Some Things to Check Out

I hope that everyone had a nice, little vacation. I know that I sure needed the break! We are moving on to interactive video. It is medium that has much possibility and potential in both fiction and non fiction. I’m posting many examples of videos. I also posted an interview with a French interactive video production company at the end of the post. Enjoy!

We will be making our next collective project with an application called Interlude Treehouse. Please explore some of the videos people have made in the past. Tribeca Film festival featured a competition – please take a look at some of them: Tribeca submissions .

There is tutorial on the site and if you want to get a head start take a look at it.

The Wilderness came out several years ago. It was made at Creative Lab 5 in HTML5.

Last Hijack Interactive is the companion piece to the Last Hijack film and is an immersive experience about piracy in Somalia. The interface allows users to view the same story from multiple perspectives.

http://lasthijack.submarinechannel.com/

Ty Segall gets interactive with his lastest music video for “Manipulator“, Directed by recurring colaborator Matt Yoka. As the video plays you can click on various items to manipulate them. The result is a personal and completely trippy experience.

http://ty-segall.com/manipulator/

Check out the latest FourClops project, and interactive music video for the band Rixton. In “Wait On Me” the band has been invited to perform at a 1920′s themed mansion party and you get to control what happens in the story.

I came across this and it looks like an interesting concept – Genero.tv  connects people who need videos with people who make videos.

http://in.fm/v/AEBE3V

Established in 1998, Upian is a design studio and interactive production company known for its award winning projects including Alma – A Tale of Violence, Prison Valley, and Generation Quoi? They are based in France and continue to explore difficult nonfiction stories with interactive video. I am posting an interview with Upian conducted by Hal Siegel below.  Please read.

NFB/Interactive (National Film Board – Canada) supports many interesting interactive film projects. Here are some classic examples that have been circulating the film circuit.

Bear 71 is an interactive documentary that tells the story from a bear’s  (Bear 71) perspective taking footage from a surveillance cameras.

  • Highrise is a multi-year, multi-media, collaborative documentary experiment about the human experience in global vertical suburbs.
  • By Katerina Cizek

I watched Flawed by Andrea Dorfman several years ago and found its simplicity sweet.

The Last Hunt  – very Canadian …

Upian
Interview by Hal Siegel

Established in 1998, Upian is a design studio and interactive production company known for its award winning projects including Alma – A Tale of Violence, Prison Valley, and Generation Quoi? For this interview three of Upian’s producers—Alexandre Brachet, Margaux Missika and Gregory Trowbridge—take us behind the screens as they describe their process and the development of their projects.


Upian

top right: Alexandre Branchet, bottom right: Marguax Missika, left: Gregory Trowbridge

1. Alma – A Tale of Violence is one of the best known interactive documentaries. As one of the producers of the project, what was your relationship like with the filmmakers?

After Prison Valley (by David Dufresne and Philippe Brault), we were introduced to the work of Miquel Dewever-Plana, a photographer, Isabelle Fougère, a journalist, and the story of Alma. We were immediately shocked, under the spell of the power of the story and the potency of the images. Our decision to work with Isabelle and Miquel was immediate and natural. It was an obvious thing to do.

With Alma there was, from the start, the firm conviction that this story was bigger and relevant in many more ways than just the story of a girl in a gang and the violence reigning over Guatemala. It’s also the story of a generation that has been forgotten and slaughtered, a generation that became violent because it has no choice, because they’d been left out by everybody else, and because the “get rich or die trying” mentality begets a world of extreme violence.

We’ve had, with Miquel and Isabelle, a very, very strong and dense relationship. We started by organizing a first trip, a kind of location scout. Developing the story became our obsession. But in the meantime, Miquel and Isabelle had to build and work on their relationship with Alma with one key goal: trust. How could they record her words without betraying her?

During the preparative stages of the project, we did a tremendous amount of writing and of transcribing Alma’s recorded testimonies in order to prepare as best as possible for the actual shoot. We also did a lot of testing with the camera, for finding the best field size.


Alma - A Tale of Violence

2. As an interactive piece, part of what makes Alma so powerful is the simplicity of the interaction – swiping up and down. Did you look at many other concepts, or did you hit on this right away?

After we delved into the story, the concept began to surface naturally. So no, we didn’t explore other options but rather kept working on this one concept to refine it as best as we could. Sébastien Brothier (Upian’s Creative Director) had a vision of the final program and kept working on it to make it flow as much as possible.


