By Mary Word
The third part of David’s talk discussed branching choices. User control. The user wants to see what is there, and is in control of how to get there. David showed us several examples, two of which I will share.
One scenario shows a man at his desk in the office, almost finished with an email that had to be sent out within a few minutes in order to get a big commission. The fire alarm rings and an announcement instructs all personnel to evacuate. The video stops and choices are put up on the screen to determine what he will do—evacuate as instructed, wait to finish his email? At this and succeeding branch points, you make a choice and another section of video shows the results of that choice. Oops! The hall is on fire and you can’t get out. I guess you should not have waited to send that email after all. Branching choices allow for multiple scenarios to explore and find the way to the best solution.
For a really stellar example of branching video, check out the lan McKellan video interview. It has a very creative use of video and clips, with branching choices.
It is done in an effective interactive way. Part of this is planning. The structure has to be designed and scripted to make all the parts work. The introductory sequence shows the actor encouraging you to choose a question. If no choice is made in a few seconds he says come on, don’t just sit there, this isn’t TV. Choose a question, please. Then there is a short repeating loop. After a few more seconds he says oh, come on, it isn’t that hard to make a choice, is it? After this second interaction the loop gets very small, indicating that any further action is up to you. It pulls you in very nicely.
If you choose to use video in your projects, don’t just throw in something without considering how you can make it truly engaging. Video can interact with your user and go beyond a passive element on the page. Think about these examples and see how far your imagination can take you.