Cinema and its ultimate goal even today remains to engross the public as much as it can. Interaction if possible is always welcome and there have been path breaking ideas practiced over the years, in fact some that you probably can never imagine to exist at the time.
Barker (1895 to 1920)
If folks from the late 1800s were to enter today’s cinema they would say it is rather interactive. This is because back in the day when audio was not recorded for simultaneous production alongside moving images, it was the job of the barkers or a crew who produced sounds by physically playing them as the pictures moved on screen. Naturally, they would stay as hidden away from view as possible and cue sounds with each passing picture on screen providing the first sense of interaction.
The Kinoautomat (1967 to 1974)
Called the first true interactive cinema ever, it was presented for the first time at the Czech Pavilion. The brainchild of Raduz Cincera, the Kinoautomat allowed viewers to intervene during the movie plot and decide the next course of action.
The concept was simple actually. During specific moments in the film, it would be interrupted and the public is then introduced to make a decision between two choices on screen. Based on the choice made, the movie would continue with the chosen narrative. This continued until all choices were exhausted. Many have called the Kinoautomat as an illusion of interaction since the voters actually voted for an ending that was always going to happen, it is just the path leading to the ending that had the illusion of choice in it.
GMF (1991 to 1996)
A weird acronym but it is actually a crossover between videogames and movies. This genre began gaining popularity through the early 90s as storage devices became capable of not just holding media but some amount of programming too. Cut scenes would be placed and depending on a player’s interaction, the movie would progress to the next stage. At the time, video games such as these were actually believed to be the cinema of tomorrow. GMF did well for some time with games such as Wing Commander being the biggest hit.
DVD Video (1994 to 2010)
Long forgotten now but it was in 1995 that the movie industry was revolutionized with the introduction of Digital Video, with high quality viewing and the ability to allow up to 128 different commands thus letting you interact with a movie and activate specific events in a sequence. Often referred to as informational DVD, these made a strong appearance till late 2010.
The latest in line of interactive cinema is from a Belgian startup that is promising interesting amusement park creations. By using wind tunnels, inversion tables, vibrations, and various other sensation exploitation techniques they attempt to bring the viewer into a surreal real world kind of experience.