This article was published on April 13, 2012

Brandon Generator: A new anti-hero boosts interactive storytelling for IE9 users

Brandon Generator: A new anti-hero boosts interactive storytelling for IE9 users
Jamillah Knowles
Story by

Jamillah Knowles

Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemi Jamillah is the UK Editor for The Next Web. She's based in London. You can hear her on BBC Radio 5Live's Outriders. Follow on Twitter @jemimah_knight or drop a line to [email protected]

Interactive storystory telling just got a new anti-hero. Introducing Brandon Generator, the would-be author who is wrestling with writer’s block.

The animated story is a collaboration between Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and renowned Marvel and Lucasfilm illustrator, Tommy Lee Edwards. The first edition is already live and there will be four episodes in total between April and June.

As if the cool points there are not enough, the music is from David Holmes’ new Unloved project and the whole thing has been voiced by Julian Barratt of The Mighty Boosh.

Needless to say, it’s a beautiful combination of sights and sounds, wonderfully animated and very engaging.

You shape the story

The Brandon Generator project combines Internet Explorer 9 and HTML5 to create a pretty smooth experience that is hard to define. It lies somewhere between film, animation, audio story and comic book and what’s more, it’s interactive.

The audience is invited to shape Brandon’s world by becoming an extension of the creative team by suggesting characters, plot, nemeses and even entire scenes. There are also mini challenges that help move the story along and, for the more eagle-eyed, hidden gems and secret ways to interact within each episode.

Already there is an option where you can draw your own character using an animated pen and paper on the site.

Edgar Wright, known for being able to capture the zeitgeist and cross genres, appears to be intrigued by the process and says:

“What interested me about this project was the chance to work with a mystery co-writer. So I created a character who is creatively stuck and continually looks for random interjections to inspire him. Rapidly it becomes clear that the people who can actually help are the people at home visiting the site. I like the idea of the world forming around Brandon and am excited to connect with people at home in a whole new way, creatively. It’s exciting to know that even though there’s an underlying narrative and set pieces in place, much of the plot is up for grabs. Internet Explorer and various other technical elements make the collaboration possible and the fans will make Brandon’s journey even more interesting.”

In Episode One, there are opportunities to leave messages on Brandon’s phone, sketch on his notepad, submit plot and character ideas on his laptop and listen to random messages on his Dictaphone. The site can be pinned to the task bar in IE9 on a PC and those who follow or interact with the story can get access to extras, video content and social media connections.

Tommy Lee Edwards is also excited by the new offering:

“This project combines all of my favourite things about working in film, games, animation and comics. It’s an ambitious idea to get so much input from fans and tell a story this way; I’m thrilled to be involved, especially working alongside Edgar. Bringing Brandon Generator to life with a filmmaker I hold in such high regard is an honour. A crazy challenging one, but an exciting treat for me.”

IE9’s Hunger Games site provides similarly slick functions for exploring a story but the artistic detail in this project feels as though it draws away from promotion and offers more of an immersive experience. For gaming IE9 has also broken boundaries for more fun with characters like the sweet-toothed Om Nom in Cut the Rope.

For those who still consider Explorer to be a tool for work, this project helps to promote IE9 as a creative outlet for both the audience and artists. Gabby Hegerty, Internet Explorer UK says:

“We always wanted to create something truly unique which brings together the best of the creative world and pushes the boundaries of IE9 and HTML5 with all the unique features of pinning, JumpLists and hardware acceleration to create an immersive and visually stunning experience to inspire our users.

Edgar and Tommy have thrown themselves into the project and explored the limits of what is currently possible. From the start, we knew that one of the toughest things would be bringing together a dream team with the creative and technical skills necessary to pull off such an ambitious project. Edgar has fantastic experience in crossing the boundaries between film, graphics and animation in his films, and Tommy Lee has a history of creating stunning illustrations across film, games and animation. Both are a perfect fit.”

It’s an interesting way to work with film and comic book artists and see how you can influence a big project. For those who are aspiring writers of comic books and film, this is also a great inspiration for how the future of artistic media could progress.

Take a look at the trailer and let us know what you think in the comments.