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Designing the Computer UIs In Movies 371

Posted by kdawson
from the film-over dept.
xandroid points out an NPR interview with Mark Coleran, who "...designs the fancy-but-fake graphics that flash across computers in the movies. He has worked on a laundry list of blockbusters: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Ultimatum, Children of Men, Mission Impossible III, and many more. He says a lot of the inspiration for computer screens comes from video games." The main point of these fake movie UIs is different than that of real UIs: to tell a story very quickly, not to reveal and enable function.
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Designing the Computer UIs In Movies

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  • Clever girl (Score:5, Funny)

    by paiute (550198) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @03:46PM (#30881276)

    Does he also make those fancy monitors that project what is on the screen out into the room and onto any passing dinosaur?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by paiute (550198)

      And his brother is the guy who makes every moving car which rear ends a parked car go up in the air.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Actually his brother is responsible for the 'override password' backdoor into every FBI/NSA computer system.

      • And his brother is the guy who makes every moving car which rear ends a parked car go up in the air.

        No, that's his cousin. His brother is the guy who makes every car that goes over a cliff in a movie burst into a spectacular explosion.

    • Re:Clever girl (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:13PM (#30881602) Journal

      Well I rather see some fancy things in movies. Movies generally never show exact true life anyway in any area. Why should they in computer.

      Life isn't a soap opera. Life isn't a love story. Life isn't about looking like Brad Pitt. Life isn't an action movie. You aren't Vin Diesel.

      But movies are entertainment. I rather see some fancy looking computer interface in a movie than watch gentoo compiling nano for 50 mins and then crashing to an unresolvable state that requires complete reinstall of the system.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Well I rather see some fancy things in movies. Movies generally never show exact true life anyway in any area. Why should they in computer.

        Life isn't a soap opera. Life isn't a love story. Life isn't about looking like Brad Pitt. Life isn't an action movie. You aren't Vin Diesel.

        But movies are entertainment. I rather see some fancy looking computer interface in a movie than watch gentoo compiling nano for 50 mins and then crashing to an unresolvable state that requires complete reinstall of the system.

        I've seen some pretty cool UIs in movies/shows/24 and wish someone would implement it.
        But we know the OSS guys can't ever agree on some fancy UI (superfluous) so we never get anything cool [compositing, Ribbon in Office->OpenOffice (yes I know some people find it annoying but a lot of people find it a lot faster at accomplishing most tasks)] till Microsoft does it first :/

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Yold (473518)

          Because designing a slick UI that actually does something better than a simple one is a very difficult task. Even worse, there will be an inevitable backlash from users, because most people don't want to learn anything new... sort of a "if it wasn't broke why the hell did you change it!?!?" mentality.

          • Re:Clever girl (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:02AM (#30885782)

            I just re-watched all three Bourne movies recently. What I love in movie/TV UIs is that they're apparently still stuck in the command line era. Nearly every episode of ALIAS, James Bond movies, etc. etc. people are slamming away at the keyboard like they're cybering with a rock-hard pants tent, but when's the last time you can remember someone using a mouse?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Hurricane78 (562437)

              Stuck?? CLI is not the past. CLI is the future. I bet you still think of DOS when you think of CLIs.

              Have you ever seen the power of the shell inside Maya?
              A real CLI and GUI are and do the same thing at the same time. And this is done perfectly in Maya. You can even drag a selected piece of code from the history/cli to your tool bar, to get a button.
              Also BASH plus the UNIX concept are what you use when you really use your computer.
              As opposed to just clicking on colorful clickables and using it like an applic

        • Re:Clever girl (Score:4, Informative)

          by Thinboy00 (1190815) <thinboy00 AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @06:19PM (#30882888) Journal

          compositing

          IIRC compiz is older than Aero (i.e. Vista etc.).

        • Re:Clever girl (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jacksonj04 (800021) <nick@nickjackson.me> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @09:49PM (#30884714) Homepage

          But we know the OSS guys can't ever agree on some fancy UI (superfluous)...

          Lets be honest here, the OSS guys can barely agree on which letter should appear if you press the "A" key, never mind before you introduce shift, ctrl, alt, option, meta, super or chording.

