Direct Steven Soderbergh’s HBO limited series Mosaic doesn’t air until January, but a new free app launched today allows viewers to build their own storylines and points of view from material created and curated by Soderbergh and writer Ed Solomon.
App users will then be able to compare their own versions with the full series when it debuts Monday, Jan. 22 on HBO.
The app launched today as a free download for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, with a free Android app coming soon. The app is presented by media tech company PodOp, was developed for HBO by Soderbergh and Casey Silver in conjunction with Solomon.
The HBO six-part series stars Sharon Stone, along with Garrett Hedlund, Frederick Weller, Beau Bridges, Paul Reubens, Jennifer Ferrin, Devin Ratray, Michael Cerveris, James Ransone, Jeremy Bobb and Maya Kazan.
Via the app, users are introduced to Stone’s Olivia Lake, a famed children’s book author/illustrator, and two men who will play important roles in her life: Joel (Hedlund), a handyman and aspiring artist, and Eric (Weller), a suitor whose motives may not be genuine. Once the introductions are complete, users must decide whether to follow the next portion of the story from Joel’s or Eric’s perspective. Along the way, they’ll meet a number of new characters with their own versions of the story to tell.
Says Soderbergh, “While branching narratives have been around forever, technology now allows, I hope, for a more elegant form of engagement than used to be possible. At no point were we reverse-engineering the story to fit an existing piece of technology; the story was being created in lockstep with the technical team. The fluidity of that relationship made me feel comfortable because I wanted it to be a simple, intuitive experience.”
Developed in association with HBO, the app was three years in the making. According to HBO, Solomon and Soderbergh were “challenged to come up with compelling storylines and character connections without being able to anticipate what paths a viewer might choose to take.” Soderbergh shot scenes from multiple perspectives throughout filming.
The technology developed to support this product resulted in PodOp filing 14 new patents, including script management tools for user selection-driven narratives and new forms of data mining to inform content experiences.
The Mosaic app lets viewers experience the story from multiple perspectives, watch the film in full-screen immersive mode, select which character’s perspective to adopt and explore the story through additional content including voicemails, emails, police reports, news clippings, and more.
Take a look at the Mosaic trailer above.