Whilst most self respecting Londoners were spending their Friday night slumped over a bar, or staggering across The Strand in search of something fried and calorie heavy to satisfy their alcohol fuelled appetite, there was something rather bizarre occurring beneath the hectic evening streets of London.
Deep within the impressive catacombs of the RSA Vaults, Sky Movies were promoting their latest venture into digital media – Sky Movies Go. For those who have escaped the heavy handed marketing of the UK’s largest satellite television provider, Sky Movies Go basically equates to Sky subscribers being able to watch their favourite shows on the go through their web enabled, portable devices (IPads and similarly unnecessary but hugely desirable tablets). To mark the occasion and coincide with the impending Halloween festivities, there was a special screening of Gore Verbinsky’s The Ring (sadly not the Nakata original). The film was screening on Sky Movies at midnight, with audience members at the vaults being plugged into IPads and collectively sharing the same viewing experience – streaming the movie simultaneously whilst listening through headphones.
The venue itself (normally used for wedding functions and other such events) was transformed into a nightmarish mental asylum, complete with actors portraying the catatonic inmates and other numerous peripheral characters from this iconic J-horror. Set in almost complete darkness, the only light available to assist the guests find their way came from numerous televisions, stacked high and playing nothing but static (except for a few eerie snippets from the film’s possessed video tape) – perhaps a well thought out metaphor for the impending death of terrestrial television (but most likely just a lucky coincidence).
When midnight struck the film began and much like those ‘silent discos’ where people dance to their own MP3 players, everyone in the room was collectively immersed into their own private screening. Some various technical problems stunted the proceedings, with a flurry of assistance franticly exchanging Ipads which had failed to effectively co-0pperate, however, as soon as everyone was successfully set-up the film began. Whilst an interesting experience, the nights entertainment didn’t come from the movie, or in fact the ensemble of struggling actors understandably latching onto a easy pay cheque but the reaction of the various audience members. Headphones have the unfortunate side effect of the person wearing them becoming unable to control the volume of their speech, resulting in every laugh and scream becoming amplified far beyond the normal acceptable decibel level. Within the lofty bowls of the RSA vaults the booming echo of each horror induced scream resonated through the otherwise silent halls, culminating in a jovial yet mildly unnerving experience.
Whilst a noticeable lag in the streams buffering somewhat hampered the viewing experience it was clear from the evenings events that whilst in no way perfect, digital streaming is slowly becoming the future of television broadcasting.