      • by DemonBeaver (1485573) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @05:23PM (#30882272)

        You aren't Vin Diesel.

        Unless he's on slashdot. Are you reading this, Vin?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 24, 2010 @05:27PM (#30882314)

        Well I rather see some fancy things in movies. Movies generally never show exact true life anyway in any area. Why should they in computer.

        Personally I liked how the character of Trinity used nmap to find a host with a vulnerable version of SSH (along with the SSHv1 CRC32 vulnerability). Nmap has actually been in a few movies:

        http://nmap.org/movies.html

        • by fugue (4373) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @07:46PM (#30883676) Homepage

          We all like to be part of an exclusive club. I thought it was great that Trinity used something I knew a little about and that most of the audience probably didn't. It made me feel like the movie was speaking to me personally (well, it was about the only thing in the movie that did; I recall walking out of that one). Neal Stephenson does the same thing all the time, and it's fun.

          I wonder if the way to make a movie appeal to a wide audience is to insert in-jokes and such for as many different demographics as possible. They don't have to be big, but I suspect it's better to make references that are lost on 95% of the audience and make the other 5% feel special than to blandify the movie, at least if you can keep the other 95% unaware that they missed something. Do that 20 times and you could make everyone feel special, singled out for a wink, valued.

          Or would it get old too fast?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by antek9 (305362)
          The dorama 'Bloody Monday' depicted a hacker that used nothing but the command line to enter real life hacker stuff, yet with a larger-than-life speed. As in, like, You've got ten seconds to hack into that remote computer, or this bomb around that person's neck will go off! Interestingly enough, instead of slapping a fancy UI on top of it all, they visualized the hacking effort for the unwashed masses by overlaying the fast-scrolling text with a falcon flying through empty corridors, and every gateway block
      • Re:Clever girl (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MobyDisk (75490) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @05:40PM (#30882488) Homepage

        Well-written and well-directed fool the viewer into thinking the events are plausible. The less the viewer must suspend their disbelief, the more enjoyable the movie, play, book, etc. For example: A director could use a real car in a scene. Or they could make the car out of two giant pieces of cardboard with painted-on wheels. Or they could use a real car, but spray paint it with the word "CAR" on the side and replace the steering wheel with a wagon wheel. But generally they don't do that - they use a car that is appropriate to the scene. They should do the same thing for ovens, sandwiches, furniture, and computers. It is a bit odd to see a modern, relatively intelligent scene, where the login screen has dancing lightning beams and lasers firing, and a voice that yells "Access Denied" - no computer actually does that.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Thinboy00 (1190815)

          It is a bit odd to see a modern, relatively intelligent scene, where the login screen has dancing lightning beams and lasers firing, and a voice that yells "Access Granted" - no computer actually does that.

          FTFY -- that's even more unreasonable.

      • Re:Clever girl (Score:5, Informative)

        by this great guy (922511) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @05:52PM (#30882626)

        Life isn't a soap opera. Life isn't a love story. Life isn't about looking like Brad Pitt. Life isn't an action movie. You aren't Vin Diesel.

        Hahaha... Yes I am.

        - Vin Diesel.

      • Re:Clever girl (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Maltheus (248271) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @08:50PM (#30884238)

        One of the reasons I like gentoo is that watching the compiler messages scroll up the screen makes it feel like a movie computer. They always have a window with messages scrolling quickly by. The true fancy computer interfaces reduce clutter and can look rather boring on (movie) screen.

    • by Orange Crush (934731) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:56PM (#30882006)
      I'm not sure I understand what you're referring to . . .enhance.
    • I am sure you have seen it, when the characters watch a security video of something you saw earlier and apparently security camera's are on dolly's, move about and cut automatic to new shots for the most exciting action...

      Although my worsed still is Jurassic Park, a time line underneath a live conversation...

  • Story? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @03:46PM (#30881278)

    The main point of these fake movie UIs is different than that of real UIs: to tell a story very quickly, not to reveal and enable function.

