Google recently partnered up with Justin Lin (of Fast & Furious fame) to release a short film, “Help”, and is mobile exclusive. It needs to be mobile exclusive because the movie offers a 360 degree experience when watching it. If you haven’t watched it download the Google Spotlight Stories app on your phone now, then watch it.
“Help” is innovative, creative and all those other exciting words you would want to watch. However it isn’t the first in interactive videos. Honda’s clever ad “The Other Side” featured a real-time dual narrative which enhanced its message. However, “Help” goes beyond it by blending the viewability of a first-person video game with the excitement of a sci-fi film. Giving viewers control over not just what they watch but how they watch it is a revolution in filmmaking we should expect to see more of.
The Help narrative is your typical monster/alien invasion movie with a twist. But it’s that twist, giving us a reason why we should sympathize with the alien (he just wants his alien stick back), that instead of forcing us to see it through one of the panicked bystanders (see Cloverfield or Godzilla), it’s 360 view lets us see it through the alien’s viewpoint. It’s not a technological gimmick, but an enhancement which enriches it’s simple but captivating narrative.
But why would Google get involved with the development of a 360 view camera, just for a mobile-exclusive short film? For the same reason they would drive a car mounted with cameras on nearly every road in the world, just so you could show your friends where your high school was located. It’s just an exciting continuation of Google’s desire to experiment in creating better experiences for it’s users.
Google has always enjoyed experiments to increase user experience and with Google making mobile a priority for its search rankings, threatening search ranking penalties for sites not mobile-optimized, it can be said that Google Spotlight is just a continuation of this trend.
With Google Spotlight, it’s clear that Google is experimenting with mobile in every form it can, as well as creating new ways to delight its users. And Google Spotlight is entertaining. Consider it a new future of filmmaking by combining elements of videogames into film. There’s probably a name for combining video-games & films: vilms perhaps?