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Designing the Computer UIs In Movies

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the film-over dept.

Movies 371

xandroid points out an NPR interview with Mark Coleran, who "...designs the fancy-but-fake graphics that flash across computers in the movies. He has worked on a laundry list of blockbusters: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum, Children of Men, Mission Impossible III, and many more. He says a lot of the inspiration for computer screens comes from video games." The main point of these fake movie UIs is different than that of real UIs: to tell a story very quickly, not to reveal and enable function.

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FIRST FUMBLE !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881232)

Colts v NO

eat my ____ slashdot !!

Clever girl (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881276)

Does he also make those fancy monitors that project what is on the screen out into the room and onto any passing dinosaur?

Re:Clever girl (2, Funny)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881340)

And his brother is the guy who makes every moving car which rear ends a parked car go up in the air.

Re:Clever girl (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881422)

Actually his brother is responsible for the 'override password' backdoor into every FBI/NSA computer system.

Re:Clever girl (0, Offtopic)

deadlygopher (880385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881514)

This isn't reddit...

Re:Clever girl (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881778)

And his brother is the guy who makes every moving car which rear ends a parked car go up in the air.

No, that's his cousin. His brother is the guy who makes every car that goes over a cliff in a movie burst into a spectacular explosion.

Re:Clever girl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30882146)

His sister used to help out with the effects until she broke her ankle tripping over a root while running through a forest one day.

Re:Clever girl (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881602)

Well I rather see some fancy things in movies. Movies generally never show exact true life anyway in any area. Why should they in computer.

Life isn't a soap opera. Life isn't a love story. Life isn't about looking like Brad Pitt. Life isn't an action movie. You aren't Vin Diesel.

But movies are entertainment. I rather see some fancy looking computer interface in a movie than watch gentoo compiling nano for 50 mins and then crashing to an unresolvable state that requires complete reinstall of the system.

Re:Clever girl (2, Insightful)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882050)

Well I rather see some fancy things in movies. Movies generally never show exact true life anyway in any area. Why should they in computer.

Life isn't a soap opera. Life isn't a love story. Life isn't about looking like Brad Pitt. Life isn't an action movie. You aren't Vin Diesel.

But movies are entertainment. I rather see some fancy looking computer interface in a movie than watch gentoo compiling nano for 50 mins and then crashing to an unresolvable state that requires complete reinstall of the system.

I've seen some pretty cool UIs in movies/shows/24 and wish someone would implement it.
But we know the OSS guys can't ever agree on some fancy UI (superfluous) so we never get anything cool [compositing, Ribbon in Office->OpenOffice (yes I know some people find it annoying but a lot of people find it a lot faster at accomplishing most tasks)] till Microsoft does it first :/

Re:Clever girl (5, Funny)

DemonBeaver (1485573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882272)

You aren't Vin Diesel.

Unless he's on slashdot. Are you reading this, Vin?

Matrix, SSH, nmap, etc. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30882314)

Well I rather see some fancy things in movies. Movies generally never show exact true life anyway in any area. Why should they in computer.

Personally I liked how the character of Trinity used nmap to find a host with a vulnerable version of SSH (along with the SSHv1 CRC32 vulnerability). Nmap has actually been in a few movies:

http://nmap.org/movies.html

Re:Clever girl (5, Funny)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882006)

I'm not sure I understand what you're referring to . . .enhance.

Not as bad a directed security camera's (2, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882166)

I am sure you have seen it, when the characters watch a security video of something you saw earlier and apparently security camera's are on dolly's, move about and cut automatic to new shots for the most exciting action...

Although my worsed still is Jurassic Park, a time line underneath a live conversation...

Story? (2, Interesting)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881278)

The main point of these fake movie UIs is different than that of real UIs: to tell a story very quickly, not to reveal and enable function.

And what story is that? That computers in the future are shiny and pretty if not outright magical?

Re:Story? (3, Insightful)

Ja'Achan (827610) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881302)

The story of the movie of course. Most movies don't revolve around computers.

Re:Story? (2, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881378)

You're correct, in most movies Computers are just an effective crutch to keep the story going forward.

Re:Story? (5, Funny)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881564)

Everything in a movie is just a "crutch" to keep the story going forward.

Well for those movies that have stories. In some everything is a "crutch" to enable them to show off pretty CGI, and in others everything is a "crutch" to enable to show off various body parts of the cast.