    And what story is that? That computers in the future are shiny and pretty if not outright magical?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ja'Achan (827610)
      The story of the movie of course. Most movies don't revolve around computers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by negRo_slim (636783)
        You're correct, in most movies Computers are just an effective crutch to keep the story going forward.
        • Re:Story? (Score:5, Funny)

          by nedlohs (1335013) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:11PM (#30881564)

          Everything in a movie is just a "crutch" to keep the story going forward.

          Well for those movies that have stories. In some everything is a "crutch" to enable them to show off pretty CGI, and in others everything is a "crutch" to enable to show off various body parts of the cast.

          • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by khasim (1285)

            Not "why is everything a crutch to the story" but "why does the story NEED to rely upon fantasy crutches".

            Why did the writer write the story so that it NEEDED a fantasy UI for a computer? Why not some other crutch? One that is more realistic?

            The answer is, of course, simple. The writers don't know anything except how to get a job writing for Hollywood. Therefore, ANYTHING that they put in the story will be their personal interpretation of systems that they probably only know through other Hollywood movies w

        • by gbutler69 (910166) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:28PM (#30881746) Homepage
          Evil Guy: You will now wire 1 gazillion dollars to my account in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.
          Noob: Ok, whatever you say, >
          Evil Guy: I have won! I am a Gazillionaire! There is nothing you can do to stop me now
          Noob: Oh, Nooooooooo! Release my daughter/wife/boyfriend!
          Evil Guy: I have the money already, I'll just shoot them instead
          Noob: No, I'll come crashing through the wall in a hail of bullets and stop you

          *** Meanwhile, back in the real world! ***
          Evil Guy: Send me the money...blah blah blah.
          Actual Real Person: OK, here you go ... >
          Evil Guy: I have the money now, you get nothing
          Actual Real Person (with FBI/Interpol agent): No, you have nothing but an entry on a computer screen. Gov't just froze those Assets and you don't even know it. Now, where is my daughter/wife/boyfriend whatever.

          Negotiation begins...
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:27PM (#30881744) Journal
      The difference between movie UIs and real UIs is actually, in many respects, pretty similar to the difference between movie plots and real life (lack of) plots.

      Real UIs always have a strongly generic character, because they are usually rather multipurpose(and even the fairly strongly single-purpose ones, industrial inventory systems and such, are often just special cases of horribly general enterprise stacks, hacked together by hacks for economic reasons). They have to expose a great many of the system's features because they have no way of knowing which ones the user is going to want. Movie UIs can be highly specific, without any visible provision for doing anything other than what is happening at that very moment; because they exist only for the purposes of the story. A particularly driven production team might want to make them look more generic, just to enhance the verisimilitude of the world by making it seem less wrapped around the story; but that is very much optional.

      This is analogous to how movie plots work. In a movie, everything that happens, every character who exists, all accidents of fate, and so forth, is there by design, in order to advance the plot. There might be red herrrings, specifically to throw the audience off, or generic extras, to make things look realistic; but everything that matters exists and acts because it serves the plot. In real life, things just exist, probabilities are settled by chance. Only teleologists and the mentally ill are aware of a grand design being served.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Jarik C-Bol (894741)
        you make some good points, but occasionally, they go to far into the realm of weird and outrageous computer interfaces. *cough*swordfish*cough*
        a friend of mine tried typing the way they did in swordfish. Jammed all his fingers in about 10 seconds.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        everything that matters exists and acts because it serves the plot.

        Everything that matters, right.

        So what would be the problem with showing an actual ssh "access denied" or "someone is doing something nasty" message? Or with using real security-related tools like netcat and iptables? I mean, sure, most of the screen is going to be irrelevant, but I'm sure the actors are going to be able to tell you what's going on, and it's still throwing in a bunch of "red herrings" or "generic extras" in the UI, still everything that matters serves the plot.

        • by Albanach (527650)

          Or with using real security-related tools like netcat and iptables?

