Wireframes and Gravity

Wired recently did an interview with Alfonso CuarĂłn, the director of the film Gravity. CuarĂłn relates how making the film took four and a half years. When asked why it was so difficult, he responded:

We had to do the whole film as an animation first. We edited that animation, even with sound, just to make sure the timing worked with the sound effects and music. And once we were happy with it, we had to do the lighting in the animation as well. Then all that animation translated to actual camera moves and positions for the lighting and actors. We did a whole exploration of the screenplay, every single moment; we made judgments about everything. Once we began shooting, we were constrained by the limitations of that programming. (emphasis added)

Did you catch that? Before it was filmed the entire movie was, in the terms of web designers, wireframed.

Now I am not familiar with the world of film production, but I can see “wireframing movies” becoming an extremely popular practice based solely on the explorative, iterative nature of wireframes. This would allow directors to explore timing, camera angles, plot development, and other valuable components that constitute great film making.

Similarly, as web designers, I think we would do well to imitate this same exploratory process in designing online experiences. Wireframing an entire website or experience can help explore every single moment of interaction and allow you (the designer) to make better, more informed decisions on molding the components of your website, like information architecture, URL design, animatable interactions, and so forth.