Why? (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882324)

Not "why is everything a crutch to the story" but "why does the story NEED to rely upon fantasy crutches".

Why did the writer write the story so that it NEEDED a fantasy UI for a computer? Why not some other crutch? One that is more realistic?

The answer is, of course, simple. The writers don't know anything except how to get a job writing for Hollywood. Therefore, ANYTHING that they put in the story will be their personal interpretation of systems that they probably only know through other Hollywood movies written by writers just like them.

Which is one of the reasons why we get so much crap out of Hollywood.

My favorite crutch! (3, Insightful)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881746)

Evil Guy: You will now wire 1 gazillion dollars to my account in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.
Noob: Ok, whatever you say, >
Evil Guy: I have won! I am a Gazillionaire! There is nothing you can do to stop me now
Noob: Oh, Nooooooooo! Release my daughter/wife/boyfriend!
Evil Guy: I have the money already, I'll just shoot them instead
Noob: No, I'll come crashing through the wall in a hail of bullets and stop you

*** Meanwhile, back in the real world! ***
Evil Guy: Send me the money...blah blah blah.
Actual Real Person: OK, here you go ... >
Evil Guy: I have the money now, you get nothing
Actual Real Person (with FBI/Interpol agent): No, you have nothing but an entry on a computer screen. Gov't just froze those Assets and you don't even know it. Now, where is my daughter/wife/boyfriend whatever.

Negotiation begins...

Re:My favorite crutch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30882030)

Egads, we have a professional Hollywood-blockbuster screenwriter in our midst!

I'm kidding, of course. That writing was far too good to be in a Hollywood-blockbuster..

"Narrative Causality"... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881744)

The difference between movie UIs and real UIs is actually, in many respects, pretty similar to the difference between movie plots and real life (lack of) plots.

Real UIs always have a strongly generic character, because they are usually rather multipurpose(and even the fairly strongly single-purpose ones, industrial inventory systems and such, are often just special cases of horribly general enterprise stacks, hacked together by hacks for economic reasons). They have to expose a great many of the system's features because they have no way of knowing which ones the user is going to want. Movie UIs can be highly specific, without any visible provision for doing anything other than what is happening at that very moment; because they exist only for the purposes of the story. A particularly driven production team might want to make them look more generic, just to enhance the verisimilitude of the world by making it seem less wrapped around the story; but that is very much optional.

This is analogous to how movie plots work. In a movie, everything that happens, every character who exists, all accidents of fate, and so forth, is there by design, in order to advance the plot. There might be red herrrings, specifically to throw the audience off, or generic extras, to make things look realistic; but everything that matters exists and acts because it serves the plot. In real life, things just exist, probabilities are settled by chance. Only teleologists and the mentally ill are aware of a grand design being served.

Re:"Narrative Causality"... (2, Funny)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881888)

you make some good points, but occasionally, they go to far into the realm of weird and outrageous computer interfaces. *cough*swordfish*cough*
a friend of mine tried typing the way they did in swordfish. Jammed all his fingers in about 10 seconds.

Re:"Narrative Causality"... (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881930)

everything that matters exists and acts because it serves the plot.

Everything that matters, right.

So what would be the problem with showing an actual ssh "access denied" or "someone is doing something nasty" message? Or with using real security-related tools like netcat and iptables? I mean, sure, most of the screen is going to be irrelevant, but I'm sure the actors are going to be able to tell you what's going on, and it's still throwing in a bunch of "red herrings" or "generic extras" in the UI, still everything that matters serves the plot.

This wouldn't be a problem except... (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881288)

This wouldn't be a problem but it is part of a general tendency in Hollywood to favor looks cool and quickly understandable over accurate. This is understandable. But, it does lead to serious problems. This has lead for example to the general problem(called the CSI effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSI_effect [wikipedia.org] after the television show) that juries now often have ideas about what forensic scientists can do that have little to do with reality. This also happens simply with less knowledgable people interacting with computers. And the subject of this interview is apparently to blame. I have had some experience helping older people with computers where they seem genuinely confused about what computers can do, or what you can use computers to do. And when they have major misconceptions the misconceptions inevitably are of a form that one would get from seeing a TV show or movie.

Press to hack (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881430)

Hacking 0%
Hacking 25%
Hacking 50%
Hacking 75%

Hack complete!