          You mean like in The Matrix?

          http://nmap.org/images/matrix/matrix-hack-screen2.png [nmap.org]

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @03:47PM (#30881288) Homepage
    This wouldn't be a problem but it is part of a general tendency in Hollywood to favor looks cool and quickly understandable over accurate. This is understandable. But, it does lead to serious problems. This has lead for example to the general problem(called the CSI effect http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSI_effect [wikipedia.org] after the television show) that juries now often have ideas about what forensic scientists can do that have little to do with reality. This also happens simply with less knowledgable people interacting with computers. And the subject of this interview is apparently to blame. I have had some experience helping older people with computers where they seem genuinely confused about what computers can do, or what you can use computers to do. And when they have major misconceptions the misconceptions inevitably are of a form that one would get from seeing a TV show or movie.
    • Re:Not to blame (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lyinhart (1352173) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:00PM (#30881446)
      He's not the guy to blame for people's misconceptions regarding computers. He's just doing his job and making stuff look pretty. Blaming him would be like blaming some make up guy for making Hollywood starlets set an impossibly high bar for beauty. Or script writers for giving people misconceptions about how life works. Rather, it's the failing of the educational system for not adequately educating people regarding technology, which still remains a set of magic boxes for the lay man.
      • by Gerafix (1028986)
        Sounds like a failure of proper parenting to me.
        • by Lost Race (681080)
          How are parenting and education supposed to defeat the misconceptions older people get from bad TV?
      • by k.a.f. (168896)

        He's not the guy to blame for people's misconceptions regarding computers. He's just doing his job and making stuff look pretty. Blaming him would be like blaming some make up guy for making Hollywood starlets set an impossibly high bar for beauty. Or script writers for giving people misconceptions about how life works.

        In other words, it would be quite appropriate.

    • by WoRLoKKeD (1142351) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:00PM (#30881450)

      Personally, I'd say this is more of a problem with the inability of people to seperate reality from fantasy than any fault on the part of Mark Coleran and similar people. Aren't these people the same people who tell their children that they shouldn't believe everything they see on TV?

      Besides, this guy has done one major thing, if nothing else. Apparently he, or others in his line of work are the ones to thank for the brilliant game that is Uplink coming into existence.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nedlohs (1335013)

      So because some people are stupid and can't distinguish fantasy from reality we should stop with the fantasy?

      You're all for banning violent video games too, right?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:26PM (#30881724)

      My sister took a photo of a bald eagle with her cellphone. She mailed it to me and asked if I could "enhance it" for her.
      If she hadn't told me what it was I'd have had no idea what I was even looking at. Damn you CSI. Damn you.

      • by capnkr (1153623) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @07:47PM (#30883686)
        You boned that one, pal. Any decent brother would have known what to do...

        You should have found a similar perspective eagle picture online, 'enhanced' it with GIMP/PS to make it as close as possible to what she shot, and send it back at a minimum 1024 res and high color, thereby perpetuating the myth that you are indeed a Computer God.

        Kids these days, can't see opportunity even when it's smacking 'em in the face...

        ;)
    • Favor quickly understandable over accurate. This is understandable.

      I see what you did there.

      Personally I find the family situations the most...interesting.
      Gorgeous cut child, never misbehaves, always does what you tell him.

      We attribute positive character traits to attractive people more than we do non-attractive people.
      Personally I just find looking at fat/ugly people (especially women) to be unsettling. I get this uncanny, clammy feeling all over. Bleck.
      So I don't mind it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Don't forget, thanks to Hollywood people might be:
      • Thinking American students must be terrible at passing exams, since they are still in high school at the age of 27 (Glee) or more (90210, Buffy etc.)
      • Not buying American cars, because if you so much as scratch them at 10 miles per hour, they will explode in a huge fireball. Or is that just Ford?
      • Security cameras - "enhance, enhance, rotate" (in 3d to get the view from behind the obstruction!)
      • Every single computer is made by Sony or Apple.
      • Microsoft Window
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by elmartinos (228710)
  • LCARS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malicious (567158) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @03:51PM (#30881346)
    Movie/TV interface design peaked with LCARS.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      True.

      The newfangled action UI's like the ones in TFA look like toy packaging. [screenrant.com]
    • by hitmark (640295)

      tho, the description of lcars can basically be atm's with touch screens, or maybe a touchscreen variation on a MFD...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014)

      I have to agree. The LCARS mockups are an outstanding sci-fi user interface.

