Brain Controlled Movies: Change Movies With Your Mind While You Watch Them

Do you want to watch brain controlled movies? Then go to Nottingham, England.

Heard of The Moment?


It is a move where the viewer (that is, you) play as the director of the movie.

The Moment will be brought to you by Richard Ramchurn.

We’ll talk more about who he is and where does he come from.

For now, you need to know that movies like The Moment are different in the sense that the viewers have the ability to direct the film with the help of nothing but their brainwaves.

Generally speaking, when someone talks about watching a movie or a TV series, it means to just sit back on a couch and relax while having one’s eyes trained directly on the screen.

Sooner or later, usually after a couple of hours, the story unfolds and finishes.

This experience is nowhere near to the kind of experience viewers can expect while watching the latest films from producers such as Richard Ramchurn.

Let’s get to the part where we tell you who Richard Ramchurn is and what does he do.

Richard works at the University of Nottingham (based in Nottingham) in England as a graduate student.

He is a director.

And also an artist.

Richard has spent more than a couple of years in order to create films which viewers have the option of controlling with nothing but their minds.

All that the users have to do is put on a special headset.

The headset will cost around $100 though.

But this is no ordinary headset.

It is a headset that has the ability to detect the viewer’s brain electrical activity.

More specifically, the headset is an EEG headset.

With this kind of an EEG headset, users will find that every time they watch Richard Ramchurn movies, they will experience different animations, audio, and scenes.

Actually, all these changes will depend on the meanderings of the user’s brain (or mind).

The Moment, is Richard’s latest movie.

It is a full 27-minute avant-garde tale.


Needless to say, Richard calls his latest work as The Moment which should not come as a surprise to anyone who has read more about Richard’s works.

What is the new and experimental movie about?

Well, it is about a dark future.

In other words, the movie tries to explore a dark feature where computer-brain user interfaces have become the norm.

Of course, the movie isn’t finished yet.

But Richard will finish it very soon.

And while Richard is finishing up The Moment’s editing work, readers should also know he has actually started to screen his latest work, The Moment, with the help of a small trailer in Nottingham.

The arrangements allow six to nine viewers to just sit and finish The Moment in a single session.

This is also a good time to mention that one of the viewers can control Richard’s The Moment.

Other viewers will have to do with just observing what is happening in the movie.

As for the future, Richard has made plans to show The Moment at a select film festival come June in Sheffield, England.

The headset that users have to put on in order to watch The Moment goes by the name of NeuroSky MindWave.

If users are wearing it while they are watching Richard’s The Moment, then the device will start to track the user’s attention level.

How will it do that exactly?

It will do that by taking measurements of various electrical activity that occurs within a specific frequency range which some believe corresponds to qualities such as attentiveness.

With that said, readers should note that experts in the field have some doubts about how headset devices such as these are able to accurately do such type of brain activity tracking.

Nevertheless, the devices continually compute the user’s score.

Then the device sends the score to a laptop using wireless technology.

After that, Richard’s proprietary and purpose-built software makes use of the score in order to alter the scenes of The Moment via editing.

The software also modifies the flow of The Moment’s background music.

It accomplishes many other things that we won’t mention here.

But users should know that they will not have to move a single muscle while Richard’s software makes all those changes.

Since there are a lot of changes happening to the same film on the fly, this obviously excites Richard a lot.

The other thing that excites him a lot is to come up with solutions on how to get all of this to properly work.

But according to Richard, the experience goes beyond just that.


The technology Richard uses does allow viewers of the film to essentially edit his film directly.

They can do it either by responding in a natural manner to whatever is happening on the screen or by consciously thinking about the film that they are watching.

But Richard’s films (or the whole setup rather) manage to create a kind of feedback loop that works both ways.

To put it in simpler terms, Richard’s film would change because of the way the user would feel while watching the film and the way the user would feel would change because of the changes in Richard’s film.

According to Richard, the film would almost become a part of the whole system of the user’s mind.

The Beginnings of BCI


Richard Ramchurn is 39 years old.

Why do we mention that?

We mention that to let users know that he has spent a lot of years in making different kinds of music videos, documentaries, and short films.

Throughout this time, he has experimented with a lot of ways in order to incorporate various kinds of technologies into the work he has produced.

Richard began to toy with the new idea of using BCI (or brain-computer interface) for one of his films back in the year 2013.

The year 2013 actually represented the first time Richard tried to use a NeuroSky headset for his film.

Ultimately though, Richard ended up using the headset to assist his efforts in making the first film that would make use of brain-controlled technologies.

In the next two years (that is 2014 and 2015) Richard used it to give form to his film called The

Disadvantages of Time Travel.

The Disadvantages of Time Travel had a more abstract theme to it than Richard’s latest work The Moment.

That film kept on flitting between the movie’s main character’s reality and dream state.

Richard used the NeuroSky headset to monitor the way the user blinked from time to time in order to figure out the perfect time to cut from a given shot to another given shot.

Moreover, the headset also monitored the viewer’s meditation and attention in order to determine how and when to switch between the main character’s real-life and fantasy modes.

The device did that by taking a look at another (and different) range of brainwave frequencies.

These brainwave frequencies were actually frequencies that the headset> had the capability to not only log but also score.

Taking another look back at that project, Richard recently mentioned that The Disadvantages of Time Travel, as a BCI movie, perhaps kept things a bit too buy.

The problem, according to Richard, on a blinking-based brain-controlled interface was that it actually managed to remove viewers from the film’s interactive experience.

How exactly did it do that?

Well, it made viewers of the film more aware of their own physiological state.