Re:Not to blame (4, Interesting)

lyinhart (1352173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881446)

He's not the guy to blame for people's misconceptions regarding computers. He's just doing his job and making stuff look pretty. Blaming him would be like blaming some make up guy for making Hollywood starlets set an impossibly high bar for beauty. Or script writers for giving people misconceptions about how life works. Rather, it's the failing of the educational system for not adequately educating people regarding technology, which still remains a set of magic boxes for the lay man.

Re:Not to blame (1)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881672)

Sounds like a failure of proper parenting to me.

Re:Not to blame (1)

Lost Race (681080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881882)

How are parenting and education supposed to defeat the misconceptions older people get from bad TV?

Re:Not to blame (1)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882348)

If they had proper parenting and education they wouldn't get misconceptions from a TV...

It is suffice to say proper education or parenting for that matter isn't done, it's a process. Just because they are old is no excuse to be so easily mislead.

Re:Not to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881702)

Guilty or not, he's on on my hit-list, right below the pope.

Re:Not to blame (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881878)

Guilty or not, he's on on my hit-list, right below the pope.

Smoke a spliff, maybe throw some Bob Marley on the stereo and chill out, man.

Re:Not to blame (1)

k.a.f. (168896) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882212)

He's not the guy to blame for people's misconceptions regarding computers. He's just doing his job and making stuff look pretty. Blaming him would be like blaming some make up guy for making Hollywood starlets set an impossibly high bar for beauty. Or script writers for giving people misconceptions about how life works.

In other words, it would be quite appropriate.

Re:This wouldn't be a problem except... (5, Insightful)

WoRLoKKeD (1142351) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881450)

Personally, I'd say this is more of a problem with the inability of people to seperate reality from fantasy than any fault on the part of Mark Coleran and similar people. Aren't these people the same people who tell their children that they shouldn't believe everything they see on TV?

Besides, this guy has done one major thing, if nothing else. Apparently he, or others in his line of work are the ones to thank for the brilliant game that is Uplink coming into existence.

Re:This wouldn't be a problem except... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881502)

They may be, but they are also the ones telling their children that an invisible friend watches over them. So their opinions are suspect to say the least.

Re:This wouldn't be a problem except... (2, Insightful)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881580)

So because some people are stupid and can't distinguish fantasy from reality we should stop with the fantasy?

You're all for banning violent video games too, right?

Re:This wouldn't be a problem except... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881724)

My sister took a photo of a bald eagle with her cellphone. She mailed it to me and asked if I could "enhance it" for her.
If she hadn't told me what it was I'd have had no idea what I was even looking at. Damn you CSI. Damn you.

Re:This wouldn't be a problem except... (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882082)

Favor quickly understandable over accurate. This is understandable.

I see what you did there.

Personally I find the family situations the most...interesting.
Gorgeous cut child, never misbehaves, always does what you tell him.

We attribute positive character traits to attractive people more than we do non-attractive people.
Personally I just find looking at fat/ugly people (especially women) to be unsettling. I get this uncanny, clammy feeling all over. Bleck.
So I don't mind it.

so hes the guy to blame (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881298)

so hes the guy to blame for everyone thinking computer ui work is easy.

i would actually like to have some of the uis from movies to play around with and get a feel for.

downloading his mockups from the dvd and getting to play may even bring about an advancement of further ideas and maybe even improve computing for all of us :)

maybe i'm just the eternal optimist :)

Re:so hes the guy to blame (4, Informative)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881398)

Last I heard (back when TechTV was still going) the majority of the UIs are done with Stardock [stardock.com] .

Re:so hes the guy to blame (2, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881976)

depends on the show. a lot of scifi is done with flash based overlay's. Or more common when using "video phone" stuff is a green screen to be filled in later.

Re:so hes the guy to blame (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882126)

Is he the guy to blame for all the incredible annoying sounds movie and TV computers make. All those blips and blops may have been cool forty years ago when they released the Andromeda Strain, but just seem incredibly moronic today. I'd go fucking mental if every time I hit the Page Down button or refreshed a page my computer went "Blizzop-wik!"

LCARS (4, Insightful)

Malicious (567158) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881346)

Movie/TV interface design peaked with LCARS.

Re:LCARS (3, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881494)

True.

