Film Craft in User Interface Design

Chuck Clanton, Aratar

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University November 11, 1992


Why study film for ideas about user interface design? Like user interface designers, the filmmakers' challenge is to engage us in a world of their making, while hiding the technical apparatus. They are masters at using pictures and sounds to communicate, entertain, and manipulate our feelings and sense of space and time. Film craft is divided into story, production values, camera/composition, and editing. Each has much to offer the user interface designer. This talk presents a selection of techniques relevant to time, off-screen space, and animation in user interfaces. Specific techniques are illustrated by juxtaposing video clips from films with clips from user interfaces. Bring your own popcorn.


Dr. Clanton consults in the design of graphical user interfaces. His research background includes perceptual and cognitive psychology at Harvard, neurosciences at UCSF Medical School, and computers and psychology at Stanford. He has exploited insights from film and animation in his designs for a number of years.


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