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‘Seances’: Inside the Incredible Software That Attempts to Create Narratives from User-Selected Clips

Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson’s interactive work Seances–which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and now lives as on online piece–harkens back to the days of silent films. Using 1000 hours of original footage purposely decayed to look vintage, users are invited to select the pieces that speak most to them from a series of thumbnails. A wholly original 15-20 minute film is then rendered on-the-fly from the selected pieces, thanks to software from Nickel Media.

“Imposium is a dynamic video-rendering system that provides the ability to code a story with algorithmic storytelling. It uses data from different sources to create a compelling story. For Seances we looked at all the short films they shot as the primary data source and plugged that content into a dynamic formula to figure out what sequences to put together,” Nickel Media’s founder John Nickel tells Filmmaker Magazine. “Imposium is able to fuse together video content with content coming from any data source like social media, user-inputs, or product catalogs to compile videos that are more personal for the viewer. For Seances, users were able to control what clips they select and contribute to the changing film title on screen. Those selections would then contribute to what film was provided back to them. In this project, it was an indirect set of logic that built each of the films.”