The newfangled action UI's like the ones in TFA look like toy packaging. [screenrant.com]

Re:LCARS (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881986)

tho, the description of lcars can basically be atm's with touch screens, or maybe a touchscreen variation on a MFD...

Re:LCARS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30882234)

True.

How It Really Is, JS Bach (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881348)

As the world of mobile apps continues to gain importance in our lives, the space will continue to be ruled by tech newbies who are probably genuinely clueless. We saw this sort of trend play out in the mid-90s, as online apps began to hit pay dirt. Before leaping into the online space, one entrepreneur was employed as a fish monger. Others were worse! The problem with the high-tech industry is that anyone can hit a home run, even if they don't know how the game works.

It's important to note, right off the bat, that successful mobile apps aren't anything like their desktop counterparts. The killer apps are obvious: GPS-based turn-by-turn driving directions, the contact directory combined with a phone module, and the voice-activated mobile search engine. The rest of the apps are secondary--this list includes the photo album, restaurant guide (Zagat, et. al.), camera, music player/audio streamer, calculator, news/book reader, and Web browser.

Research group Gartner says that the mobile app business will soon hit over $6 billion in annual sales. Really? Selling what, exactly? It seems to me that, in the first two years of the smartphone explosion, all of the apps you'll ever possibly need are already available, and most of them are either free or very cheap. Games might account for some of this, sure. I can understand the desire to play various cool games on the phone. Of course, a smartphone tends to have a battery life of around four hours of heavy use before the thing drops dead.

Various useful databases may offer some sort of subscription to help users stay on top of changing information. Again Zagat comes to mind. But if this system proves too expensive, people will turn to free sites like Yelp for their reviews. Therein lies the rub. Once free Websites begin to optimize themselves for smartphones (perhaps with a special URL), a lot of the apps will end up becoming buttons on a screen that merely load up the free app from a Website. All sorts of games ideal for small screens could easily become Web apps optimized for such devices.

This is exactly the reason that there won't be a lot smartphone platforms in the future. The Web guys (and the app coders) will settle on one or two platforms to sell apps for. These two platforms will be the iPhone and Android OSes. I just can't see it evolving any other way. Condolences to Palm, RIM, and Symbian.

Beyond little games, the real action will be in adjunct apps--programs like special readers for The New York Times, written to optimize your reading experience. Bloomberg and other stock services already have apps that keep you apprised of your portfolio and business news feeds in real-time. I expect to see a lot of adjunct apps from everyone with a Web presence who wants to service users who will rely more and more on their phones to access content and services.

The concept that most Internet activity will occur on mobile devices appeared in the media over a decade ago. As is typical with such premature predictions, many people got agitated when the bonanza didn't occur within a year or two. The prediction is finally coming to pass, thanks to the smartphone. Once people own one, they can't stay off the Internet.

Money will be made in the app scene. Somehow. Everyone loads up on apps. As soon as I got my Nexus One, I put 30-plus apps on the thing. But ask your friends to point out paid apps that they bought and found useful. You'll be lucky to find one or two.

The PC software market has been studied to death. A few years ago it was determined that very few users ever bought much more than Microsoft Office and a game or two. If you're reading this column, realize that you're probably the exception to this rule. Most users aren't computer magazine readers. Most users tend to be pretty clueless. If they're using the phone as their primary computer, it's probably worse.

In other words, don't expect a gravy train coding apps for these phones. Right now the novelty and the fact that experts are using the phones helps a lot. The scarcity of great apps helps too. But I think the market is going to get real grim, real fast. So, who wants to help me go code the Dvorak Smartphone Utilities? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

 

It's as simple as Ninnle! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881364)

All these fake OS in various movies, from Wargames to Jurassic Park to Star Trek, and beyond, are all powered by Ninnle Linux. It's so flexible, it can be made to look like any other OS, not to mention something completely different. Ninnle is the way of the future!

Re:It's as simple as Ninnle! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881926)

I heard that the version of Ninnle that was used for Wargames was ported retroactively to run on a Commodore 64. It looked kinda like GEOS, but with a KDE feel to it.

Re:It's as simple as Ninnle! (3, Informative)

Soul-Burn666 (574119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882310)

Actually, the 3D GUI in Jurassic Park did exist.
Although the official page is already down, you can check the internet archive version here [archive.org] . (Also seems down at the moment, quite sad though).
It was an experimental file system navigator called FSN, written by Silicon Graphics. Who else would try to push 3D even where it's not that useful?

