HBO has released a new trailer for Mosaic, an ambitious project from Ocean’s Eleven and Traffic director Steven Soderbergh and former Universal chairman and CEO Casey Silver, along with writer Ed Solomon.
Mosaic is an interactive story in which you can make choices to follow the story from different perspectives. It’s both the name of an app, which launched this week and is where you can choose different paths, and also the name of a six-part limited series airing on HBO in January. The limited series will be Soderbergh’s version of the story, and people will be able to compare how their experiences with the app played out compared to Soderbergh’s version. The cast includes Sharon Stone, Garrett Hedlund, Frederick Weller, Beau Bridges, Paul Reubens, Jennifer Ferrin, Devin Ratray, Michael Cerveris, James Ransone, Jeremy Bobb, and Maya Kazan.
You can read the full details in the press release, and watch the trailer and a cast interview video below.
What is the future of storytelling? Oscar®- and Emmy®-winning filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s answer is unveiled today when the MOSAIC mobile app launches as a free download for iPhone®, iPad® and Apple TV®, with the free Android app coming soon. Presented by PodOp, a media technology company changing the way stories are crafted and experienced, and developed for HBO by Soderbergh and Casey Silver, in conjunction with writer Ed Solomon, the MOSAIC app is an interactive experience that could be the next step in storytelling.
The launch of the MOSAIC app comes at a time when consumers are looking for new forms of mobile-first entertainment, with eMarketer reporting this year that consumers now spend up to 20% of their media time on mobile apps, and that almost 85% of their smartphone time is spent in-app instead of on a traditional mobile web browser. MOSAIC aims to give this growing audience a mobile experience unlike any they’ve had before.
To accomplish this, Soderbergh and his partners at PodOp, a media technology company that, unlike other ventures of this type, is driven by narrative rather than technology, explored what happens when filmmakers ask engineers to serve the story, rather than the other way around. Three years in the making, this first full-length production, developed in association with HBO, leverages new technology that enables viewers to choose from which point of view to follow the story and, in effect, to build their own experience from the material created and curated by Soderbergh and Solomon.
Challenged to come up with compelling storylines and character connections without being able to anticipate what paths a viewer might choose to take, Solomon’s resulting script read like none other before it, and required Soderbergh to shoot scenes from multiple perspectives throughout filming. The technology developed to support this product resulted in PodOp filing 14 new patents, including script management tools for user selection-driven narratives and new forms of data mining to inform content experiences.
Soderbergh explains, “While branching narratives have been around forever, technology now allows, I hope, for a more elegant form of engagement than used to be possible. At no point were we reverse-engineering the story to fit an existing piece of technology; the story was being created in lockstep with the technical team. The fluidity of that relationship made me feel comfortable because I wanted it to be a simple, intuitive experience.”
In the MOSAIC app, as in life, the path you pick affects your perception of reality. What one viewer may consider a fundamental fact on one path may be an insignificant piece of trivia on another — or may not even be a “fact” at all. As its title suggests, MOSAIC isn’t complete until all the pieces are viewed from their proper perspectives.
MOSAIC lets viewers experience the story from multiple perspectives, going deeper to see the big picture:
– Film view: Watch the film in full-screen, immersive mode.
– Choice moments: Select which character’s perspective you want to adopt to continue your journey.
– Discoveries: Dive deeper into the story through additional content, including voicemails and emails between the characters, police reports, news clippings, and more.
– Look again: Go back and view the perspectives you missed to get the full picture.
After launching the app, users are introduced to famed children’s book author/illustrator Olivia Lake (Sharon Stone) and two men who will soon play important roles in her life: Joel (Garrett Hedlund), a handyman and aspiring artist, and Eric (Frederick Weller), a suitor whose motives may not be genuine. Once the introductions are complete, users must decide whether to follow the next portion of the story from Joel’s or Eric’s perspective. Along the way, they’ll meet a number of new characters with their own versions of the story to tell.
Viewers will be able to see how their versions of the story on the app ultimately compare to Soderbergh’s when HBO Films presents MOSAIC as a six-part limited series debuting Monday, Jan. 22 on the main HBO channel. Sharon Stone stars, along with Garrett Hedlund, Frederick Weller, Beau Bridges, Paul Reubens, Jennifer Ferrin, Devin Ratray, Michael Cerveris, James Ransone, Jeremy Bobb and Maya Kazan.
It certainly sounds like a cool new entertainment experience, there’s no denying that. How effective it will be remains to be seen. Watching movies/TV shows on my phone or even on a tablet has never been at all appealing to me, so I might just wait and watch Soderbergh’s version. Still, the whole thing is intriguing enough where I might be tempted to try out the app and see how it goes.
It will be interesting to see how people respond to Mosaic, if it’s something that could begin a new trend in television viewing or not. I could absolutely see something like this working on a streaming service like Netflix, where you can watch on your TV and when it’s time to make a choice a prompt comes up and automatically brings you to the next segment depending on what you choose. Downloading an app and watching on tiny mobile device screens sounds like it will be a person-to-person preference.