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Upian pairs with French SNCF for a docu-fiction

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“Cote fenetre, cote couloir” Upian’s new webdocumentary (online since the 8th of September) is a co-production with French train national service, the SNCF. This is a strange mixture between documentary (it explains what happens during a train journey and how many people need to work to make it an efficient service) and fiction (you can follow the story of two young girls that are on board of the train). Effectively it is what is normally called a docu-fiction. Its form is very simple: two windows, on one you follow the point of view of the two girls and on the other one you follow the logistics  point of view of SNCF.

cote fenetre

If the script is at time quite cheese (but I suspect the audience are young travelers – which by itself is not an excuse because who said that they need soap opera lines!) what I think is interesting in this form is the use of sound to give prominence to one of the two videos, and the exploitation of points of view. Effectively the interface that is used in “Cote fenetre, cote couloir” is a simplification of Figgis’ movie Time Code.

time code

If you remember Figgis did split the screen in four narratives which were playing at the same time – but only one sound track was dominant, allowing you to follow it properly while your brain was also following the other three plots from the side of your vision spectrum. Figgis also had an interactive version of Time Code, that he was performing at festivals, where he was doing the mixing of the narrative strands live, deciding each time which narrative would be dominant at each point and effectively constantly switching points of view.

What Upian has done is to go from four to two strands, but the clever part is to give direct control to the audience. A simple but effective logic: switch point of view when you like it by simply clicking on the video… Try it, it works quite smoothly. I am maybe not fascinated by the SNCF as a topic, but I think that this simple structure could well be used in lots of double sided situation: the justice system (barrister versus incriminated), school life ( teacher versus pupil),  daily life (parents versus kids), politics (dictator versus normal people) etc….

What seems at the moment as a compromise between interactive fiction, interactive documentary and interactive corporate marketing could well be exploited in activists i-docs, or in lots of other fields!

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This entry was posted on Monday, September 19th, 2011

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