Home HBO Voyeur: Intriguing, Yet Creepy, Multimedia Video Project

HBO Voyeur: Intriguing, Yet Creepy, Multimedia Video Project

At the end of June, US cable network Home Box Office launched an ambitious new web video project entitled HBO Voyeur. The concept was easy to grasp, avante garde, and wholly addicting. HBO called the project, which was also broadcast on the HBO on Demand pay cable channel, “a multimedia experience that gives you a peek into what happens behind the countless windows we pass everyday.”

The premise was simple: Using a single, stationary camera angle and no dialogue, viewers would be invited to literally peer into the apartments of the show’s characters. Stories would unfold strictly through action, often times in multiple rooms at once (and often times multiple story lines at once). A mellow soundtrack for the project is provided by musical artists like Clint Mansell, who did the music for the movie Requiem for a Dream, and Interpol’s Carlos D.

From the HBO Voyeur web site, viewers can look in on stories unfolding in 5 different locations, including one entire apartment building. The view is a cross section looking through the walls of the apartment (or in one case, a funeral parlor) at the people inside. My quick count found about 25 episodes clocking in at up to 5 minutes each (though some were only a few seconds long).

The show is actually better suited to the online environment, in my opinion, since it feels more interactive. I think on my computer I felt more a connection with the characters than I did watching on TV. I found watching HBO Voyeur to be all at once intriguing, comforting, and a bit creepy — it’s easy to get hooked. The set design and sound track are great, and there is no real noticeable lag in the video (the entire site is displayed in flash), except for some buffering while it initially loads.

But are people watching? According to Alexa, there was a surge of traffic in early July that pushed the site into the world’s top 15,000. But since, there has been a precipitous drop in traffic and it’s unclear whether HBO Voyeur is still an active project at HBO (the companion blog was shut down at the end of July, but the fan forum remains somewhat active).

I hope the HBO sticks with it and produces more content for the venture, but either way, Voyeur is a very interesting multimedia project that is worthy of checking out (though possibly not at work — there’s nothing very racy about it, but the name alone might raise eyebrows). And whatever the ultimate fate of the show, the project web site itself remains online, so definitely take a look and let us know what you think.

Below is a video trailer for the show:

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