The Mill Touch Panel Combines Technology, Interactivity & Creativity
January 4, 2012

The Mill Touch Panel Combines Technology, Interactivity & Creativity

Remember the giant, interactive touch screen that detective John Anderton used to fight pre-crime in the movie Minority Report? Remember how crazy and far-fetched that concept seemed at the time? And that was only 2002! Fast forward to present day, and you will find the new Mill Touch at the center at The Mill New York’s office.
Executed from concept to launch in-house by the studio’s NY Digital team, the Mill Touch is a rear-projected, 5-by-3-foot interactive touch-screen panel made entirely of switchable glass.

One element of the touch screen that was very important to perfect was the design of the interface. Before arriving at the final design decision, several different prototypes of the idea were tested. To ensure that the panel didn't evoke the feeling of working off a desktop, much thought was taken to create a more human-centric user experience. In the end, the final design chosen mimics the look of the Milky Way, imparting the sense of infinite opportunities and limitless possibilities.

While the design makes it attractive, the individual features of the Mill Touch make it unique. The primary challenge from a design and user experience standpoint was finding a way to best represent the legacy and breadth of over two decades of The Mill's repertoire. "It was crucial to create a system that allowed for free-form exploration as well as targeted searches. The solution was to offer multiple view modes for different user mentalities," explains Bridget Sheils, executive producer of Digital.

The primary display reveals a galaxy of info-nodes, each representing a Mill project. The nodes float in a highly responsive celestial space made up of two million particles simulated in real time. When one's fingers move across the screen, the particles and nodes respond to the user's touch. The users can play with the particle stream or interact directly with the nodes to reveal content, diving deeper into a chosen project.

The list view mode targets the more tactical user, in which projects are categorized chronologically, by brand, agency, production company, location, extras and so on. And lastly, a touch keyboard activates real time search. With each keystroke, the galaxy of info-nodes reduces to only relevant content. The keyboard can then be tossed aside or docked at the base of the screen for unobstructed browsing.

Once a project is selected, users are just a tap away from viewing the spot full-screen. Traditional video controls have been replaced with an accordion track-bar that allows jumping to any part of the video with the simple swipe of a finger.

Under the Extras section, the team developed another tool to visually illustrate the quality and quantity of The Mill's postproduction work; namely, the Mill Lens. In these behind-the-scenes clips, the Mill Lens can be used to reveal the before and after footage in realtime.