Appscend / Mobile, Media and Real-time Insights

Second Screen for the Big Screen

Appscend Team

When „Second Screen” and „Big Screen” laid eyes on each other, it wasn’t really a love at first sight. It seems it was more that type of love that grows on you. On April 4 2013, APP premiered in the Netherlands, a movie that represented one of the very first times ever that brought second screen technology into cinematography. The movie incorporated transmedia storytelling to expand viewers experience while watching the movie on the big screen.

Photo source: Panorama Audiovisual

Photo source: Panorama Audiovisual

On transmedia

Transmedia or transmedia storytelling/narrative is a term that actually goes way back and it refers to the method of telling a story across multiple media platforms. It’s definitely not restricted to cinema movies and is available for content such as comics, video games, books, events and really most types of content. Scandinavian ancestors used this form of narration when they were memorizing and orally passing on sagas. This is just a mere example. Nowadays, things are a lot more digital.


The transmedia experience usually assumes participation from the audience and it usually engages its audience on various levels. APP took viewers, parallel with watching the movie on the big screen, to second screen and back by enabling access to a narrative-synchronized second screen application. The application acted as a parallel narration to the movie, generating additional content and extending on certain key scenes in the movie. The viewers could download the app free prior to the start of the movie and prior to entering the cinema room. During the movie, content such as different camera angles and text messages from the characters could be accessed.

On how second screen can improve and transform a big screen experience

Any mobile app that would accompany a cinema movie is recommended to be developed parallel with the movie itself. This ensures that second screen content is synchronized appropriately with movie content. It also means that viewers will be enjoying content that is relevant to specific scenes in the film at the most appropriate times. Sometimes, if there is a really emotional scene in the movie and you have notifications popping up on viewers’ devices, this could disrupt the audience and overall disengage the audience. According to the director of APP, various scenes were deliberately prolonged in the movie, so that viewers could adjust to the content and not miss out on any of the action.

Second Screen and Big Screen could be sharing a long-term relationship if viewers embrace this new model of watching a movie at the cinema. For that to happen we need to see more initiatives similar to APP and we must, of course, understand how users experience transmedia with big screen.