Real time (media)
Real time within the media is a method of narratology wherein events are portrayed at the same rate that the audience experiences them. For example, if a movie told in real time is two hours long, then the plot of that movie covers two hours of fictional time. If a daily real-time comic strip runs for six years, then the characters will all be six years older at the end of the strip than they were at the beginning. This technique can be enforced with varying levels of precision. In some stories, such as 24, every minute of screen time is a minute of fictional time. In other stories, such as the daily comic strip For Better or For Worse, each day's strip does not necessarily correspond to a new day of fictional time, but each year of the strip does correspond to one year of fictional time. Real time is ancient in origin, dating back to the climactic structure of classical Greek drama.
Film and television
Often, use of split screens or picture-in-pictures are used to show events occurring at the same time, or the context in which various subplots are affecting each other. Examples include the television series 24 and films Timecode and Phone Booth. On-screen clocks are often used to remind the audience of the real-time presentation.
- Rope (1948)
- The Set-Up (1949)
- Dragnet episode "City Hall Bombing" (first aired in 1949)
- High Noon (1952)
- Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962)
- The Sadist (1963)
- Anokhi Raat (1968)
- Inserts (1975)
- M*A*S*H episode "Life Time" (first aired November 26, 1979)
- Wannseekonferenz (1984)
- Clue (1985)
- Seinfeld episode "The Chinese Restaurant", first aired May 23, 1991
- Frasier, episodes "My Coffee With Niles" (1994) and "Dinner Party" (1999)
- Nick of Time (1995)
- Friends episode "The One Where No One's Ready", first aired September 26, 1996
- Running Time (1997)
- Run Lola Run (1998)
- The X-Files episode "Triangle", first aired November 22, 1998
- The Royle Family (sitcom, 1998–2000)
- Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Waiting for Edward", first aired December 25, 1998
- Timecode (2000)
- 24 (TV series, 2001–2010)
- Tape (2001)
- Russian Ark (2002)
- Watching Ellie (TV series, 2002–03, first incarnation only)
- 11:14 (2003)
- Phone Booth (2003)
- Before Sunset (2004)
- Nine Lives (2005)
- The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)
- United 93 (2006)
- 16 Blocks (2006 film)
- Crank (2006 film), where the protagonist is on an energetic cat-and-mouse game to avoid his poisoned heart losing adrenaline.
- Numb3rs episode "One Hour" (2007)
- 11 Minutes Ago (film 2007) - An indie drama that plays out in 11 minutes increments of reverse-chronological real-time. It was filmed in just 17 hours.
- 88 Minutes (2008 film)
- Stargate Atlantis episode "Thirty-Eight Minutes" (without advertisements)
- "42", an episode of the third series of Doctor Who (2007)
- Garfield and Friends episode "Five-Minute Warning", including a 5-minute countdown in the corner of the screen (note: the countdown jumps from :58 to :56)
- The Simpsons episode "24 Minutes" - A parody of the TV series 24
- Justice League episode "Wild Cards" features a real-time bomb hunt; the countdown clock is visible throughout the episode.
- 30 Minute Meals
- Mad About You episodes "Our Fifteen Minutes" (1995) and "The Conversation" (1997)
- Roger & Val Have Just Got In
- Him and Her
- Cherry Tree Lane (2010 film) about two parents horror as their home is invaded by a local gang looking for their teenage son.
- Silent House (2011 film)
- Neighbours (2011 - "Episode 6188")
- South Park, episode 604, "The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer"
The technique has been criticized for being unrealistic, since in order to make fiction more interesting than real-life, tasks such as travel, eating, and use of bathrooms would occur much quickly (or be ignored entirely) and therefore require more suspension of disbelief.
In a real-time computer game or simulation, events in the game occur at the same rate as the events which are being depicted. For instance, in a real-time combat game, in one hour of play the game depicts one hour of combat.
- Prince of Persia
- Animal Crossing
- Night Trap
- The Last Express
- 24: The Game
- Metal Gear Solid
- Metal Gear Solid 2
- Metal Gear Solid 3
Comic books and strips
In comic books, the use of real time is made more complicated by the fact that most serial comics are released on a monthly basis and are traditionally 20 to 30 pages long, making it difficult to tell a story set in real time without overlooking important events from one month to the next. Another explanation is the prevalence of the super-hero genre in American comics, and the iconic status attached to such characters : it is often considered that such mythological, sometimes godlike heroes cannot age in real time without losing the characteristics that make them special. Hence the more common use of floating timelines in Marvel Comics or DC Comics. Exceptions include Marvel Comics' New Universe line of books, Erik Larsen's long-running Savage Dragon ongoing series, John Byrne's Superman & Batman: Generations (three non-canon miniseries exploring the notion of "what if Superman and Batman could age?"), and Ben Dunn's Ninja High School.
Comic strips which feature characters aging in real-time include:
- Ninja High School
- Hellblazer John Constantine's events take place within an "active continuity".
- Superman & Batman: Generations
- Savage Dragon
- New Universe (Marvel Comics imprint, 1986–1989)
- 52 A weekly comic book series by DC Comics
- Judge Dredd (Characters have aged in real-time since the series started in 1977)
- Gasoline Alley (Characters have grown up, aged and died in real time since the 1920s)
- For Better or For Worse (for its first 28 years of existence)
- Doonesbury (Characters age in real-time and interact with real history)
In the Inspector Rebus series of detective novels (17 as of 2010) by the Scottish writer Ian Rankin, characters age in step with the publication date. Rebus is stated to have been born in 1947; in the 2007 novel Exit Music he reached 60, and retired.
The Mandie series of children's mystery novels by Lois Gladys Leppard are exactly one hundred years from the present real time and ended by the eighteenth year (or one hundred and eighteenth year) of the main protagonist in 2006 at the reader's end of childhood and adolescence.