      Although they doesn't really stand up to close scrutiny, they look like something that has been designed for a recognizable task according to design and user interface principles that are familiar, although extrapolated to an astonishing degree. LCARS seems to *guide* its users to information they are seeking, using negative space and alignment to cluster information into logical groupings which the users evidently find easy to na

  • by Anonymous Coward
    All these fake OS in various movies, from Wargames to Jurassic Park to Star Trek, and beyond, are all powered by Ninnle Linux. It's so flexible, it can be made to look like any other OS, not to mention something completely different. Ninnle is the way of the future!
  • by argent (18001) <peterNO@SPAMslashdot.2006.taronga.com> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @03:55PM (#30881390) Homepage Journal

    The Viewer Friendly Interface [tvtropes.org] trope was (surprisingly) largely averted in the Matrix where only a little Hollywood was wrapped around an almost unmodified nmap and sshnuke [nmap.org].

  • Putting a slideshow into a flash movie is unnecessary and irritating. To get larger images I need to use the full screen option when the images take up less than half my screen area.

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:00PM (#30881448)
    As a IT guy I hate being asked by a lay person "Do you understand what he's doing on that screen?" when we're watching some movie or TV show with a completely fake UI on some computer.
  • by Locutus (9039) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:02PM (#30881462)
    In the 90s, with the OO( Object Oriented ) Workplace Shell on OS/2, a company called Stardock Systems came up with a great desktop enhancing package( Object Desktop ) which I'd heard was also being used to build screens for the film industry. It really made an OS/2 desktop pop and back then, only the NextStep UI can close to the default WPS. I don't think anything came close to what Stardock did with the WPS using their desktop extension Object Desktop.

    The article could have went into what they use and what they've used. It was pretty shallow without that info IMO.

    LoB
  • by CranberryKing (776846) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:03PM (#30881474)
    I imagine how tough if would be to make a scene interesting if they showed Kevin Mitnik typing into a korn shell.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:03PM (#30881478)

    This for the ones who think Movie-OS interfaces are cool and slick looking: They're not efficient, they're not sensible, they are not intuitive and most of all, they're not useable.

    I often run into people who ask me "Why isn't this or that program designed like that one in this or that movie". Because it would not be usable. A few examples how Movie-OS interfaces are very, very poorly designed, from a usability point of view.

    1) They're slow. Cue CSI fingerprint patching program. The program displays every single failed compare in quick flash forward display. Pulling the whole dataset from the database and rendering it takes time. This time is wasted. You would not want your program to do that.

    2) Hard to reach buttons. Unfortunately, Knight Rider is the only example that comes to my mind right now, but it's true for far too many movies. Buttons located overhead, out of reach, sometimes requiring the user/pilot to stop doing whatever he is doing right now, move his hands and punch a minuscle button somewhere awkward. Yes, it looks cool, but it's about as sensible as putting the gear stick behind the driver's seat.

    3) 100" see through displays. Again CSI (but it's made its way into various other movies by now). Yes, we all want bigger displays. Bigger is better. But there's a limit to better. Especially if, as in CSI, the additional space is not used to present more information but just to display the information in larger font or to fill it with more pointless gimmicky pictures. The angle your eye can see sharp in and can easily catch is very tiny. The diameter of the screen has to be viewable by moving your eyes alone and without strain, or it can just as well be accessible by scrolling.

    4) Lifted-hands interface. Lacking a better term I dubbed it that: An interface that does not allow your hand to rest but requires you to lift them and reach. First of all, it's inaccurate. You are moving your hand from your shoulder instead of your wrist, which does limit your accuracy quite a bit. It's straining and tiring. Especially when you're supposed to hit tiny icons, this is magnitudes worse than traditional input.

    5) Touch input. While we're at it. Touch input becomes so popular in cellphones that EVERYTHING has to be touch input now. In case you didn't notice: It's popular because you have the input device in your palm. Now put it upright like a computer screen and tell me how convenient, comfortable or accurate it is. Not to mention that you're covering the info you try to access with your fingers, which means that you will have to lift your hand to see what you're doing. It's comfortable for quick input, but not for constant use.