When a reporter viewed The Disadvantages of Time Travel (more specifically the director’s cut), the version that Richard manipulated by watching the film himself, the reporter quickly came to the conclusion that The Disadvantages of Time Travel did demand a bit too much from the viewer to watch it.

Possibilities into the Trillions

Richard Ramchurn learned a lot from his previous BCI films.

That is the reason why he chose to drop the blinking-based modifications in favor of making use of attention data for his latest film, The Moment.

The user’s attention data, according to one report, has the tendency to rise and fall pretty similar to a sine wave as the user’s focus continuously shifts.

Eventually though, it ebbs about every six or seven seconds.

With this information in hand, Richard used the related natural dips in order to form a signal which would instruct The Moment to actually cut to a different/new shot.

The Moment, Richard’s latest film, manages to switch back and forth between different narrative threads.

The film has a total of three narrative threads.

And at any given time, it chooses two to alternate between.

The three narrative threads, in Richard’s movie, basically follow three characters.

Throughout the duration of the film, these three main characters interact with each other.

Mind-directed modifications mean that Richard’s new movie has a lot of possibilities in terms of what the user sees.

According to Richard, these possibilities means that theoretically speaking there are close to a 101 trillion various different editions of his film that any one particular user could experience.

How does Richard make all these different variations possible in just a 27-minute movie?

Well, in order to successfully execute all these changes, Richard “only” had to create about three times the amount of footage that he would use on a normal project.

Moreover, he also gathered about six times the amount of audio he would utilize for a normal movie.

So do you have to go to the United Kingdom in order to experience the film?

Well, for the most part, YES.

But Richard did send one reporter the next best thing:

A total of two versions (or recordings) of his latest film The Moment that two different people controlled.

So how different is a given version from another version as far as Richard’s movies go?


Well, a reporter felt that the differences, for the most part, were rather subtle.

They came in the form of variations in the animation and background music which were interspersed between various different shots of the actors (that is, real-life actors).

With that said, the reporter also mentioned that the two versions had a few pretty clear differences as well.

For example, one recording of The Moment allowed the viewer to have a peek at a given notebook that belonged to the main character.

The main character wrote and drew in the notebook.

The same version also included extra dialogue which helped the movie to flesh out the main story just a bit more.

From an overall perspective, the reporter found the effect, of viewing a movie whose trajectory two previous viewers had controlled, to be compelling and at the same time strange.

When watching a movie like this one has to wonder what specific changes that the viewers of the film did or did not have control over.

Moreover, one also has to think about how much did the previous viewers of the movie thought about the changes that affected the movie while they actually watched the movie for the first time.

Perhaps the most important question is that how do the viewers of the movie can make sure that the changes they saw were actually the ones that they caused.

Did they control everything they saw or very little?

Or nothing?

A report put forward such questions to a computer science professor at the University of Nottingham, Steve Benford who also happened to be Richard’s advisor.

Steve had no problems in agreeing that the viewers, as far as The Disadvantages of Time Travel went, knew that their blinks had actually lined up with that film’s cuts.

But with The Moment, the viewer’s actual role in directing the movie with their brain seemed a bit fuzzier.

Benford also explained that, in the end, Richard’s movies were interactive art.

And that means users won’t get to know what is happening all the time.

The best that viewers of interactive art can do is to interpret the things that are happening in the movie.

Moreover, it is also the choice of the artist behind the interactive art of how much and to what extent he/she wants to make the interactive content less or more explicit.

The Participation of the Audience

Readers who thought Richard is probably the first artist to try such technologies out, thought wrong.

Because he is not.

There are other artists who have used similar techniques to get viewers of the movie interact with their content in novel ways.

In fact, if one looks at the history of movies/cinema, one can find that it is actually filled with unique and sometimes bizarre efforts to enable more interactions.

The methods artists have used have ranged from using smartphone apps for more engagement to singalongs while the viewers are watching the content.

An assistant professor of media and film at the University of California Berkeley, Jacob Gaboury, clearly remembers when back in the 1990s he sat in a theatre and had to make use of a joystick in order to choose between a total of two versions of a single film’s endings.

There is little doubt about the fact that producing films and other pieces of art that have the ability to respond to the viewer’s brain activity may eventually lead all sorts of filmmakers to produce and/or create various different kinds of sounds, images, and stories which they otherwise might not have created/produced.

That’s what Jacob Gaboury believes.

Recently he also said that often producers and creators would get bogged down when they wanted to tell stories in their own unique way to viewers in the cinema.

Hence, with technologies such as BCI, producers, and creators could come up with some interesting work.

He also said that he would like to see how such works and technologies would progress from the perspective of a director.

However, the main problem is that, a single person has to control the movie.

That is the reason why Jacob believes such kind of movies would not be something that users would get go watch at a typical movie theater.

On the other hand, Richard has previously mentioned how he has managed to experiment with different ways that these films could actually work properly in front of bigger numbers of audience.

Richard noted that one way could be to let a total of three people compete with each other in order to become the main controller of the movie.

Viewers could do that by blinking faster than the other person and managing to earn better meditation scores.

Apart from that, producers like Richard could also take the average of all the reactions in order to determine what to show on the big screen.

However, according to Richard, the method that worked the best was where producers would make use of a cooperative mode.

In this mode, different people from the audience would take responsibility for a certain element of the movie.

For example, one could take control of layer blending.

The other could take control of the shot cutting.

And another one could control the movie’s soundtrack.

Richard said that the films that the people made themselves had the better flow to them.


Zohair A. Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
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