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New brain controlled film lets you live in the MOMENT

31 May 2018

A new brain controlled film, ‘The MOMENT’, picks up reactions from the viewer via an EEG headset and switches the storyline depending on their response.

Seize the MOMENT with launch of new brain controlled film (Credit: University of Nottingham)

This uniquely interactive film has been developed by University of Nottingham Computer Science PhD researcher and Creative Director Richard Ramchurn and is being officially launched at Sheffield Doc/Fest on the 7 June. From there it will tour the country in a specially adapted caravan that has been transformed into a mobile cinema.

An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a recording of brain activity. During the film viewers will wear small sensors attached to the scalp to pick up the electrical signals produced when brain cells send messages to each other. As people watch the film small drops in attention will alter the signals and trigger a change in the story the film shows. 

Responding to brain activity 

Richard says: “The MOMENT is an interactive film which is controlled via data from a EEG headset which picks up unconscious reactions and changes the narrative thread in response. The story explores three narrative threads in a dystopian future world in which brain-computer interfaces are both a source of social threat and potential revelation. As a piece of science fiction the film speaks about the present. Our relationship with each other via social media and the facilitation of rise of far right ideologies.” 

Multiple story combinations 

The MOMENT is different each time it is watched, as the media adapts to the viewers attention levels, when the system detects a drop in attention it will cut to another narrative thread. Each scene has a possible of six combinations, which means in over 18 scenes there are 101 trillion possible combinations for each viewing. 

Richard explains: “Where the viewer has a lot of variance in their attention the film will cut quickly between the primary and secondary narrative threads, if the viewer sees more of the primary thread the next scene will remain in the same combination, if however, they see more of the secondary thread the next scene will replace the primary thread with the unseen thread. 

The data from the viewings will form Richard’s PhD thesis, he says: “The intention of making this work now, is to study how people react to the trend of real-time personalisation. This platform will allow us to study interactions with a system that allows for passive interactivity, and how that can be used to produce narrative work, add value and encourage multiple viewings.  

From interrogating the practice of making The MOMENT we are able to explore what considerations and implications are implicit in the construction of an interactive brain controlled film. The film and interactive system builds on previous work carried out in 2016. We have made a film that both minimises narrative disruption from interactive behaviours and encourages comprehension by utilising familiar filmic storytelling techniques.” 

A trailer for The MOMENT can be viewed here.


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