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Brief Published: 5 Jun 2018

Customised Storytelling Through Eye Tracking

The Angry River is a short online film that uses real-time eye tracking information to edit itself into a storyline that reflects the viewer's interest.

The project by American filmmaker Armen Perian runs along five different narrative arcs. To determine which storyline to follow, New York-based content studio Crossbeat developed eye tracking technology that uses viewers' webcams to see where their interest lingers on the film. A custom algorithm uses that information to arrange the five story perspectives into one seamless viewing experience that reflects the focus of individual viewers.

The result is a narrative with near-invisible interactivity. "Watching something is still making decisions, and what the viewer decides to pay attention to ultimately drives the action. It changes the movie they see," said Perian.

The Angry River's almost subconscious interaction format makes a compelling case for using branching narratives as a content customisation tool. The ability to adapt a story to individual viewers' real-time behaviour unlocks huge potential for intimate engagement moments.

For more on interactive formats and personalised content, check out State of Media: The Fan-First Revolution. To catch up on the use of contextual data in delivering messaging, see Third Spaces. To read more about branching narratives in gaming and TV, see our Pop Culture Round-Up: October 2017.