The evolution of immersive storytelling

Designer Alex McDowell works with cutting-edge experts to move entertainment into a new, more immersive and participatory experience for the viewer.

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British designer Alex McDowell is best known for his work in cinematic storytelling. He designed the sets for a number of blockbuster films, including Minority Report, Fight Club and Man of Steel. McDowell founded 5D Global Studio, a cross-disciplinary, multi-platform design studio that looks at the evolution of storytelling (particularly in film) from a linear, visually controlled experience into a more spontaneous, participatory experience for the audience. The business, he says, is about stimulating curiosity.

This method of storytelling began with McDowell’s work on Minority Report. Before the script had even been written, he imagined a world in the year 2050, considering to the finest detail what the city of Washington DC would look like. The story and script then evolved out of the world that McDowell created.

While prototyping this future world, McDowell created clothing, media, advertising, and transportation systems as well as the technologies that would be used by the characters. Many of these conceptual technologies have since come into being: driverless cars, gesture-based interfaces, voice-activated devices, iris security-scanners, and 3D video all now exist.

More recently, McDowell was on the team who created the Leviathan Project, which launched at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014. In this augmented reality experience, the physical and virtual worlds merged with the help of cutting-edge technologies. Inspired by the steampunk tale by Scott Westerfeld, the Leviathan Project allows viewers to play with a giant floating whale, controlling the narrative as they follow her journey and experiencing the story with an unprecedented level of freedom.

Alex McDowell will be speaking at Design Indaba Conference 2016. Book now.

*This video was originally published on Wondros

Watch the Talk with Alex McDowell