Co-authored by: Gopikrishnan Balasubramanian
What is Hypervideo?
Hypervideo is just that - for the hyperactive millennial generation, who cannot wait to consume information. In other words, it is clickable video. As hypertext allows you to navigate different pages by embedding links, hypervideo, a form of hypermedia, enables you to navigate through multiple videos or access web pages if required.
The concept has been in the R&D stages for quite a while now and a niche industry is dabbling with advertising through hypervideo. Today, product placements are subtle advertisements which a viewer has to remember and look for, later.
In the realm of hypervideo, a viewer would be able to get information right when he is watching a video by clicking on a product embedded as a part of the scene. The implications can be far reaching, right from educative videos to TV Series for non-linear storytelling or even the movie industry tying up with the tourism industry.
Technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3 are enabling developers to create more and more hypervideo content. However, the media players need to allow the user to click on videos and navigate.
Let’s take a quick look at how it can be done, before moving to the more exciting application possibilities of hypervideo.
According to Carmen Zahn and Michon B, some of the early researchers of hypermedia, the links to other media can be only designed with respect to the medium itself and its very own properties and it is relevant to interactive elements that overlay the film such as hotspots or regions which act as a prompt for user interaction.
The prompt for the user should be as least intrusive as possible to ensure that the viewing experience is not compromised. It can be an outline or a transparent shape or a blinking dot or even a circle. These are referred to as hotspots that provide a visual cue. Another very simple non-intrusive prompting mechanism according to hypermedia researchers would be a slight increase in brightness of the screen indicating that hyperlinked video frames are being played.
A mouse click in case of a PC-based interface, a touch in case of handheld devices or a remote key press or even voice command using a remote, can be actions performed by the viewer to switch to the hyperlinked video or page or perform any action for that matter. Sometimes, it need not be a new video or a page altogether. Instead, the screen may be divided with the video occupying a part of the screen and some information occupying the other portion.
One’s creativity is the limit for the application possibilities of hypervideo. While clickable advertisements and product placements can be easily termed as having the most revenue generating potential, there are other applications which may be of huge interest to the millennial generation which is estimated to consume video content at a rate that was never seen before.
‘Open hypervideo project’ expects non-linear storytelling, documentary access, and exploratory searches to be compelling use-cases for hypervideo.
Let’s take a brief look at what these are and what hypervideo technology leader Wirewax has implemented, to understand the state-of-the-art technology and its potential.
- Non-Linear Storytelling
Traditionally, non-linear storytelling or non-linear narrative is where the sequence of events do not follow the chronological order in the story. However, in the context of hypervideo, it can be interpreted as a mechanism that allows users to choose the sequence in which they would like to follow a story line. For instance, a particular scene, say scene ‘A’ may display a prompt to the viewer to choose the next sequence of the story line he/she would like to watch or continue in the default fashion. It may also allow multiple endings to a story as seen in interactive games.
This is also referred to as Branching Videos by Wirewax. Decision points are provided for the viewer to choose the path or outcome.
Recently Netflix has created an interactive show called “Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale”, that allows kids (the target audience for the show) to choose their storyline with as many as thirteen ‘A’ or ‘B’ choices to choose with two possible endings. A form of personalization, probably in its nascent stages!
Analysts at CNET say, with nonlinear storytelling, fast-forward or rewind don't make much sense anymore, so Netflix decided to let viewers jump back and forth between the branch points in the story, like chapter marking, similar to video bookmarking available in some STBs.
- Documentary Access & Exploratory Searches
Accessing documentary media would be a breeze by allowing seamless switching between different media. For example, if an educational video is being played, links can be provided to other web-pages or videos that may contain more details about any item/person in the video.
A recent product allows the user to click on a slider on the screen to pause and view details of the characters of a movie as well as watch some behind the scene clips. The product also demonstrates how a viewer can switch to watching from different camera angles which would be very useful during the telecast of sports events. While this has been done for a movie, it can similarly be done for educational videos wherein a student can get instant access to more in-depth information about something in the video.
Well, this is where the highest potential for Interactive TV lies, at least, to begin with.
How many times have you wondered about the location at which a movie was shot? Some of us would have tried to search the internet and even fewer would have actually visited the place. As a viewer, I usually forget all about the place by the time the movie is over. Someone also loses a potential customer at the same time! With the incredible number of distractions today in the form of social media and such, it’s important to hold the viewer’s attention. The same goes for any other product that’s a part of a video - right from a watch to a vehicle. This is where clickable videos will help.
Wirewax has made a number of videos for large organizations such as Disney, BBC, Nike, Peugeot, among others, wherein the user is prompted to click ‘hot-spots’ on the video to know more about a product. Here are examples from Wirewax: https://www.wirewax.com/examples/
The TME BU team in HCL also has a prototype that allows users to touch the screen of a smartphone or tablet when a product they like appears in the video. The viewer can later browse through the products which were on-screen at the time of the touch.
Tagging videos with products with appropriate links to web-pages or another video would give the viewer instant access to more information thereby translating into a purchase or a trial.
Video tags, which identify whether a human or an object or an animal is in the frame, can be done for the entire length of the video using an AI tool. Multiple commercial tools are available today!
However, while tagging of videos can be done using AI tools such as Clarifai, Google Vision or Valossa, tying up the tags to specific brands of products will need manual efforts in terms of business tie-ups with the product manufacturers or marketing agencies or sometimes even government agencies, in case the goal is to sell a holiday destination or a government scheme. A revenue sharing model also needs to be worked out.
While Interactive videos can be achieved more easily in handhelds, it would take some time for manufacturers of set top boxes or OTT streaming devices to embrace the technology and come up with an easy interaction mechanism. But with the arrival of voice controlled remote controls, such as the ones from Comcast which connect via RF4CE, that problem can be addressed too.
Spanish filmmaker Luca Maximilian Caputo says, we as viewers, want to participate and need to get a feeling of involvement. Otherwise we get bored.
Studies by Wirewax show that there is a 67% interaction rate proving that audiences will interact, if given the option. They also state that Interactive videos lead to 2x longer engagement time when compared to the same video without interactive capability.
The millennials are also an ‘instant generation’ and it’s a challenge to have their attention. Unless their needs are creatively addressed, traditional models of video consumption or advertising may not be as engaging and effective as they once used to be.
Organizations MUST embrace technology such as hypermedia and transition accordingly if they want the customers to continue to embrace them! J
- Open Hyper Video Project by Joscha Jäger http://www.open-hypervideo.org
- Zahn, C. (2003). Wissenskommunikation mit Hypervideos. Münster: Waxmann Verlag
- Michon, B. (1993). Hotspots. In M.E. Hodges & R.M. Sasnett (ed.) Multimedia Computing. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. 219-227.