One of the things that initially fascinated me with storytelling on the web was that it had no rules. Who knew a girl talking to a web cam would engage thousands to try to come to her aid? Or that French maids explaining how to change the oil in a car could grow into one of the most successful examples of product integration? As the community of web creators continues to grow and try to find the key to financial success, the internet space has become littered with series with similar formats, plotlines, and integration attempts and the margin for originality has become smaller and harder to find.
HBO, following up on its acclaimed “HBO Voyeur” project, has decided to push that envelope…not only that, it’s attempting to create an entirely new type of envelope. Like a space-age teleporting envelop that doesn’t even need to be pushed…
To become a part of this unique new form of storytelling, start by visiting HBOimagine.com. There you will be introduced to the HBO Cube. According to an HBO press release, “The HBO Cube … offers four different perspectives on the same scene, simultaneously. In telling the same story from four distinct points of view, each side of the cube stands alone as an engaging film, and as one piece of a larger puzzle. As viewers move around the cube, they watch the story unfold from different perspectives, forming different perceptions, and often misperceptions, of the characters and plot. Only by watching the story unfold from multiple sides of the cube can we begin to see the bigger picture.” A giant 4-sided version of The Cube was even on display in New York, DC and Philadelphia, with scenes directed by Noam Murro.
This unfolding story contains two of these “Cubes”, each 2:00 minutes in length. They each play twice successively, and you can rotate the cube to see each angle of the story at your discretion. One cube titled “The Affair” centers around a husband, wife, maid, and a mysterious half-naked man and the other, simply called “Heist” shows the execution of a meticulously organized crime. The cubes are connected by an additional 41 pieces of content that include both short- and long- form video, news stories, images, and audio files. As you navigate the content, a status bar tracks your progress and once every piece of content is unlocked, you are taken to a new page that contains a final video that connects the pieces together in a more traditional, linear fashion.
But just because you’ve unlocked all the content, don’t expect to see a distinct beginning, middle, and end to the tale. You will be left with many unanswered questions, including a question I still have no answer for: “will there be more content added at a later date?” Well, that and “what’s with the mime???”
Something you will have an opportunity to do is add your own original content. HBO Imagine’s companion site asks for community-created videos using the shooting style utilized in many of the videos in the story. As the site explains: “The rules are simple. Each film will be one take. No cuts, no editing. A simple turn or move of the camera will reveal there is much more to the story than the viewer first envisioned. The story should twist, turn, take us on a mental journey to a place far different than where we started. A place that’s more than first imagined.” So far, there only seems to be one original video posted as well as some example videos from HBO (including the one above…seriously, what’s with the mime???) and perhaps additional interaction is what HBO will want to see before continuing with this storytelling experiment.