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APP suspense film incorporates a second screen – the viewer's smartphone

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March 19, 2013

IRIS is a digital personal assistant with an attitude, in the film APP

IRIS is a digital personal assistant with an attitude, in the film APP

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Notable exceptions aside, it’s generally agreed upon that it’s improper to check one’s smartphone while watching a movie in a theater. The new Dutch thriller APP, however, encourages viewers to do so. The film’s soundtrack contains a digital audio “watermark” – inaudible to human hearing – that causes exclusive supplemental content to appear on smartphones running the APP app.

Directed by Bobby Boermans, the film centers around a young psychology student named Anna. The morning after a wild party, she awakens to find an app called IRIS (try spelling that backwards) installed on her phone. The all-knowing IRIS seems pretty helpful at first, but gradually turns nasty, sending compromising text messages, videos and photos to people on Anna’s contacts list. Mayhem ensues when she tries to rectify the situation.

Anna discovers that IRIS has been installed on her phone

The real-life APP app allows viewers to see the trouble-making messages, etc. on their own phones, as the characters receive them in the movie. It also provides access to additional scenes, and background information regarding what’s currently taking place on screen. The film reportedly still makes sense without that “second screen” content, however.

According to a report in Variety, the watermarking technology is modeled on Civolution’s SyncNow system, and utilizes the same Automatic Content Recognition technology used by the Soundhound and Shazam apps. It should also work with DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film, and will be unaffected by alternate-language soundtracks.

APP opens in The Netherlands on April 4th, and has been picked up by the UK’s High Point Media Group for wider distribution. The app is available for free in android and iOS versions, via the App Store and Google Play. The trailer for the film can be seen below.

Needless to say, this is far from the first interactive movie ever made. It’s actually a little reminiscent of the Odorama system used by director John Waters in a special version of his 1981 cult film Polyester – audience members were given scratch-and-sniff cards each containing ten numbered spots, and were then prompted to smell those spots when the corresponding numbers flashed on the screen.

More recently, Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Nitzan Ben Shaul created the made-for-tablets movie Turbulence, in which viewers decide the course of the storyline via touchscreen controls.

Source: 2CFILM (Dutch), APP movie site (Dutch), High Point Media Group via Variety

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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1 Comment

interesting idea for a film, i would be interested in seeing it. Would be interesting to see how disruptive the APP is

Calum Mchaffie
20th March, 2013 @ 08:27 pm PDT
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