    Basically, Movie-OS interfaces look cool and dramatic, and that's what they're good for. They are not good for use.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      "5) Touch input. While we're at it. Touch input becomes so popular in cellphones that EVERYTHING has to be touch input now. In case you didn't notice: It's popular because you have the input device in your palm. Now put it upright like a computer screen and tell me how convenient, comfortable or accurate it is. Not to mention that you're covering the info you try to access with your fingers, which means that you will have to lift your hand to see what you're doing. It's comfortable for quick input, but not

    • Reach to your screen to close this window: Oops, data obscured.

      Solution? Put the controls BELOW the data.

      Different inputs require different UI designs.

  • by bobdotorg (598873) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:04PM (#30881486)

    I remember being slightly irked by computer scenes in 80's movies: while showing a person typing command line text, the displayed text was revealed at a constant rate, probably about that of a 150 baud modem. The appearance is vastly different than that of someone actually typing.

    Same with early attempts at showing GUI use - constant, linear movements of the cursor.

    I suspect that the problem came from lack of the computer / tech equivalent of a 'sound guy'. No way would a sound engineer allow an otherwise well-made movie to be released with out of sync, or unnatural spoken word.

  • by tangent3 (449222) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:05PM (#30881496)

    Read the Movie OS arc at userfriendly.org, starting here: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20010111 [userfriendly.org]

  • Love how Sandra Bullock's Driver's License fades out of existence [youtube.com].

  • I liked the one scene in Avatar where a scientist slides a finger across a 3D display to a mobile device to transfer over the viewable data. Now that's mobile computing. I can see that technology being developed. If any company can develop that technology, it'll probably be Apple.
    • by Scutter (18425)

      I liked the one scene in Avatar where a scientist slides a finger across a 3D display to a mobile device to transfer over the viewable data. Now that's mobile computing. I can see that technology being developed. If any company can develop that technology, it'll probably be Apple.

      Microsoft Surface does this. Here's a demo video from 2007. It's kind of long, but there's a section where the user sets a camera and a phone on the table and passes information between the two just by swiping.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlZxuqjJDgk [youtube.com]

    • I liked the one scene in Avatar where a scientist slides a finger across a 3D display to a mobile device to transfer over the viewable data.

      Amen. That's exactly how a touch interface ought to work. Indeed, it's such a good idea that variations have already appeared in other films, including Quantum of Solace (2008) [posterous.com] and even Minority Report (2002) [youtube.com].

  • they look absurd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaveGod (703167) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:12PM (#30881574)

    Usually when I see one of these computer screens the absurdity is quite distracting - often because it looks like a computer game and not software being used by highly skilled professionals at work. Actually that's a bit unfair, most games' UI is and looks much more usable. It doesn't help when the script calls for software that apparently comes with a button simply labelled "magically solve your problem".

  • I *WANT* a display that works like the ones in the movies. Fast updates, screen wipes, keyboard and mouse functionality fully integrated, projection capability, contextually and dramatically appropriate sound effects. And of course, spark effects as appropriate.

  • Half the time they need to get into someone's computer and you get a glimpse of it running, it's Linux.

    "Hey, I recognize that directory structure..."

  • by zebslash (1107957) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:26PM (#30881722)

    The movie Antitrust was pretty realistic and accurate. The computer interface that was shown was Gnome. Even the lines of code that were displayed had been borrowed from Open source projects. Maybe that is because the producers listen to professional consultant (among which there was de Icaza). I am sure there are other examples of good UI, but indeed they are a minority.

  • It annoys me when they sit down to a PC and the close up is clearly a Mac OS. (Sometimes the opposite happens, but not as often). I recall this in "The Net" and in the American version of "La Femme Nakita" called "Point of No Return" with Bridget Fonda. I would prefer a "made up UI".
  • We had a thread on Ubuntuforums [ubuntuforums.org] dedicated to this topic. I think we concluded that tdfsb [determinate.net] is awesome.
  • by nudicle (652327) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:28PM (#30881758)
    It's a UNIX system! I know this!
  • UI doesn't matter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dvh.tosomja (1235032) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:31PM (#30881784)

    UI doesn't matter, but unlimited zoom must be there!

