Nudge Theory: interview to the broders

the authors tell the genesis of the FIRST INTERACTIVE MUSICAL SHOW!

 

After the premiere last 11 May at the Circolo ARCI Bellezza in Milan, Brodo Studio authors Cristiano Perricone and Corrado Roccazzella talk about the new format ‘Nudge Theory: Interactive Music Video’, with all its features, potential and background. Read the interview now!

You will all remember when, a few years ago, a very peculiar episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror was released, entitled Bandersnatch, which immediately went viral. What was the special feature? Basically, it was an interactive film in which viewers were asked to make choices instead of the protagonist Stefan Butler, a young programmer. Bandersnatch, as well as Nudge Theory, were written following the branching narrative technique, which does not foresee a traditional unfolding of the plot, but rather foresees several possible developments depending on the choices the player makes.

But we don’t want to anticipate too much! We now give the floor to the creators of the format: Cristiano Perricone, creative director, director and co-author of the format, and Corrado Roccazzella, account and producer.

Buongiorno broders! Non vediamo davvero l’ora di scoprire tutti i segreti di Nudge Theory! Partiamo subito dalle basi: perché il nome Nudge Theory?

Cristiano: I’ll break the ice! The title Nudge Theory refers to the essay “Nudge – The Gentle Push” written by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, which deals with new behavioural theories based on an active approach to the architecture of choices, which occurs through a ‘nudge’, in other words, a suggestion. 

Interesting! However, I now issue you a challenge: explain to us in a few points what Nudge Theory consists of.

CorradoWe can explain Nudge Theory by touching on four essential points, the ‘fantastic four’, which are:

  • RE-PLAY: Nudge Theory is an interactive video that we can ‘play’ and ‘re-play’ over and over again, constructing ever-changing experiences.
  • SEAMLESS: In Nudge Theory, there is no interruption, the requests, the invitations to intervene do not lose the taste for enjoyment and do not interrupt the flow of artistic performance.
  • CRE-ACTIVITY: each element of Nudge Theory is creatively constructed and interaction-driven.
  • DIGITAL: Last but not least. Nudge Theory is a digital object that connects to all possible platforms and tools: Social, VOD platforms, Smart TV, E-commerce, CRM, Sites, Analytics, etc. This obviously also makes it a valuable ally of any web marketing strategy.

I would say that now we are all curious to know how the idea of the format was born: can you explain it to us Cristiano?

CristianoWith pleasure. Well, certainly in part it stems from personal experience both educational and professional related to the world of show business and directing. Over the years, I have had the good fortune to train and work with illustrious personalities from the world of show business, who have been great sources of inspiration for me: from the master set designer Gaetano Castelli (Studio ’80, Fantastico, Sanremo), to the director Ruggero Montingelli (co-creator of Videomusic) and Mario Maffucci, who knows a thing or two about TV shows! Music has always been a part of my work as an author and director, from my first show Romusik for the local broadcaster RomaUno to my experiences with MTV (I remember the experimentation with FLUX-TV that led me to direct the Casino Royale videoclip) via the editing of BowLand’s performance (shot by Uolli) for the X-Factor final. More recently, then, with Brodo Studio we created the Udinì video-concert format, which brings the live performance into ‘other’ contexts, alien to music, such as factories, craft workshops, museums. I must say, however, that the real push that gave birth to Nudge Theory was certainly the desire to experiment and deepen the technique of narrative branching, and the ambition to push the concept of the music show (and not only) to another level.

We can therefore say that Nudge Theory was born out of a Nudge! But now let’s talk about the pilot episode! Cristiano, about this first episode, can you tell us about the conception and the work behind the transposition of music and song lyrics into images?

CristianoIt is a complex work, which began immediately with a discussion with the artist Ulisse Schiavo, and then continued through a careful collection of materials, listening to the pieces and transposition. 

The creative process is reminiscent of contemporary opera, where the visual aspect is transposed by elaborating the text in all its variations, score and libretto, and where more often than not it is the emotion conveyed by the music that guides the pencil of a set designer or visual designer. In our format, we want to recover this process by using certain languages of contemporary art, such as video art or installation art. 

In this first episode, some of the interpretations you can see are true homages to some contemporary visual artists, as in the case of Pipilotti in Have you ever shout loud? and Marinella Pirelli for Valido and Alone. While for other situations we created the sets from a blank sheet of paper, as for Precious Silver Grace or Sale. In fact, each episode is designed to become a ‘musical concept-film’ as close as possible to the imagery expressed by the artist, our task being to visually enhance his music.

Watching the show, one of the things that stands out the most is the uniqueness of the space, the Emotion Hall at the Tiare in Gorizia, with huge projections and video walls. How did this choice come about?

