Archive - May 21, 2009

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In An Annotated World...

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Memo to NCM: QUIT IT.

Any regular reader of this site knows that I love technology on general principles. Even technology that seems, on the surface, frivolous. But really regular readers - the kind with lots of fiber in their diets - also know that I can turn cranky Luddite on a moment's notice, rejecting a new technology if I feel it crosses an invisible, unknowable line in my psyche. You know, like Twitter. When that happens, I have no choice but to insist that said technology immediately vacate my grassy expanse.

And if anything needs to get the fuck off my lawn post-haste, it's HYPERTRAILERS.

Hypertrailers are the newest invention of NCM, the parent company of the AMC and Landmark theater chains. Other inventions of these cinema-ruining bastards include "First Look", the advertainment puff pieces that practically start running during the credits of the previous show, and which turn the twenty minutes before and ten minutes after the movie's scheduled run-time into a hellish karmic payback for every commercial you've ever fast-forwarded through. They're also to blame for the "Fathom" events, which let you go to a movie theater in the middle of the week and watch stand-up comedy from Dane Cook or Glenn Beck. In other words, they're directly responsible for the collapse of civilization as we know it. Hypertrailers aren't that bad, but lord, they aren't good.

What is a hypertrailer? Well, remember about... three or four years ago, when you'd occasionally pop a DVD in your computer to watch it, and the DVD would install some hideous media player with all kinds of "extra" features, mostly enriching various sponsors? Well, imagine that, except entirely in Flash, and instead of the whole movie, it's just the movie trailer. With Hypertrailers, not only can you watch a commercial for a movie, you can "dive deeper" into that commercial for that movie, with puff-piece interviews promoting the movie, pictures promoting the movie, desktop wallpaper of the movie...

Basically, it's the bastard offspring of every bad movie website of the past five years, and YouTube. Because it's embeddable. So if you read, say, a really shitty blog, you might find that they'd embedded a hypertrailer in it, presumably out of spite for their audience. In the future, you won't seek out hypertrailers. They'll seek out you. I think this is how Skynet got started.

The good news is there's only one hypertrailer in existence, which means for now, it can only reproduce asexually. The bad news is that it's for "Angels and Demons", which is about as asexual a movie as you can find. Again, I question the utility. Who is the audience? Where are the people who sat through the trailer for "Angels and Demons" and thought, "you know what this trailer really needs? The ability to watch the movie's premiere in Rome. And if I could get a link to the Angels and Demons Facebook page*, then my life would finally be complete and I could die happy. Thank you, NCM! Five bucks for a Sprite is nothing if it goes toward this kind of value-added marketing proposition!"

My favoritest part of the Angels and Demons hypertrailer is the "Character Info" page. It's like those still-frame "character bio" pages you used to get on old DVDs, only this time, it's part of the trailer! Except, um, there's only one of them. For Tom Hanks' character. And the text part has these scroll arrows that let you scroll the text, which fits entirely in the box allotted it, so that the first two lines vanish above the top of the box, while the bottom of the box gains an inch of blank space. GENIUS.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like my trailers like I like my women: short, linear, and revealing all their best bits so that I don't have to spend money on them three months later. OK, that's not technically true. And it doesn't technically make any sense. But the fact is, regular, non-hyper trailers do everything we could possibly want them to do, plus a few things we'd rather they avoided. Trailers are like movie nachos. They can't be improved by giving us more of them. That way lies madness and explosive diarrhea.

*Seriously, if the Angels and Demons hypertrailer linking to the Angels and Demons Facebook page is what they mean by digital convergence and synergy, then Charles Stross is a delusional optimist and Ronald McDonald is a prophet.