Touching the Future

Made by Laura Miller

A supercut video that celebrates the evolution of user interface design in Science Fiction throughout the years. Highlights clips of interactions from movies and tv shows from the start of film up to the last decade.

Created: November 28th, 2016


Curatorial Statement

A supercut video that improves upon the ideas from my project from the “Electronic Media” module and celebrates the evolution of user interface design in Science Fiction throughout the years. Although often overlooked in discussions, UI design in SciFi has influenced many real UI designs throughout the years and gives us insight into how humans expect to interact with computers in the future. The video highlights this with clips of interactions with UIs from movies and tv shows from the start of film up to the last decade.



I created a supercut of clips of UI interaction from 17 films, movies, and tv shows using clips sourced from YouTube and edited with Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015.  I found the music on YouTube as well.  It took me 20-30 hours to make this four minute supercut because of the time it took to find relevant clips, cut them, and put them into the video in such a way that they fit in time with the music.  I also clipped the audio and changing decibel levels so sound transitions weren't jarring and so that things could be heard properly.

Google Drive Link:

I'm also in the process of uploading my video to YouTube and Vimeo!



I made my video because I wanted to iterate on my original intention.  I felt that my previous video didn't capture the feeling that I had set out to achieve, which was a simple, perhaps funny or exciting look into an aspect of science fiction that has influenced modern culture.  By focusing on user interfaces (UIs) specifically in this iteration, I wanted to highlight the importance of user interface design.  Over the years, UIs in Sci-Fi have evolved from knobs and levers and readouts to keyboards, touch screens, and heads-up displays, and actual UI design in real life has followed.  This evolution shows the importance of Sci-Fi and how it is both influenced by culture and influences culture.  It plays with our expectations of the future and draws upon our hidden inner ideas of how we should interact with the technology that is such an integral part of our lives, and I wanted to capture that in a single video.



Future Screens Are Mostly Blue - Episode 95 of 99% Invisible

Although not specifically "art" as we've talked about it throughout the semester, this episode discusses design decisions in Science Fiction with designers Chris Noessel and Nathan Shedroff about their book, Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons From Science Fiction.  It explores the design of interfaces made by people in the past about the future for Sci-fi movies, tv shows, and the like.  Specifically, it discusses the “holistic visual syntax” that visual portrayals of Sci-fi exhibit in order to portray ideas (such as the use of green to represent the Borg or the "image under glass" computer interfaces of Star Trek Next Generation).  They spend a lot of time discussing "apologetics" people give to bad interfaces while giving praise to good ones and discussing how designers can draw from them.  Apologetics are traditionally used in the sense of religion, but in this show they use it to mean rational explanations to explain or cover holes in design.  For instance, when Luke and Han are fighting TIE Fighters in the Millennium Falcon, you can hear the TIE fighters flying around and exploding, but sound waves don't propagate in space!  An apologetic for this is that sound helps you identify where objects are in 3D space, so maybe the designers of the ship decided to put sensors on the outside of it to gather data about movement and portray it as sound to the ship's occupants.  It's the idea of finding the human factor in technological shortcomings.

This thinking has helped me to sort out the idea of an interface for showing my video - and perhaps gave me ideas of various things I can focus on when looking for clips to use.  It showed the potential for rich experiences in engaging audiences.

News of the Normal Future - Specifically NORMAL000 by Aurelien R. Michon and Cedric Flazinski

This graphic novel discusses ideas of dystopian future and how people and culture change (and stay the same).  It is a preview of NORMAL001, 002, and 003.  The art style is sketchy and only made of the colors white, black, and red - lending an uneasy and sometimes alarming tone.  It begins the discussion of designing for the future and the counterintuitive idea for individuals to be isolated in the ever-connected world we live in.  In their own words, it is a "BLEND OF ANTICIPATORY DESIGNS AND NARRATIVES DEVOTED TO CELEBRATING THE FUTURE NETWORKED ‘ME-FEST’ AND ITS SERVERS FULL OF CUTE CAT VIDEOS, THROUGH ONE BIG STORYLINE".  

I think this is an interesting look into the potential for design - while I did not directly use ideas from it, it is a provocative look at design of future things.

Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby

Although I wasn't able to read the whole thing (only excerpts were available) I enjoyed looking at this.  From the information available, this is a speculation into the possible design of future items and ideas.  It is an exploration not of predictive means based on trends, but asking "what if" questions and trying to provide avenues for discussion.  They believe that the more we speculate, the more we think about possibilities, the more the reality of what we are thinking will become "malleable".

This influenced me to keep my video lighthearted.  Rather than taking a critical look at UI design, I wanted to celebrate it and leave the viewers thinking about "what if" possibilities for the future at the end.

Let's Enhance

This is a light-hearted take on the constant use of image enhancement in film (not specifically Sci-fi, but it includes it).  The video shows clips of actors in various TV shows giving the command to "enhance" images to produce a hilarious effect.  As a computer scientist, this trope always made me shake my head (computers are good at finding patterns and there are amazing ways to sharpen or otherwise coax detail out of images if you know what you're looking for, but it is impossible to create more detail out of thin air like many of these shows suggest is possible), but I've never seen the line to "enhance" delivered so many times in 1 minute and 43 seconds.  

This gave me insight into possible avenues for humor in repetition in my final project.  Although not a serious supercut, it draws attention to modern day humanity's expectation of computers and design to solve our problems.

A Look Back At The Future In Film

This is another light-hearted and fun look back into the past of Sci-fi films.  It brings together the visual aesthetics of various films and what people of the past expected from the future.  In one simple supercut, it gives an overview of both new and old Sci-fi and how our expectations have changed.  I specifically like this because it visually showcases some of what 99% (shown above) discusses, in that it showcases what future technology and design was thought to be like in these various worlds.  So much can be portrayed about the human psyche by well-chosen pieces of music and clips.  

