Beyond 'Bandersnatch': Choose Your Own Inspiration at SME

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When Netflix released "Bandersnatch," the long-awaited interactive episode of Black Mirror, fans thronged to … well, "watch" isn't quite the right word, since the whole appeal is that they could influence the trajectory of the story, which was itself about a game developer working on a choose-your-own-adventure project. Loaded with 1980s pop-culture references—for instance, one viewers' choice is between two cassettes, Thompson Twins' Into the Gap andNow That's What I Call Music II—it's all very meta.

But if most viewers were interested in what they would see next, streaming industry insiders were more interested in how Netflix made it work. A long delay after making a selection would frustrate viewers, so the stream switching had to be almost instantaneous, with no degradation in picture quality. If it didn't work on a technical level, it wouldn't work on a creative level.

Luckily, "Bandersnatch" wasn't Netflix's first foray into interactive storytelling; the SVOD service had already released two kids' shows in the format, Puss in Book: Trapped in an EpicTaleand Minecraft: Story Mode.  At Streaming Media East in May, Netflix Manager of Video Engineering Andy Schuler will deliver the closing keynote "Interactive Storytelling: Choose What Happens Next." He'll talk about how Netflix overcame the biggest technical challenges of the project (ie. mastering, encoding, streaming), how his team utilized SMPTE Interoperable Master Format (IMF) to streamline the process, and why the industry needs more formalized mastering practices for future projects.

Choose wisely—register for Streaming Media East today, and use the code ESRSUPER to get $200 off the current rate (that's the Super Early Bird rate until Febuary 15) for our most popular passes.

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