Netflix: How the Interactive Episode of Black Mirror & # 39; works – News Technology – Technology

adminDecember 28, 2018

Black Mirror became black mirror by fearlessly exploring the dark side of technology: tyranny of social networks, government surveillance capacity, absorbent nature of video game … With memorable exceptions – with you San Junipero, His swing tends to go more towards the tragic than towards the hopeful. Showing an episode is a test, a challenge that the viewer intentionally assumes when the PLAY button is pressed.

It is therefore appropriate that Netflix has chosen this series as its first interactive live action product. In Bandersnatch, which is available since December 28 in the 190 countries covered by the streaming platform, the user decides how the action progresses when making decisions about what the protagonist does. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to tell anyone about the chapter, because decisions – which are basically trivial, but which are originally literally, life or death – create different lines, ensuring Netflix millions of permutations.

EL TIEMPO traveled to Los Gatos, California, to see the product one month before its launch. Although it was presented in the same cinema where we saw Sense8 or Jessica Jones at that time, this time, the big screen was never stopped showing the broken mirror logo, and each person got a conditional iPad for experience; 90 minutes later it was clear that not all of us had seen the same story.

Behind black mirrors, the genius of Charlie Brooker, whose relationship with technology works, at times, is plotted by one of his stories. The creator of this series is someone who has not omitted that the world around them is a computer simulation designed to confuse him.

Brooker acknowledges that even though he was initially not enthusiastic about the idea of ​​doing something that could stand alone in the use of technology to release, it was not long before he had a story he asked for – in fact he said he demanded – use of interactivity. Going from idea to reality, however, is to travel an awful path.

Brooker remembers: "It has been a challenge from the beginning. I had to learn a programming language just to write the skeleton of history. So there were signs from the beginning that this would be more technologically challenging than other things we've done. And there are things you need to think about, because although it is true that the conventions of normal storytelling go out of the window, there are technical limitations along the way. You have to adapt. But it has been fascinating ".

The other half of Black Mirror is Annabel Jones, producer of the series. She, whose role is sometimes to clear the demons of Brooker's mindset, and at times release them, confirms that the creative challenge in this case would not be overwhelmed by the opportunities.

"In the beginning you see the possibilities of ramifications: many opportunities, many stories, many scenes where you can get involved. But you quickly realize that if you follow them all, you end up with many crazy endings that do not feel they belong to the same universe. So, even though this platform gives you tremendous narrative potential, you need to have the ability to limit them, to be true to your character, to maintain a coherent world, he says.

It was complicated. When you do that
Something nobody has done before is complicated. It's like building
plane while flying. He felt like this at times

Netflix … & # 39; and select & # 39;

Writing the story is one thing, but getting it to work is another. This challenge was left to Carla Engelbrecht, director of innovation at Netflix.

The first challenge was to bring the audience to a new experience that for some requires a learning phase. For this reason, before experiencing the Bandersnatch, users face a very short training.

The next thing is to make sure that regardless of your choices, if you see it on a cell phone or on a television, or if the internet is less than optimal, reproduction should be fluid and the cuts are almost imperceptible. Buffering is the enemy, says Engelbrecht.

add: "When you do something nobody has done before, it's complicated. It's like building the plane while you're flying. He sometimes felt at times. (…) It's hard to make it work on so many units, and you have to solve questions like: how do you get back ?, how are you going? ".

"You are not in control"

But of course there would be no black mirror if it did not undermine people's expectations. Far from just playing with the tool, Brooker and Jones, along with director David Slade, were recognized by the black and white nightmare that is Metalhead, given the task of using interactivity as a peek at reality and illusion. of control.

"It's truculent," says Brooker. Because, when writing a script, your characters are, of course, defined by what they do. And in this you enter, you have to give control to the viewer, player or whatever you want to call it"A Netflix leader tells him, graciously:" Viewer, there's no game here. "With a smile, Brooker gives:" Human. To man. "

Jones explains it this way: "The interface, more than one barrier, is a tool. You realize you have to make a decision and then the sound gets excited, you feel the pressure and you feel like you're the protagonist."

The characters are defined by
what they do though
you give in, you have to give in,
Check the viewer, player or whatever you want to call it

The viewer must do his job

The technical challenge of making Bandersnatch is not seen at first glance. Netflix had already experimented with interactive episodes of El gato con botas or Minecraft, two animated series aimed at the children's audience, but this is a new level.
Under normal conditions, this episode lasts about 90 minutes. However, it is estimated that the total scenes will add up to 312 minutes, or more than 5 hours in total.

Todd Yellin, director of product innovation at the company, explains that fortunately there is no need to download the total amount, and it is enough to be "one or two steps ahead of the user's decisions". On the question of how much larger the file is compared to a regular episode, he replies, "It's digital television, what's a regular episode?"

Bandersnatch is recorded in 4K and can be played on hundreds of devices, in 27 languages ​​in almost two hundred countries
. At the time of the interview, there were some who were missing, such as Apple TV, but eventually it will work in all those Netflix runs. The user may decide not to decide so that the deadline for the system should select a default path.

But it is not advisable. Slade, Brooker and Jones point out that they made this episode to make the experience less rewarding if the viewer does not do his job.


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