Steven Soderbergh’s new, free iOS-only app, Mosaic, promises to change how you watch TV

“Plotting director Steven Soderbergh’s latest project — an interactive smartphone app called Mosaic — required covering most of the walls in a Chelsea loft with color-coded cards and notes,” Angela Watercutter reports for Wired. “The app contains a 7-plus-hour miniseries about a mysterious death, but because viewers have some agency over what order they watch it in and which characters’ stories they follow, each scene—and the point at which it should be introduced—had to be meticulously planned so that no detail was revealed too late or too soon. The script for it is more than 500 pages long and was written after most of the story was laid out using all of those notecards. Soderbergh and his team have been working on it for years. Turns out it takes a lot of work to overhaul TV as we know it.”

“Mosaic, which is available today for iOS devices, started out of frustration,” Watercutter reports. “Soderbergh was getting increasingly annoyed with the Hollywood system and starting to realize the general structure and grammar of what a film looked like hadn’t evolved in decades. At the same time, Casey Silver, the former head of Universal Pictures, was trying to develop a new way to tell stories.”

“Where they ended up was a smartphone-enabled story, developed and released by Silver’s company PodOp, that lets viewers decide which way they want to be told Mosaic’s tale of a children’s book author, played by Sharon Stone, who turns up dead in the idyllic ski haven of Park City, Utah,” Watercutter reports. “After watching each segment—some only a few minutes, some as long as a standard television episode — viewers are given options for whose point of view they want to follow and where they want to go next… It’s concept isn’t wholly original—Soderbergh himself notes that ‘branching narrative has been around a long time’ (the most obvious analogue is a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but Soderbergh cringes at that analogy) — but that it finds a way to appeal to both fans of interactive storytelling, and people who just want to watch some decent TV.”

Tons more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Mosaic is available for free here, unless you’ve stupidly settled for a pretend iPhone, fake iPad, or Apple TV knockoff in which case you’re shit out of luck as usual.

Mosaic is accessible in the U.S. and certain U.S. territories and works only on Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV.

19 Comments

  1. One of the nice things about iOS is that you get to see innovative stuff ahead of Android. On Mac it’s the other way around which can be somewhat frustrating.

    It is interesting that innovators and developers choose iOS even though there are far more Android phones out there. That says a great deal.

  2. As long it isn’t from the, I am SO tired of them, series of Superhero’s or people with odd abilities, Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Zombies, etc., or remakes and reboots of anything – ESPECIALLY anything already rebooted in the past 20 years, then I’ll give it a try.

    Note to Hollywood: Original ideas are appreciated. We are tired of the same stuff over and over again.

      1. – “Rule of the rabble”
        – “Marketing to the lowest common denominator”
        – “Keeping the voters stupid keeps the [insert party here] elected”
        – “Short-term thinking, long-term disaster”

        It’s the ugly backside of any amoral, irresponsible branch of capitalism. Money now, screw the consequences.

        Sound familiar? It’s a spirit of our age, particularly in the USA at this moment in time.

      2. No, the blame is squarely on Hollywood for the crappy super hero movies over the last ten years or so. The public has become starved for unique entertainment, and the void has been filled with shows like the Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, and the Family Fued. And what about computer games? Even my elderly parents are starting to play computer games on their phones because the movies are so boring.

        The movie makers have clearly dropped the creative ball. The introduction of interactive movies is a positive step. Hopefully, interactive AR movies will soon follow.

        1. Interactive VR movies I can see.. Even 360 degree movies would be a change. AR movies though would be a totally new field altogether that would have massive computing requirements not possible for consumer use presently. I would imagine an AR movie would have to have objects and actors that interact with your environment meaning no 2 people will have the exact same experience if that is even possible in real environments that constantly change.

        2. Hollywood might have completely lost a generation because of their failure to innovate. I just asked a nineteen-year-old influencer what her favorite movie was, and she had no answer. No answer!?! This young woman has an opinion about everything, but she doesn’t know a favorite movie!?!

          The state of the moving picture business is an important topic because Apple is rumored to be spending billions of dollars on content. They will significantly influence a lot of the content made. Up until recently, I was going to Apple the benefit of the doubt, but Apple Music refused to make one of my playlists public. They did this because the cover I created contained an artsy picture of a model wearing a bikini-like outfit. It seems Apple finds models in bikinis offensive. Do they also think something far more egregious like violence is offensive? Are they not going to produce content similar to Star Wars or Buck Rogers?

          I’m rambling, but I’m sick and tired that the majority of moving picture is targeted towards drooling morons. Adding Apple into the equation is going to make it far worse. Can you imagine a Game of Thrones where the characters duel each other with toothpicks while sweating on their neatly pressed polo shirts? No, wait… sweating is too offense because it might show the characters’ pectoral muscles.

  3. Interesting idea following a Choose Your Own Adventure concept for videos. We might see versions with a voice interface for it on Google or Amazon’s speaker and TV devices before long if not YouTube.

    1. Reading the source article, in addition to drawing from the Choose Your Own Adventure concept, it feels like it also adds touches of the “24” tv series in the style.

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