This reminded me of the breadth of Sci-fi available and the potential for humor in simplicity.  One can weave a sort a narrative with disjoint clips and showcase ideas and relate it to past, present, and future sensibilities.  I followed this sort of formula in my video.

Let's Enhance
Duncan Robson -
A Look Back At The Future In Film
Robert Jones -


My initial idea was to get back to my original intent and use Sci-Fi bloopers to create a simple video giving insight into how Sci-Fi has influenced modern sensibilities.  However, I soon realized that blooper clips, although not hard to find, were hard to fit into anything meaningful.  I had realized something similar before, but I wanted to work past that this time, only to find it was a creative dead-end for me.

My second idea centered around UI design, but I was concerned with how to present it to people in a media installation.  I wanted to portray the passage of time and how the old influences the new while leaving a hopeful note for the future.  I considered using an old CRT television and a VCR to play my video, or perhaps include a video with clips from early movies/shows on the CRT and have a high-definition flatscreen play a video with clips from newer movies/shows.  This way people could interact with old technology (rewinding the tape).  However, I soon realized that not only are CRT televisions and VCRs surprisingly difficult to procure, but they focused on the past and muddied the water of my idea, which focused on the future and iterating on UI design.  I felt it also over-complicated my idea and would cause people to question why I used old devices when I wanted the focus to be simpler and more on the video itself rather than the technology being used to show it.

So, my final idea was to create one video to be shown on a loop on one of the TVs in the room and to upload it online where it has more viral potential. 



My inner critic is much happier with this work than my module 2 project because this is much closer to my intent, even if not exactly that.  I used my knowledge about the time commitment needed to find clips and edit video from my past iteration and started early, which resulted in a much better quality work than before.  However, I still consider it an early work for me.  There are a few times between clips where the transitions could have been stronger and tied to the beat of the song more (like the transition into Minority Report, for example).  There are also times when the audio could have been better, but I had trouble with it because I know absolutely nothing about editing audio, so in the future I'll try to learn more about that.  I couldn't always separate the sound effect or the voice I wanted from the music or other sound effects in the clip, and you can hear that in certain places (like the Star Trek clips from the original series).  Not to mention, although I did start early, if I could do this again, I would seek out actual films and movies and tv shows and watched them to find the clips myself rather than just grabbing what I could from YouTube, which doesn't have everything you could possibly want.  I had to compromise in more than one place about what movie/show I could use or what particular clip I could use when I had another in mind.




Epic Star Trek Remix:

Clips in the order shown in the supercut

1. A Trip to the Moon / Le Voyage dans la lune (1902):

2. Flash Gordon (1936):

3. The Time Machine (1960):

4. Star Trek TOS (1966-1969): and

5. 2001 a Space Odyssey (1968): and

6. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977):

7. Alien (1979):

8. Terminator (1984):

9. Star Trek TNG (1987-1994):

10. Jurassic Park (1993):

11. Independence Day (1996):

12. The Fifth Element (1997):

13. The Matrix (1999):

14. Minority Report (2002):

15. Iron Man (2008):

16. Avatar (2009):

17. Star Trek (2009):


I used Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015 to edit this video.

I used Video Grabby ( to grab clips from YouTube.


Original Proposal

My original proposal for the viral project was this:

"I've been a fan of Star Trek for a long time, and I've watched all of the series and all of the movies. Part of Star Trek is the serious discussion of deep and complex topics. That's why I've decided to focus on the sillier moments - bloopers. Bloopers are inherently comedic, and watching Star Trek actors flub a line or start to laugh during a take is even more so due to the often serious nature of the show. However, there are many blooper mashup and supercut videos out there already. But, they usually include the entire blooper, often waiting until the whole thing plays out to switch to the next one, and sometimes they include bloopers that aren't actually very funny. That's why I've decided to make something even more out of them, perhaps focusing specifically on laughter, movement, or trying to create a narrative out of messing things up.

I think that this will be easily spreadable/viral because comedy is something that everyone can enjoy, not just fans of Star Trek. I will aim for a video that is about 2 minutes long so that there isn't a large barrier to entry for watching. I'll post to Youtube, Vimeo, or Facebook."

The end result was "Star Trek: Data Reacts To Trump".

However, I feel that the end result did not represent my original intent well because I didn't anticipate the time commitment needed for finding clips and editing video.  As a result, I didn't put as much effort into spreading it as I could have because I didn't like it.  However, I enjoyed the unit on viral/spreadable media, and I'd like to give this one another shot, but expand on the idea instead of necessarily going for low-hanging fruit like political commentary (though I'm not excluding the possibility).  I would also like to possibly expand my range to other sci-fi shows as well, but try to stick to bloopers this time.  I'd like to use the frame of reference of aging sci-fi shows to say something about modern life.

To be clear, my intent is this: create a short and funny viral video that captures the sillier, lighter side of often serious sci-fi shows while providing insight into modern sensibilities.  It would play on a television/projector on a loop or be interacted with by people walking by.  It would also be posted on YouTube.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Blooper - The Best of Both Worlds
Beemulan Formal -
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62-150 Intro to Media Synthesis and Analysis

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New creative industries are empowering new modes of collaborative consumption, creation and reuse of media. This often relies on successful collaborations between cross-trained artists, designers a...more


A supercut video that celebrates the evolution of user interface design in Science Fiction throughout the years. Highlights clips of interactions from movies and tv shows from the start of film up to the last decade.