CorradoI would like to take this opportunity to thank TIARE for making the Emotion Hall space available to us. When we started writing the concept, which later became the paper format of the show, we realised that we needed a very large space, which was visually powerful and which allowed us to play creatively with the sets. Of course, these are all circumstances that would scare anyone involved in the production (sets, huge spaces, technology). So we started looking for a location with certain characteristics that would allow the realisation of 360-degree projections and that would allow us to switch from a night-time sea setting to a colourful, psychedelic one in real time: and so we chose the Emotion Hall. From a production point of view, this type of solution, similar to the Virtual Set, offers great advantages in terms of timing, especially for a product like this: you can create entire worlds, without having to move!

Let us now turn to a question on a more narrative aspect. Cristiano, what does it mean to write such a format? 

Writing a television format, in itself, is very technical and complex writing; in the case of interactive video, the degree of difficulty increases considerably. There are many aspects to take into account related mainly to audience involvement. Remember that the viewers are called upon to make choices that will determine the course of the show. This means that the author must write, and provide for, many more dynamics, insert such as including engaging Plots in each branch of the story and making the decision-making moment, i.e., the Pivot Point, interesting and at the same time “invisible.” A music show works no differently from fiction, indeed immersion in the story-concert establishes an even more intense relationship with the viewer, the viewer must remain literally “immersed” in the flow of the story, the interaction then must not be a distraction but a part of the story. This is the difficulty; we hope we have succeeded.

What are the ways in which the audience can interact with the video performance? In what ways does it become a “protagonist”? 

 

Cristiano: There are 4 modes of intervention in branching writing and directing and more generally in all creative phases; each of these, which I will now outline, holds multiple application possibilities for engaging the viewer and insert activations. In the diagram above, we have represented the dynamics of choice in a way that highlights the mechanisms and behaviors that these can trigger in diametrically opposite ways within the narrative and the show:  

  • DIALOGUE to be understood in all its narrative and dramaturgical forms (diegetic, intradiegetic, extradiegetic, etc.); it can take place, for example, between the protagonists of the video or it can be addressed directly to the audience.
  • POINTS OF VIEW we can make the viewer move in space and time, follow a character or use the multicam technique. More purely artistic aspects come into play here, related to editing choices, for example.
  • ACTIONS we ask the spectator to do, always in a non-invasive (seamless) way; they affect the order, duration and frequency of the narrative time.
  • EXPLORATION: the more ‘digital’ part made possible by the presence of menus, clickable areas, signs, access doors to other content. A model borrowed from gaming that enriches and extends the enjoyment of film content with new features.

The idea behind it is to be able to alter a story or retrace a live show by making new choices to discover new songs, is there a definite pattern? Is there a way to apply this genre elsewhere?

CorradoOf course! Nudge Theory is a true television format, with its own rules and ‘ritual’ moments. The narrative scheme that we have refined is, for example, designed to maintain a constant level of attention between the viewer and the show, in which decision-making moments are distributed with a cadence that almost never exceeds 4 min. In this way, we managed to mediate between the need to stimulate and activate the audience without ‘stressing’ them beyond repair.  Then there is the issue of duration and the extension of the life cycle of an audiovisual product: to see all the narrative lines takes more than 90 min, while the linear time is just over 20. If we think about the applicative possibilities of this method of writing, it is clear how much it is possible to ‘amplify content’ even with a short-lived product, as social or ADV often require us to do.

Now let’s talk a little bit about technology and some technical aspects related to this interactive video, what you can do digitally with this format. So Cristiano I ask you, what are the main features of the technology you used?

CristianoHere we get into the nerdier part but which will certainly also interest marketing departments. The potentialities of an interactive video are indeed many and also strongly involve the commercial aspect, think of brand activation for instance. But that’s not all, new scenes can be integrated at any time, without having to re-export or modify links, lengthening the duration and enjoyability of the content. This potentially means building ad hoc marketing strategies or integrating new ones into existing editorial plans. Thanks to Cross Platform mode, with the same native javascript, the video is compatible with all OTT and VOD platforms, SMART TV, mobile devices, desktops, consoles on the market. So one project for all possible applications.

Corrado: Another important aspect is that this type of content allows us to monitor the audience’s choices and preferences: from the most clicked story lines, to the most listened to songs, overall viewing durations, device types and much more. It behaves purely as an analytics tool and also acts as a CRM. The video thus becomes a sales channel where you can insert clickable areas and make an item purchasable with ‘ADD TO CHART’ buttons, or you can collect scores by playing the video and ‘turn’ these credits into vouchers or promotions or insert other KPI’s. Even the design of a strategy becomes much more creative!

Nudge Theory, besides being an entertainment format, clearly has great potential both for the dissemination and promotion of artistic content, such as the launch of an album, and as a content marketing tool that can be adapted to a special project: in particular, can you briefly tell us about it?

CorradoWith this new format, Brodo Studio is open both to the possibility of producing a complete first season of Nudge Theory, with different artists for each episode, and to further develop the technology, in order to build a variety of storytelling, oriented towards both the promotion of artistic and commercial products.

what will your show be like? You just have to experiment! Have fun with Nudge Theory!

do you want to be part of the show? contact us!