that experience, is not a part of the creative process which can be glossed over any longer.  On one level, this isn't entirely new.  Great filmmakers already plot their films out carefully, weeding out scenes, lines, words, that don't enhance the audience's experience of the project.  However, now that process has been put on steroids, as audience expectations of what an entertainment experience should be have become more and more complicated.

The audience wants, expects, to actively participate in the process, even if it is just to complain loudly and publicly.  Whether it's an interactive device, crowd-funding projects by their pet director or guiding the conversation about the project in social media, today's audience is no longer just an audience.  They are participants, partners.  Personally, I think it's great.  Anything that focuses creative minds to think more fully about what they're trying to create, and to whom they are trying to communicate is just fine with me.

Sometimes the questions raised are profoundly creative, like finding simple hacks to create a beautiful new experience, and sometimes they're as simple as "will it display correctly on all 7 devices?"  But they are all important.   For some people, I know this is already old hat.  Thankfully, many of those people are generous and share their knowledge online, or in reasonably priced books.  For many of us, it is going to be a matter of survival to learn how to engage our audiences more thoughtfully and to anticipate needs that they haven't even considered.  And integrate it into great stories.  The era of disruption is far from over.  May we all live in interesting times.

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