I don’t tweet when I’m watching TV or movies - I look stuff up. So while no social second screen app has held down a spot on my iPad Mini couch companion, Beyond The Screen is staying put.
Why? Because all that cameo and soundtrack and movie-making trivia I usually flit around IMDb, Empire and Google hunting for is right there and waiting in the iPad app. With quotes. And animations. And a body count. Body count? Yep- Beyond The Screen was built by NBCUniversal and Stereo for three films at launch: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End AKA Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy.
Just to be clear, chaps: I’d like a Beyond The Screen treatment for all films ever made, please.
Cast and Brew
After selecting from the three Cornetto movies, trivia, soundtrack info and quizzes are all ready to go but the best way to use Beyond The Screen is Timeline.
This cleverly uses the iPad’s mic to pick up audio from the movie as it plays and sync the app’s content. So new factoids, pics, weapons used and location maps pop up as the action happens on the big screen. It’s almost perfectly timed - only once or twice did I skip back to a cameo or bit of prop trivia.
As well as a ‘stats’ screen, everything presented in the app can be saved to a freezer - nice - and as I collected different types of content, these were badged as Cornettos. (Collect ten from each of the three films and you can win some sort of media streaming box in a prize draw - might as well if you’re watching all three).
The info itself is a cut above most cursory web searches too - compiled from film production notes, studio archives and cast and crew interviews it provides incredible smug-face fodder for outgeeking movie buff mates. Still, they're only snippets - I discovered Peter Jackson cameos as a Father Christmas stabbing Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz but I had to Google to find out that Edgar Wright met Jackson on the set of King Kong.
It’s not all trivia though. Fans of drinking along to boozy movies (Withnail and I again, anyone?) will enjoy the beer-o-meter which racks up measures even when Nick Frost slurps out of sight of the camera in Shaun of the Dead. Impressive.
Beyond The Screen Verdict
The sound recognition does of course work with Blu-rays but the real potential for Beyond The Screen will be if it scales up to provide that missing magic to movies on streaming and on demand services. Right now there’s no extras, no commentaries and no alternate endings when you stream and the likes of Netflix execs don’t see this as a problem.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this, ready for some more trivia Timelining the second a new film is added to this initial trio. Unless it’s a painfully-unfunny-scene count for Movie 43, that is.
For now, this is a must-download for fans of Frost and Pegg’s faces - it’s fun, it’s free and it might just win you the next pub quiz. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?