2023.02.17 Film Finder v2

Movie selection, recommendation, and reviewing has long been a focus of research. Various papers in visualization and information retrieval have examined how to help users make choices. As movie picking a movie often involves a) soft constraints such a genre preference; b) distinct, equally valid opinions; c) wide variation among users; and d) relatively low stakes, it makes for a strong use case for systems that help users to make decisions. In Wednesday's class we reviewed Film Finder, a system designed as a proof of concept for several interactive data analysis tools. Some other examples include the GroupLens research group's MovieLens project and papers such as tree spanning views and natural language models. Of course, a number of familiar commercial systems also provide movie recommendations to users.

In this activity, you will redesign the Film Finder for the modern era. First, let's take a look at the original version of Film Finder. Please refer back to the paper during the activity and recall the original use case from Film Finder.

Main interface:

After some filters have been applied:


  1. Please assemble into groups as designated on the projector.
  2. Spend 5 minutes critiquing Film Finder as it was described in the paper and as you see in the images. You can find the paper here.
  3. Spend another 5 minutes discussing movie search and recommendations more generally. What do users do when they look for movies? What kinds of information do they need? Conduct a competitive analysis of tools that your team currently uses (e.g. Netflix). How are you satisfied by current tools? What are they missing that Film Finder does better?
  4. For the next 10 or so minutes, work individually to sketch up some ideas for an improved film finding interface based on your discussion. Each person should produce at least two unique sketch ideas. Think carefully about both the interface and interactive elements.
  5. For the last 15 minutes, come together as a group and create a consensus sketch that summarizes or refines your group's strongest ideas on a large sheet of paper. Make sure to storyboard your interactive elements or annotate them to explain how they work.
  6. Lastly, demo your ideas to the class.

Critique Guide
Design critique can take any number of forms. Some outline pros and cons, or identify particular visual elements and break them down. Others start with the data and discuss the construction of the visualization from the ground up.

Here are some questions to help guide your critique: