Cutting Room

Researchers and software developers at DC Labs have pioneered an authoring toolkit for interactive storytelling known as ‘Cutting Room’. 

With the original version of the toolkit developed in partnership with BBC R&D, the latest iteration provides the most comprehensive support yet for authoring Object-Based Media (OBM) stories. Cutting Room provides new functionalities that facilitate the creation of complex narrative structures and signifies a milestone in interactive video storytelling. 

Over the past decade there has been a massive shift in the way that audiences watch film and television. Viewers increasingly expect to determine how, when, where and in what form the viewing experience takes place, whether through explicit choices or through their automatically compiled data profiles.

Streamed online content and social media respond partly to this demand, but they are still rather limited when it comes to the configuration and adaptation of the stories themselves. For example, for TV content, viewer interactions are mostly fragmented from and have little impact on the programmes themselves, which remain fixed and linear. 

OBM is a term used to describe narrative content that is tailored to the viewer’s circumstances, preferences and devices. It presents viewers with a personalised and interactive experience but poses an intensely complex authoring process to producers and creatives.

The ‘objects’, such as audio and video clips, graphics, text, and music, are the same elements used in traditional, linear filmmaking and broadcasting. However, using OBM, producers are able to structure these objects into interactive multidimensional story worlds that flex to the preferences and data profile of each individual viewer.

Cutting Room presents an expressive and highly effective process for creating interactive stories for film, television and other audio-visual media. It enables producers to test and refine OBM content from concept through to deployment without having to understand the technicalities of computer coding or software design. 

Originally conceived in partnership with BBC R&D, Cutting Room has been used to produce interactive films including What is Love (Ben Reid, 2018), Brooke Leave Home (Jonathan Hook et al, 2019), and Stepping Through (Simona Manni, 2021). The toolkit also featured at the UK House showcase, part of SXSW 2021. 

As part of a project with Bright White and XR Stories, Cutting Room is also set to feature as part of an interactive exhibit at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford

Click here to access the full research paper.

Cutting Room