Matrix averted this trope (4, Interesting)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881390)

The Viewer Friendly Interface [tvtropes.org] trope was (surprisingly) largely averted in the Matrix where only a little Hollywood was wrapped around an almost unmodified nmap and sshnuke [nmap.org] .

Re:Matrix averted this trope (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881938)

do note that those where used inside the matrix, while the outside interfaces where multiple screens of scrolling screensavers (not unlike swordfish), a minidisc player, and some gui elements that was clearly hollywoodian. All hooked up to some stainless steel dentist chairs...

Re:Matrix averted this trope (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882084)

The Matrix outside view wasn't Viewer Friendly, it was supposed to be the 24th century equivalent of a command line. The only guy who could really understand it was the geek.

Re:Matrix averted this trope (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882338)

Thanks a lot; I just spent an hour and a half clicking through tropes. I should know better than to visit that site..

Aikon-

I know the story said it was in a Flash but (1)

Quantumstate (1295210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881420)

Putting a slideshow into a flash movie is unnecessary and irritating. To get larger images I need to use the full screen option when the images take up less than half my screen area.

So does he make the "Enhance" Button? (1)

Gabe0463 (1438795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881426)

Just curious...that pseudo-tech is not only amazing from an image-manipulation standpoint, but also a plot-substitution one as well!

People who think fake UIs are real. (3, Insightful)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881448)

As a IT guy I hate being asked by a lay person "Do you understand what he's doing on that screen?" when we're watching some movie or TV show with a completely fake UI on some computer.

Re:People who think fake UIs are real. (3, Funny)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881526)

"Yep, It's actually an in-joke for nerds like me"
"What does it say?!"
"It tells me when someone can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality."

Stardock Systems in the 90s had stuff used for thi (3, Informative)

Locutus (9039) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881462)

In the 90s, with the OO( Object Oriented ) Workplace Shell on OS/2, a company called Stardock Systems came up with a great desktop enhancing package( Object Desktop ) which I'd heard was also being used to build screens for the film industry. It really made an OS/2 desktop pop and back then, only the NextStep UI can close to the default WPS. I don't think anything came close to what Stardock did with the WPS using their desktop extension Object Desktop.

The article could have went into what they use and what they've used. It was pretty shallow without that info IMO.

LoB

Hackers vs. Sneakers (3, Funny)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881474)

I imagine how tough if would be to make a scene interesting if they showed Kevin Mitnik typing into a korn shell.

Just keep him away from any real UI! (5, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881478)

This for the ones who think Movie-OS interfaces are cool and slick looking: They're not efficient, they're not sensible, they are not intuitive and most of all, they're not useable.

I often run into people who ask me "Why isn't this or that program designed like that one in this or that movie". Because it would not be usable. A few examples how Movie-OS interfaces are very, very poorly designed, from a usability point of view.

1) They're slow. Cue CSI fingerprint patching program. The program displays every single failed compare in quick flash forward display. Pulling the whole dataset from the database and rendering it takes time. This time is wasted. You would not want your program to do that.

2) Hard to reach buttons. Unfortunately, Knight Rider is the only example that comes to my mind right now, but it's true for far too many movies. Buttons located overhead, out of reach, sometimes requiring the user/pilot to stop doing whatever he is doing right now, move his hands and punch a minuscle button somewhere awkward. Yes, it looks cool, but it's about as sensible as putting the gear stick behind the driver's seat.

3) 100" see through displays. Again CSI (but it's made its way into various other movies by now). Yes, we all want bigger displays. Bigger is better. But there's a limit to better. Especially if, as in CSI, the additional space is not used to present more information but just to display the information in larger font or to fill it with more pointless gimmicky pictures. The angle your eye can see sharp in and can easily catch is very tiny. The diameter of the screen has to be viewable by moving your eyes alone and without strain, or it can just as well be accessible by scrolling.

4) Lifted-hands interface. Lacking a better term I dubbed it that: An interface that does not allow your hand to rest but requires you to lift them and reach. First of all, it's inaccurate. You are moving your hand from your shoulder instead of your wrist, which does limit your accuracy quite a bit. It's straining and tiring. Especially when you're supposed to hit tiny icons, this is magnitudes worse than traditional input.

