Film at Eleven

It's Olof again, liveblogging from C4.

John Gruber took us on a tour of Apple User Interface last night, and talked about consistency and uniformity.  But he really got the thought provokage started with the observation

   "Designing an app is like directing a movie."

There is a building wave of people thinking of software in cinematic terms.  Do you remember seeing the genie effect for the first time?  Functionally, a window gets collapsed into the dock.  But if you were like me, you played with the genie effect a few times just to see it. 

Whether or not the genie's swoosh motion into the dock really does help the user  by, it was a defining part of the user experience.  For Mac developers in 2006, the idea of 'software as movie' is taking hold. If you haven't heard the phrase 'cinematic experience' enough this year, you haven't been drinking enough Kool-Aid.

And increasingly, application developers have more and more tools available to make animation and high quality sound a part of applications.  We've got compositing windows and serious CoreImage graphics processing, and computing power to spare to waste on pixel candy.  There are more subtle hints, too.  'Spotlight', 'Sherlock' or 'Time Machine' as names for technologies feel very Hollywood.  But at what point does building an application turn into directing a movie?  And is that a bad thing?

Gruber offers Delicious Library as an example of an application where a big part of the Wow factor was an only marginally useful but stunningly gorgeous library display shelf:

   "If I was a competitor to Delicious Library, I'd be demoralized looking at it.  Here I thought I was writing software and I got beat by a movie."

Continuing in that direction, its easy (but perhaps scary) to imagine a world where applications are differentiated like movies are.  Easy because Apple ships examples like GarageBand and iTunes that are moving in that direction.  Scary because there are examples like Kai's Power Tools.

Scary, too, because it means software developers need to think more and more like filmmakers.  Maybe MacBU needs to hire some people with movie industry experience.  What's that?  We already do?  Cool!