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ShapeShifting TV: interactive screen media narratives

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This paper presents a paradigm, called ShapeShifting TV, for the realisation of interactive TV narratives or, more generally, of interactive screen-media narratives. These are productions whose narrations respond on the fly (i.e. in real time) to interaction from active viewers. ShapeShifting TV refers to productions made mainly with pre-recorded time-based material, in which variation is achieved by selecting and rearranging atomic elements of content (e.g. video clips) into individual narrations. The aimed quality of the productions (e.g. narrative continuity and aesthetics) is at least that of good traditional linear TV programmes. The artefact which determines the way individual stories unfold, called the narrative space, is authored and tested by experts before the delivery of the programme. However, the adaptation of narrations to input, at delivery time, is automatic. ShapeShifting TV is a generic paradigm; it is neither production nor genre specific. Furthermore, it is not confined to television; it is about screen media in general. ShapeShifting TV is founded on a computational language called Narrative Structure Language (NSL) and is accompanied by a comprehensive software system for authoring and delivery (which implements NSL). These were successfully employed to the creation of a number of ShapeShifting TV productions, which extended genres such as drama, documentary and news with interactivity. This paper defines the ShapeShifting TV paradigm, outlines NSL and the associated software, and presents two ShapeShifting TV productions.

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Correspondence to Marian F. Ursu.

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Ursu, M.F., Kegel, I.C., Williams, D. et al. ShapeShifting TV: interactive screen media narratives. Multimedia Systems 14, 115–132 (2008).

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