5) Touch input. While we're at it. Touch input becomes so popular in cellphones that EVERYTHING has to be touch input now. In case you didn't notice: It's popular because you have the input device in your palm. Now put it upright like a computer screen and tell me how convenient, comfortable or accurate it is. Not to mention that you're covering the info you try to access with your fingers, which means that you will have to lift your hand to see what you're doing. It's comfortable for quick input, but not for constant use.

Basically, Movie-OS interfaces look cool and dramatic, and that's what they're good for. They are not good for use.

Re:Just keep him away from any real UI! (2, Interesting)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881694)

"5) Touch input. While we're at it. Touch input becomes so popular in cellphones that EVERYTHING has to be touch input now. In case you didn't notice: It's popular because you have the input device in your palm. Now put it upright like a computer screen and tell me how convenient, comfortable or accurate it is. Not to mention that you're covering the info you try to access with your fingers, which means that you will have to lift your hand to see what you're doing. It's comfortable for quick input, but not for constant use."

You make a good point with most of it, but this one is wrong. When I bought my tablet, I didn't expect to use the touchscreen in laptop-form at all. Instead, what I find now is that I have a tendency to try to push 'Okay' buttons and close windows on normal LCDs by touching the screen. Obviously I've found it to be a lot easier and more intuitive to touch it than use the mouse, despite have worked with mice for so many years. I can hear you saying 'Okay, I said "for quick input". The thing is, interfaces have to be designed for how they get their input. Most of ours are designed with kb/mouse input in mind, but they could easily be designed with touch-input in mind and avoid the idiotic 'fingers are blocking data' problems.

We've a long way to go, but that's the direction we're headed.

Point 5 (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882264)

Reach to your screen to close this window: Oops, data obscured.

Solution? Put the controls BELOW the data.

Different inputs require different UI designs.

Never push the big red button (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882284)

2) Hard to reach buttons.

Yes, it looks cool, but it's about as sensible as putting the gear stick behind the driver's seat.

Not entirely true.

Sometimes you want to prevent mistakes.

You want to force the user to think about what he is about to do. Because all sales are final.

So you introduce arbitrary barriers and complications.

Star Trek:TOS Court-Martial, [mac.com] 1967 is a textbook example of what can go wrong.

To jettison the forward sensor pod the Captain flicks an unmarked switch that looks and feels exactly like the others built into the arm of his chair.

The odds that he'll fire the damn thing off by accident sometime in his career are probably no worse than 1 in 4.

 

Re:Just keep him away from any real UI! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30882326)

Now put it upright like a computer screen and tell me how convenient, comfortable or accurate it is.

Here's a solution. Don't put it upright! Lay the screen down on the desktop, and you've avoided gorilla arm. Movies need displays to be upright so they can have both the display and the characters faces in frame at the same time. real life doesn't need that.

I don't know why it is, that over 90% of the arguments against touchscreen input for the desktop are all about the difficulty of an upright input method. From your own post, you already know the problem is with the upright part alone and is not touch input in general. Yet you still complain as if the problem was inherent to all touch based input.

80's version of this was lacking (2, Interesting)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881486)

I remember being slightly irked by computer scenes in 80's movies: while showing a person typing command line text, the displayed text was revealed at a constant rate, probably about that of a 150 baud modem. The appearance is vastly different than that of someone actually typing.

Same with early attempts at showing GUI use - constant, linear movements of the cursor.

I suspect that the problem came from lack of the computer / tech equivalent of a 'sound guy'. No way would a sound engineer allow an otherwise well-made movie to be released with out of sync, or unnatural spoken word.

Movie OS @ userfriendly.org (2, Interesting)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881496)

Read the Movie OS arc at userfriendly.org, starting here: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20010111 [userfriendly.org]

Re:Movie OS @ userfriendly.org (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881624)

Darn you, Beat me to it... :)

Re:Movie OS @ userfriendly.org (1)

bencoder (1197139) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881996)

And a rather similar single strip from Casey and Andy [galactanet.com]

AWESOME! (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881504)

I've been wanting a Hollywood Windows Theme forever! Does this guy make one??

DMV System in The Net (1995) (1)

theodp (442580) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881540)

Love how Sandra Bullock's Driver's License fades out of existence [youtube.com] .

