When you're a geek, and you watch movies (or TV, for that matter), you notice some things that the general public wouldn't usually catch. Namely, you notice the electronic media that people in movies use. Their computers, their video games, their PDAs, and so on.

Hollywoodware comes in two main varities. Real, and fake. Obviously, you could probably guess what each one is. Real Hollywoodware is actual stuff that exists in real life, but looks so cool and nifty that the movie producers decided it would look good on the silver screen. Remember the file browser in Jurassic Park? That was real. It's not just computers, either. Whenever video games are protrayed in movies, they tend to be simplistic Pac-Man variants with the obligatory "DONK DONK DONK" sound effects. But some movies use more contemporary games. Did you notice some kids playing Final Fantasy VIII in Charlie's Angels?

Fake Hollywoodware is some interface that is blatantly constructed solely for use in that flick, and probably is just a running graphics presentation rather than a functional application. Remember the Uploading Virus screen on Jeff Goldblum's Powerbook in Indepence Day? Or the crawling green symbols of the The Matrix? TV, both commercials and shows, are notorious for using fake Hollywoodware. B-list shows like The Lone Gunmen always have super-cool apps that can map out US cities and pinpoint addresses and private info in a matter of seconds. In fairness to this show, however, I did once see real IP addresses on their screen.

Now, I can understand a futuristic movie using some futuristic computer interface, but c'mon, don't stick some candy-coated never-before-seen program in a movie that takes place right now. Or else all the geeks in the audience will just snicker and remark about how "that's definitely not real."

I'd be interested to know the behind-the-scenes aspect of Hollywoodware. Who creates the fake stuff? Who decides which real stuff to use? Do they use Macromedia Flash to create those cool dohickys? Now, that would be a cool job.

(See also MovieOS)

(This is mostly based on what I learned from discussions in Slashdot...)

The Hollywoodware in these days are usually created using programs like Macromedia's Director. In computer program design world the programs shown in movies might be called "computerized paper prototypes".

The reason behind this is that while you could in theory use real applications and teach the actors to use the programs, they would not work too reliably.

For instance, imagine using a web browser when cameras are rolling.

Actor: (types in the URL and hits Enter)... (waits some moments) (somewhat out-of-character:) "The damn site is slow again..."

Director: "Okay... CUT! Everybody, let's try again. What is it, Take 32?..."

...just what happens with my 'net connections every day, all the way from 28.8k modem to DSL... Realism, yes, but the movies potray the perfect world where everything works just fine. =)

No, what the art creators want is apps that work just fine and the actors only need to press buttons (or whatever) to get to the next part of the "multimedia show".

Now, when computers don't work they tend to get stressing (as everyone has probably proven - hugely non-working programs tick me off, no matter what OS I'm using); this sort of faking makes shooting the film much more pleasant for everybody.


Now, what the directors and producers usually want is "something that looks cool". If there's a real application or widget that looks surprisingly cool, they'll use those usually as they are. If it doesn't, they will want something fake that looks cool. (Example: IIRC, the producers of The Saint really wanted to show Nokia 9000 Communicator because they saw it and thought that was a really futuristic and cool-looking widget (which it was, at the time - and of course, perharps Nokia's "cooperation" helped to come to that conclusion too)... the application shown in it was faked, though, because the apps that come with it are sort of boring again.)

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