The Avalon Penny Dropped

I know you know what I'm talking about when I say this because you're reading a tech focused blog: (Mum, if you came here looking for recipe ideas, you've been horribly misdirected.)


I feel dirty when watching a movie or TV show in which computers are depicted unrealistically.

You know the sort. The type of computer imagined in Hackers, Swordfish, James Bond, NCIS, Bruckheimer-this, Petersen-that, you name it. Any show in which the production or graphic designers envisage how they wish a computer program (or even the operating system) would work for the purpose of visual excitement and narration rather than functionality, and design a particular visual effect to be played back on a monitor.

I actually notice when user interfaces in movies look like real ones, because it's so jarringly different from the "Entertainment PC" concept I'm expecting while in my vegetative TV alpha-state.

It's Not Coming Off

The other night, I was busy looking for some bleach to douse myself in after seeing The CSI:NY Fingerprint Program, complete with large capitalized label-maker font "AFFIRMATIVE" and "NEGATIVE" matches embossed across the live-drawn fingerprint matching screen (the program's obviously a descendant of the Lost In Space Robot), when it hit me:

We're not that far away from the point at which a designer could easily create a user interface for a real program that looks how Normal People That Watch Movies think computer programs look, with all that crazy flying animation and redundant imagery and 3D bits and all that stuff. Designers already know how to build that stuff for TV, so they already have the Design Concept in their heads, and Avalon may well allow them to get that into an actual functioning program.

It was an epiphany for me. I'm excited by the possibilities. Once there's a real graphical designer out there (and I have to assume we're working on designers (and if we're not, someone else will be)), the types of visual styling and whiz-bang effects that movie producers so love become relatively straightforward to apply to a useful application.

Next time you're watching CSI:Springfield or James Bond in Die Twice Again To Kill, try to imagine how much effort it would take to program that movie user interface from scratch (as games tend to do), in Win32 or Win Forms or even Direct3D, as today's applications might, and then in Avalon.