Avatar was cool... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881572)

I liked the one scene in Avatar where a scientist slides a finger across a 3D display to a mobile device to transfer over the viewable data. Now that's mobile computing. I can see that technology being developed. If any company can develop that technology, it'll probably be Apple.

Re:Avatar was cool... (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881978)

I liked the one scene in Avatar where a scientist slides a finger across a 3D display to a mobile device to transfer over the viewable data. Now that's mobile computing. I can see that technology being developed. If any company can develop that technology, it'll probably be Apple.

Microsoft Surface does this. Here's a demo video from 2007. It's kind of long, but there's a section where the user sets a camera and a phone on the table and passes information between the two just by swiping.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlZxuqjJDgk [youtube.com]

Re:Avatar was cool... (1)

Idarubicin (579475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882242)

I liked the one scene in Avatar where a scientist slides a finger across a 3D display to a mobile device to transfer over the viewable data.

Amen. That's exactly how a touch interface ought to work. Indeed, it's such a good idea that variations have already appeared in other films, including Quantum of Solace (2008) [posterous.com] and even Minority Report (2002) [youtube.com] .

they look absurd (2, Insightful)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881574)

Usually when I see one of these computer screens the absurdity is quite distracting - often because it looks like a computer game and not software being used by highly skilled professionals at work. Actually that's a bit unfair, most games' UI is and looks much more usable. It doesn't help when the script calls for software that apparently comes with a button simply labelled "magically solve your problem".

But but but... (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881630)

I *WANT* a display that works like the ones in the movies. Fast updates, screen wipes, keyboard and mouse functionality fully integrated, projection capability, contextually and dramatically appropriate sound effects. And of course, spark effects as appropriate.

Re:But but but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881668)

Yeah, but the high-pitched bleepy, morse-codey noises that are made for every line of text drawn on the screen would drive me nuts after a few hours.

I love NCIS... (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881658)

Half the time they need to get into someone's computer and you get a glimpse of it running, it's Linux.

"Hey, I recognize that directory structure..."

An example of realistic UI (3, Interesting)

zebslash (1107957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881722)

The movie Antitrust was pretty realistic and accurate. The computer interface that was shown was Gnome. Even the lines of code that were displayed had been borrowed from Open source projects. Maybe that is because the producers listen to professional consultant (among which there was de Icaza). I am sure there are other examples of good UI, but indeed they are a minority.

Dear sir, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881796)

Please do not use "professional" and "de Icaza" in the same sentence. Thank you.

Re:An example of realistic UI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30882200)

Too bad the plot was completely unrealistic. What a piece of crap that movie was. But, hey, realistic computer screens. Yippee!

Wrong UI on computer of use (1)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881750)

It annoys me when they sit down to a PC and the close up is clearly a Mac OS. (Sometimes the opposite happens, but not as often). I recall this in "The Net" and in the American version of "La Femme Nakita" called "Point of No Return" with Bridget Fonda. I would prefer a "made up UI".

Re:Wrong UI on computer of use (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882266)

It just proves that more Mac users are terrorists / spies / hackers / stock swindlers / generic-euroaccented-bad-guys than Windows users. They even disguise the computer case to make it look like just another PC. You can't trust them!

Been there (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881752)

We had a thread on Ubuntuforums [ubuntuforums.org] dedicated to this topic. I think we concluded that tdfsb [determinate.net] is awesome.

Jurassic xterms (3, Funny)

nudicle (652327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881758)

It's a UNIX system! I know this!

Re:Jurassic xterms (3, Informative)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881846)

It's a UNIX system! I know this!

That system used in Jurassic Park actually exists. It's called fsn [wikipedia.org] and it has an open source alternative called tdfsb. [determinate.net]

Re:Jurassic xterms (1)

nudicle (652327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881884)

hey now, I didn't say it didn't exist. I just quoted the movie.

Re:Jurassic xterms (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881908)

I know, but a lot of people think that scene was faked.

Re:Jurassic xterms (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882292)

The real problem is that the vast majority of people familiar with Unix would (a) not have recognized fsn as being the front-end of a Unix system and (b) immediately have closed it and found their way to a shell, where they could spend less time navigating through an unknown directory structure and more time using the tools that they located with find. But that makes for a boring movie. What they should have done is left out that one line. Oh, and made the kids the ages they were in the novel so that their cutesy lines didn't come off as evidence of developmental challenge.

