With the ongoing explosive growth of online video, it’s no surprise that a good number of Israel’s startup are focusing on the area. One of the more impressive is Interlude, based in Tel Aviv.
The company was started by Israeli musician Yoni Bloch, who wanted to make online video truly interactive. Bloch and his bandmates are self-professed nerds with a keen interest in technology. As his bass player and company co-founder Tal Zubalsky puts it, “We’re not a sex and drugs band, we’re more of a computer and internet band.”
The idea behind Interlude is extraordinarily simple, but really well done. It’s a set of tools that allow content creators to make truly interactive videos. Creators can insert “choice points” into a video that the viewer then clicks on. Depending on the choice, the video branches off into a different direction and/or ending.
This sort of interactivity has been around since at least the advent of CD-ROMs, but the difference now is how seamless the videos are. There’s never a break in the action or audio, which is impressive.
Bloch’s video for his song Pretend to be Happy, for example, has five choice points – one of which asks viewers to choose between an acoustic or electric solo – that can result in a total of 256 different combinations. Each transition, whether it’s video or audio, flows smoothly into the next. Check it out by clicking here. The number of choice points and branches depends entirely on how much effort the creator wants to put into the video.
For the viewer, it’s essentially a choose-your-own-adventure kind of video that encourages repeated viewings and choices. In an era where it’s getting increasingly harder to attract and retain eyeballs, the potential of such a tool for artists and companies alike is easy to see. And of course, after a user watches his or her creation, it can then be shared on Facebook, Twitter and so on.
Indeed, the likes of Universal Studios, Microsoft, Old Navy and Nokia have used the technology to create their own videos. Zubalsky says Interlude is in talks with a Hollywood director to use the technology for a theatrical horror movie, although he and Bloch are not yet sure if that’s the route they want to go.
The concept sounded really cool to me, but I couldn’t help but wonder whether this sort of thing could turn out to be a passing fad. Like 3D or the 360-degree Matrix effect before it, Interlude might be big for a few years, then forgotten as people move on to the next inevitable video novelty.
That’s actually when things might get even more interesting. Zubalsky says the Interlude technology could transition from a platform that big corporations are paying to use into a downloadable app for every-day people. Once the masses got hold of this technology, the truly new and alternative storytelling method that Bloch originally hoped for could become a reality. Interlude, meanwhile, could also still make money on selling the app. I’d certainly pay a few bucks for it.