‘Mind-reading’ headset allows viewers to change plot of new film

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A new brain-controlled film has been produced which picks up the reactions of the viewer and changes the story based on their response.

During the movie, called The Moment, viewers wear an electroencephalogram (EEG) headset.

With different versions of each scene having been filmed, there are potentially trillions of routes through the narrative, in which its characters fight for survival in a dystopian future.

The Moment is set in a dystopian future 'Mind-reading' headset allows viewers to change plot of new film ‘Mind-reading’ headset allows viewers to change plot of new film skynews movie headset the moment 4322371
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The Moment is set in a dystopian future

PhD researcher Richard Ramchurn, the film’s director, explained: “The headset reads really tiny electrical signals generated by the firing of neurons in your brain.

“From that we get attention data that gets sent via Bluetooth to a computer where I’ve built a multimedia system that will choose different narrative threads based on drops in attention.”

In a specially-adapted caravan at Nottingham University, student Charlie Grainger has watched two different versions of the film, controlled by his subconscious.

Director Richard Ramchurn 'Mind-reading' headset allows viewers to change plot of new film ‘Mind-reading’ headset allows viewers to change plot of new film skynews richard ramchurn film 4322372
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Director Richard Ramchurn

Charlie told Sky News he enjoyed having a say over where the story went.

He said: “You know when you watch a film and you kind of will the characters to do a certain thing? It doesn’t always end up that way, so maybe it’s nice to have more control of the film in that way.”

In 2013, Dutch film APP – also known as Android – encouraged audiences to use their phones while watching and in doing so claimed to have become “the first second screen film”.

The phones would show a parallel story via an app while people were viewing the film on the big screen.

Elsewhere, Fox is planning a movie based on the Choose Your Own Adventure book series, where viewers will be able to use an app to vote for what to see next.

The Dutch movie APP was the first 'second screen' film 'Mind-reading' headset allows viewers to change plot of new film ‘Mind-reading’ headset allows viewers to change plot of new film skynews app movie 4322369
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The Dutch movie APP was the first ‘second screen’ film

But Mr Ramchurn thinks he can take the idea of viewer agency much further, with only the ending of The Moment unable to be altered by the audience.

He said that would be “an artistic freedom too far”, but added: “I know the technology is not there yet, but in 10 to 15 years we might be creating our own content straight from our minds.”

Film critic Graham Young said the technology could allow filmmakers to be even more creative with their work.

He told Sky News: “I would hope it would give independent film makers a chance to really think on their feet and dare to be that more creative.

“I think what we’ve seen in Hollywood over the years is that producers are having the whip hand, they’re dictating what’s happening. Everyone is being funnelled into certain safe genres, we’re having all these sequels upon sequels and they’re afraid to take a risk.

“Something like this could open the door to genuine risk takers, and without risk takers there’s no future for anything.”



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