The Angry River: Interactive Film Tracks Eye Movement

Armen Perian earned himself a Cannes Young Director Award last year following the premier of his landmark interactive film The Angry River, which, astoundingly, tracks the eye movement of its viewer to trigger its branching narrative.

This is the second large scale, interactive film project that looks to put the interactive technology and controls out of sight in favor of giving an audience the illusion of a traditional viewing experience. Last year’s #WarGames released on EKO is the other.

“I wanted to make a film where the audience’s perception of the story was influenced by them—but I didn’t want to take the viewer out of it with clicks, motions, prompts or the like,” Perian said in a recent interview with Forbes.

“By using eye-tracking technology, the film determines which character you’re most interested in, then dynamically edits itself to align with that character’s point of view. Everything from plot to run-time, score and color shift to essentially transform the viewer into the unreliable narrator.”

The film’s branching narrative triggered by eye movement

The film, which is 20 minutes in length and stars Jim Beaver (Deadwood) and Brooke Smith (Bates Motel),  is about a family of human traffickers in Portland.

It was painstakingly developed on paper, then shot over the course of four days, then edited by Alex Hall (The WireTrue Detective) into five distinct narrative tracks. These tracks were then plugged into a custom-built algorithm that turned the separate perspectives into a seamless experience that looks and plays like a traditional movie.

Early pen-and-paper dev

The Angry River is currently available to watch/experience online for free.

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StoryFix Media produces interactive fiction games and novels. Our sci-fi text adventure The Pulse releases in 2019. Our novel New Horizons is available now.

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