UI doesn't matter (3, Insightful)

dvh.tosomja (1235032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881784)

UI doesn't matter, but unlimited zoom must be there!

To tell a story quickly..... (1)

UseCase (939095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881830)

"The main point of these fake movie UIs is different than that of real UIs: to tell a story very quickly, not to reveal and enable function."

This sentence is quite telling and ultimately the main reason behind the flash of (or lack of flash) in comupter UI's in motion pictures. They are used to drive the plot. Everyone here has surely noticed the cool looking way people "hack" computers in the movies. How about the slowing ticking progress bar and flashing data presented when people are illegally downloading files to a usb drive. In some movies the UI is so 3d and gesture advance as to make the user "dance" to interact with it. This is to present the virtuosity of the user at his craft. In other movies retro monochrome looking console UI's are used to give things an analog grittiness. I find the whole thing quite fascinating. Its a dream job if there ever was one.

The coolness of fictional media UI's does make it hard to design regular UI's for real products. The user expectation is pretty high. I always chuckle a little when I start up my PS3. The main nav is just a menu tree. The eye candy floating in the back has no function use whatsoever but most of the processing during the navigation phase is consumed by presenting the cool liquid effect in the background.

I've been watching "The 1st 48" (US reality show about solving murder cases) for a while. I love how all of the UIs are basically just MS Windows and maybe a web based perp search application because is what cops actually use. I compare this show to CSI all the time and "CSI fan" friends hate me for it.

Re:To tell a story quickly..... (1)

Doug52392 (1094585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881956)

In the film "Out of Time" (a film about a cop, played by Denzel Washington, whose secret girlfriend shows up dead, and the cop keeps his affair with her a secret until he can figure out who "killed" her), there is a scene where Denzel's character has to alter his "dead" lover's phone records to keep his affair with her a secret, so he snatches the records from the fax machine before anyone notices, scans them into his Windows 2000 PC, and uses some low-tech imaging program to delete each of his phone numbers from the list, then sends the altered phone records to the fax machine, all while his partner is on the phone with the phone company getting them to re-fax the records.

His PC ran Windows 2000 with no fancy graphics, and even had a slowly moving progress bar.

"Science" in movies not built for realism (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881890)

For example, I recently say "Pandorum". And they're suddenly getting data on Earth from a probe in another star system that landed 6 days ago, but that'd take at least 4+ years at lightspeed. The plot's pacing just doesn't have time for realism. You can either sit back and enjoy or irritate yourself over such things, I prefer to enjoy the movie. I'm sure doctors are shaking their heads at all the "medicine" happening in movies too. Or to go back to the classics, take Star Trek and the computer that's absurdly context- and plotsensitive, you can ask questions like "Computer, were there any anomalies detected?" and it'll point out a vital plot clue in less than 5 seconds. Same with computers now, you always and only get exactly what it is the plot needs.

Re:"Science" in movies not built for realism (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882176)

I just watched it a couple of nights ago. I thought that the broadcast from Earth had happened years before. Maybe I wasn't watching it too closely, because on otherwise interesting movie was filled with pointless zombies who seemed to serve no useful purpose other than to be scary at the appropriate moments.

Coolest Movie UI (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30881898)

The hero's position look remarkably like that of a belly gunner of a B-17. The UI should consist of two grids of 4 squares by 4 squares projected and rotated about. And the enemy imperial fighters should appear in a jerky 2D cartoons seen in space invader. The gun barrels firing laser should recoil like 15inch naval guns firing one ton projectiles. That is the coolest UI evar!

Blame Hollywood (well the Directors, at least) (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881954)

Yeah, I do this $hit for Hollywood, too. Just did a couple of fake websites this past week. It really is the directors who want this stuff, and despite wanting everything else to be realistic: the acting, the sets, the costumes, somehow the computers on screen are as fake as we can make them.

Unnecessary and annoying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30881990)

Someone fire the guy. Really. Just show KDE or Gnome and be done with it.

Korea does not do this (1)

BlueFiberOptics (883376) | more than 4 years ago | (#30882044)

All Korean dramas and movies pretty much use Windows XP/Vista. (Ok, some movies have used Macbooks) I get so annoyed when I see a vanilla XP install/computer in the dramas with the default rolling hill background. At least change the background to make it look like people actually use the computer. :(
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