Parallel Threat - Featured at SIGGRAPH2005

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Problem

The interactivity present in DVD video today is quite restrictive. In most situations, the purpose of a DVD video project is to tell a linear story where continual input from an outside source is not needed.

For this reason, interactive development has been quite limited. Our goal is to produce a DVD interface that provides users with interactivity beyond the restrictions of current DVD authoring techniques.

Overview

Parallel Threat is an interactive story that expands upon traditional linear narrative, with three linear timelines proceeding simultaneously. As actions occur in each of the videos, the audience may choose which of the three events they would like to view at any time. Therefore, there are always two video tracks that continually run unwitnessed.

At the end of the story, the viewer has a partial record of the full story, through the viewpoints chosen. By returning to the beginning of the timeline, one can re-experience the same story through different views that were not chosen the first time. This process can be repeated as desired until we gain an understanding of the events in all three character viewpoints.

The Process

The first step, and cornerstone, of this project is to produce a working script for three simultaneous storylines that continually overlap and cross paths. The timing of the events is obviously the key element.

Next, a model needs to be created to validate that the project is possible. The program chosen for DVD authoring was DVD Studio Pro. It was within this program that additional scripting was developed to enable real-time switching of both audio and video among the three simultaneous tracks.

Filming the video soon follows. Final times for each section of the movie were set since each piece fits intricately into the entire project. XL1 camera equipment was used to film the video. Post production editing and effects were completed in Final Cut Pro. Each scene that runs parallel to one another are edited to the same time length down to the frame. This is essential when importing the video files into DVD Studio Pro. Music elements for the production were composed by Greg Zappile. After the editing process, the music for each scene was synchronized across the three audio tracks so a smooth transition was achieved whenever the view was changed.

Future Development

Due to the dynamic nature of viewing the story, there will never be two experiences alike. It is this factor which makes this form of DVD interactivity unique. Storytelling is only one use for this DVD architecture. Now that a skeleton model has been created with additional scripting structures for dynamic viewing, many other projects ideas can be applied.

Images and other media eventually.