Animatics ships interactive CD

Animatics, an Ottawa multimedia production firm, has begun shipping copies of its first consumer interactive cd-rom title, Midnight Stranger.Midnight Stranger represents a new entertainment genre that Animatics terms 'virtual intimacy.'Unlike traditional genres such as the novel or film, which contain a...

Animatics, an Ottawa multimedia production firm, has begun shipping copies of its first consumer interactive cd-rom title, Midnight Stranger.

Midnight Stranger represents a new entertainment genre that Animatics terms ‘virtual intimacy.’

Unlike traditional genres such as the novel or film, which contain a linear story line, virtual intimacy does not – at least the way it appears in Midnight Stranger.

The concept is that users interact with characters by indicating, on an ‘emotional range bar,’ an emotional response to the things the characters say.

The characters then react to the user’s emotional response, prompting another user response, and so on, thus taking the user on a non-linear plot path.

Alfredo Coppola, president of Animatics and producer of Midnight Stranger, says the idea behind Midnight Stranger is one of ‘thrill-seeking after midnight.’

What the user experiences is a simulated night out in Ottawa, with the chance to visit about 30 locations and meet 18 characters.

The characters appear in partial-screen video at 15 frames per second, which is half the full-motion rate of 30 frames per second.

Each time the viewer starts the program, which contains more than 60 minutes of video, color graphic environments and original music, he or she begins in a different spot, and, during the course of interacting with the cd, will experience the content in a different manner.

According to Coppola, the cd’s characters are multi-dimensional and frequently react in unexpected ways, ‘just as people do in real life.’

Thus, he says, the viewing experience is driven by ‘a combination of randomness and personal choice.’

In October, Midnight Stranger won the Most Innovative use of Multimedia award at the Macromedia International User Conference in San Francisco.

It is available only for the Macintosh platform, but an ibm pc-based form will be released in the fall. The suggested retail price is US$69.99.

Coppola says he is also working with Philips Electronics to develop a Compact Disc-Interactive version of the program.

San Diego-based Gazelle Technologies, the publishing arm of Educorp, has acquired the distribution rights for Midnight Stranger in the English-speaking world.

Animatics future plans in the area of interactive, virtual intimacy programming include a cd featuring a series of conflict situations that might be encountered in an urban environment.

Male and female versions of the yet-to-be-titled cd are in production. Release is scheduled for November.