Our musings on making video personal
Where do James Bond, Woody Allen and Ferris Bueller meet? At the night of the personalized Oscars of course. If you work in the personalization business and try to explain what you do to outsiders, you may get a lot of raised eyebrows and questions.
“What is personalization? How does that work?”
One way to describe the concept is through the shared experience of film. Numerous movies offer unique takes on personalization – and since the Oscars have just taken place, we decided to do our own personalized Oscars.
Secret agents like James Bond are one of a kind, so their weaponry deserves customization. In two of 007’s big-screen adventures, his gun features a biometric palm scanner triggered for his touch only. Adding to the personalized arsenal, the Kingsman films feature a Savile Row shop which outfits each agent with bespoke gadgetry.
When he travels into the future, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) picks up a form-fitting jacket and shoes. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) equips Peter Parker (Tom Holland) with a Spider-Man suit designed for his arachnid abilities, such as webshooters that can emit different types of webbing.
Often the movie versions of personalization embody hardware or software with artificial intelligence. Samantha (voice of Scarlett Johansson), the operating system in “Her,” is able to adapt and evolve based on the needs and wants of its owner, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix). In “Blade Runner 2049,” Joi (Ana de Armas) is a holographic entity whose personality can match itself to her environment and her user.
When a character breaks the imaginary fourth wall and speaks to the camera, the movie itself becomes personalized content, establishing a direct connection between the character and each member of the audience. In “Annie Hall,” Alvy (Woody Allen) steps out of a scene where he waits in line to release his frustration about an obnoxiously loud customer: “What do you do when you get stuck on a movie line with a guy like this behind you?” After the credits finish in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) emerges in his bathrobe and tells viewers, “You’re still here? It’s over! Go home!”
Seen in: “Minority Report” (2002)
In the most relevant example to SundaySky, Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi action/thriller envisions a transparent future where personalization is paramount. In one memorable scene, police officer John Anderton (Tom Cruise) walks through a shopping mall with retinal scanners that send him targeted video ads for brands such as Guinness (“John Anderton! You could use a Guinness right now!”), American Express, Bulgari and Lexus. Later, he enters a Gap store and is cheerfully asked by a virtual assistant, “How’d those assorted tank tops work out for you?”
In recent years, advancements in special effects and a push for realistic storytelling have brought Hollywood’s portrayals of personalization closer to science fact than fiction. This, in turn, has inspired even more ideas in personalized technology. For instance, it should be noted that most of the films mentioned in this article are available on a certain data-driven platform tailored to your particular moviegoing interests and habits: Netflix.
Have any more examples of personalization in film? Let us know in the comments!