  • For example, I recently say "Pandorum". And they're suddenly getting data on Earth from a probe in another star system that landed 6 days ago, but that'd take at least 4+ years at lightspeed. The plot's pacing just doesn't have time for realism. You can either sit back and enjoy or irritate yourself over such things, I prefer to enjoy the movie. I'm sure doctors are shaking their heads at all the "medicine" happening in movies too. Or to go back to the classics, take Star Trek and the computer that's absurd

    • I just watched it a couple of nights ago. I thought that the broadcast from Earth had happened years before. Maybe I wasn't watching it too closely, because on otherwise interesting movie was filled with pointless zombies who seemed to serve no useful purpose other than to be scary at the appropriate moments.

  • The hero's position look remarkably like that of a belly gunner of a B-17. The UI should consist of two grids of 4 squares by 4 squares projected and rotated about. And the enemy imperial fighters should appear in a jerky 2D cartoons seen in space invader. The gun barrels firing laser should recoil like 15inch naval guns firing one ton projectiles. That is the coolest UI evar!
  • by AlgorithMan (937244) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @06:11PM (#30882806) Homepage
    So you obviously never hacked using the ultimate hacker tool uplink [introversion.co.uk]. You should try! there you see how realistic most movies are, unlike most of the hacking tools YOU lamers use...
  • by gabebillings (1001269) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @06:43PM (#30883074)

    If you watch TV or movies, you see this with virtually any subject you could imagine. What it boils down to is that generally the people making the content need to dumb down everything to what Joe Average expects to see. If you've got greater-than-average knowledge of any field, chances are when you see people doing it on TV they're fucking something up.

    We've already heard countless examples of computer GUIs. How about medicine? I was a paramedic, and my wife is an ER doc, and both of us cringe every time we see someone onscreen get a giant needle stabbed into their chest. Ever since Uma got the treatment in Pulp Fiction (maybe there were earlier ones, but that's the first time I remember seeing it) this is a great little dramatic moment that they love to stick into films and TV shows. In real life drugs go into a vein and even if the heart isn't going you can circulate with a little CPR. Jamming giant needles into the heart is just silly.

    And while we're on the subject, all the CPR I see onscreen is shit. The last time I was certified was 2005 so I might be out of date, but last I checked we were at 30:2 compression/breath ratio at a rate of about 100 compressions per minute. Our memory aid was that we could compress to the tune of Queen's 'Another One Bites the Dust' (funny, I know) and that would get us pretty close. On TV it's way too slow, not to mention pretty rare that 30 seconds of CPR will magically revive someone without the addition of a defibrillator and lots of drugs.

    I don't know dick about car repair, but I know what to do if I'm in a movie. I ask the hot chick on the side of the road to pop the hood, I stick my head in there, jiggle a few wires, then say, "Try it now." Then it'll start right up. Or possibly blow up, depending on the movie. Oh, and if you need to hotwire a car, you just yank that bundle of wires out from under the dash and tap a couple of them together until it sparks.

    How about firearms? Again, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure when you shoot someone with a 9mm it won't knock them off their feet and throw their body 10 feet backwards through a plate glass window. But it sure looks nifty.

    General electronics? It doesn't really matter what you're doing here; defusing a bomb, fixing a broken radio, breaking into a vault, etc. You just open up whatever device you're dealing with, connect a few jumpers with alligator clips on the end, clip another wire with a set of cutters and poof, you're golden. Just don't cut the green wire. Or was it the blue wire?

    I'm sure most people could come up with similar things they see all the time, these are just a few of the ones that I notice. I probably gloss over lots more simply because for those subjects, I am the Joe Average and whatever they're doing looks totally plausible to me even though someone somewhere is gnashing their teeth over it.

  • APPLE ][ (Score:3, Interesting)

    by russotto (537200) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @07:28PM (#30883482) Journal

    Quite a number of movies and TV shows use Apple ][ assembler dumps for various computer-related activities; I imagine the intent in those cases is to present something which looks both cryptic and meaningful.

Programmers do it bit by bit.

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