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Interactive Video for documentaries

22 / May / 2012

Discovery Channel released a few months ago 4 examples  of interactive video developed by Videoclix. (Open link in a new window if the other link does not fit as expected).

The four examples show 2 to 3-minute videos on four different topics: parkour, paintball, parasailing and sharks. All of them show an initial screen telling that the video is clickable.

Besides, a button appears at the top of the video in order to provide access to all the elements that have been declared as interactive on the video. It seems that those 4 videos are part of a pilot project to see how it works and to measure the users’ response to this kind of audiovisual experience.

At the time of writing this lines, the interactive part of the video does not work at the Discovery webpage (perhaps because they have not renewed the initial agreement for the pilot episodes), but let’s do a little analysis of what works and what does not in this implementation of interactivity on documentaries.

Before going to the point, we want to show our deepest respect and admiration to our competitors at Videoclix, which are pioneers in the world of interactive video. As we did, they had to leave apart the interactive video products during a few years, as the market was not ready yet.

Video interactivo de Discovery paracaidismo

As it concerns to this Discovery example, we can see a couple of things that can be used to deliver a careful experience and impact the user further than what you get with regular video.

1. – Duration of the video : The 2 to 3 minutes duration is ideal for this kind of experience and to measure the viewers response. Videoclix, like Vidactio, has a tracking system and records usage statistics to know how the user interacts with the video.

2. – Type of video : Some of the videos selected (mainly the parkour example) are not adequate to implement clickable elements, as the characters move fast accross the screen. It might be more appropriate to implement other types of interactivity that do not require clicking on the video and chease the characters who run on it.

3. – Relevance of the interactions : An essential point when creating video interactivity is the relevance of interactive features and additional information that will be displayed. In this case, the video showed related items but they were not well integrated into the story.

When defining the interactions, we have to think of what users expect when they click on a plane or a parachute or a shark. If I click on the shadow of an airplane, I do not expect an explanation on the maximum acceleration experienced by a skydiver, but on the aircraft itself: the licence needed to pilot that planes, how much the plane costs, the manufacturer, its characteristics, other documentaries on planes…

What is clear is that we can see more and more interactive video experiences and they are increasingly refined. The same as web pages in 1996 were not the same as in 2012, interactive video is just born.

The difference is that now the speed interfaces change is much higher than it was ten years ago. On the other hand, the knowledge of how users react (using neuromarketing, eye-tracking, focus groups, different versions ….) is more accurate and we can provide successful user experiences. And profitable for the producer.

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