Cutting Room - An Object Based Media Authoring Tool for Non-Technical Users

Cutting Room is a tool for building rich interactive narratives, without the need for specialist technical knowledge.

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Object Based Media (OBM) is a methodology for creating non-linear, interactive, and context aware media and was coined by BBC R&D in the early 2000s to describe a developing body of work from various contributors. Our research has focused on the development of narrative experiences and new forms of non-linear storytelling. OBM is designed on the principle of dividing media into fragments, which we call Narrative Objects, which are compiled together at viewing time based on conditions devised by the production’s creators. These Narrative Objects can vary from single audio-visual files, to multiple layers of visual material that are composited as needed, to commands to external hardware such as theatrical effects or smart devices. The conditions for aggregation at viewing time can be as simple as the classic A/B choice from the viewer, or as complex as a series of logical constraints based on information pulled from various internet sources.

Deciding upon the basic narrative objects and correctly capturing the narrative logic of possible productions can be a significant bottleneck in developing the OBM format. Previous efforts relied on specialist software developers working with creatives as part of the production process; the use of complex scripting languages; or both. Cutting Room seeks to address this shortcoming, by presenting an OBM development environment that is directly accessible by creative producers, powerful in its means of capturing narrative logics, and easy to use. Extending the Unity game development environment, Cutting Room allows non-technical users to create complex OBM narratives through a set of predefined narrative structures which could be combined and recombined to any level of depth accessible through a visual interface; while power users can extend components using Unity’s scripting system.
Currently in its final stages of development, Cutting Room has already been employed in a creation of a number of interactive productions such as What is Love? and Stepping Through.

John Gray; Álvaro Cáceres; Andrew Walter


John Gray is a software engineer working within Digital Creativity Labs where his main focus is to assist with the creation and development of prototypes to help further research currently being undertaken, as well as assisting to implement the findings of past research to create new and innovative software products.

Álvaro Cáceres is a frontend developer and former associate lecturer in Interactive Media at the University of York. His current work with Digital Creativity Labs involves providing visual and interaction designs to integrate Cutting Room within Unity, and to make it easy to use for creative professionals.

Andrew Walter is a research associate in interactive storytelling working at the Digital Creativity Labs, where he has been involved in creating tools for OBM authoring. His main interest is in extending interactive narratives into physical spaces.