Alma - A Tale of Violence

3. Alma is a web doc, an iOS and Android app, and it has additional “modules” that take you deeper into the story. That seems like quite a bit of work. How long was the production and what was the team makeup?

Yes, the additional modules represent a huge amount of work. Each screen has been the object of particular care. In the main program, we refused to bring political, historical or sociological insights. We wanted Alma’s voice to be the only one the viewer heard. So these modules were the perfect place to help our viewers understand, to broaden the point of view.

The decision process that leads to the commitment of a production company like ours (Alma represents two years of hard work) is hard to describe in general. But there is always one part realism, and one part irrational thinking — sheer will and intuition.


Generation What?

4. One of your more recent projects, GENERATION …? (aka Generation Quoi? or, in English, Generation What?), attempts to create a portrait of an entire generation of French young people (age 18 – 34). This project leans heavily on “user-generated content” in the form of surveys with provocative questions. What were the biggest challenges in doing a “UGC”-focused project as opposed to a project like Alma?

This project is very different from our previous programs. It belongs to a specific family of storytelling in that it is a “bi-media” project. Originally, there was a documentary series directed for TV by Laetitia Moreau and produced by Christophe Nick. The series followed about 20 young people to establish a qualitative portrait of youth.

When Christophe Nick and France Télévisions came and asked us to think about what that could become online, we immediately thought it should be the complete opposite. We decided straight away to offer something only the Internet could do: a quantitative self-portrait.

Soon we were talking about a big survey. Two sociologists were already working on the movies and we wanted to involve them in the process. But we felt that our survey and the questions had to be original. We wanted it to communicate with the people while they answered the questions. A kind of intelligent, organic engine capable of placing the people using it among the whole population, giving them an editorial reward for participating.

So we’re talking less about UGC here than experience or interaction. The documentary aspect lies in the experience, in that you can either do it alone or share it with friends. It was also the occasion to experiment with something we’re passionate about: how can we address someone (on an individual basis, like talking to someone using a phone) and talk to everybody at the same time? We call this the “one-to-one/one-to-many” paradigm. We experimented with this in the portraits on the web by showing young people answering the survey, synchronized with the viewers’ stats.


Generation What?

5. GENERATION …? has had over 225,000 participants. Getting people to do anything online that seems like work is very difficult. How did you manage to get so many people to respond?

The huge participation was an incredible surprise. But we think it can be explained by at least two or three factors. First, it is a subject that the national media doesn’t really cover. The youth of France don’t have many places to express themselves, which was one of the reasons we were so excited with this project. I guess it has things to say and young people were happy to find a place where they could talk and listen.

Moreover, we worked for several months on the best way to interact with our audience. The design, the organization of the content, the tone of the questions and the way the engine was talking to the viewers became an obsession. It had to be intimate, relevant and technically smooth.

The discussion with Yami 2 (our co-producer) and France Télévisions was very useful. What was even more surprising for us was that most of the people who started the survey did it all the way through, spending around 20 minutes per visit, on average, answering the 143 questions.

We also put a lot of effort from the beginning into organizing the distribution of the program. We partnered with various national media organizations like Le Monde (a national newspaper), Europe 1 (national radio), and Francetvinfo.fr (the website of the national TV broadcaster). We also collaborated with Animafac, an association coordinating French student associations. They released a beta version of the questionnaire.

We wanted to use Animafac’s network to bring enough people to answer questions so the database would hold some numbers at the program’s launch. But it went viral, and we had more than 4,000 people answering the survey before we even were officially online. Then, the campaign organized by France 2 (with broadcast teasers during peak listening hours) coupled with the involvement of our partners continued to build the audience throughout the two months of the campaign.

6. The films and videos “close the loop” by presenting the data back to the respondents — we get to see their reactions, and how the individual stands in relation to the group. In many ways this could be called Generation DATA, as we have become so aware of the collection and mining of our personal data. How much of that was intended to be a subtext of the project?

Honestly, at the beginning, not much! We had been looking into a lot of data visualization programs, like slaveryfootprint.org, so we really wanted to tell a story with numbers and graphs. The point of the portrait was to give a qualitative feedback with the videos and a quantitative aspect with the numbers. We wanted the viewers to be able to identify themselves with the characters and to place themselves on the map. They could thus compare themselves with the other users.

The only thing important from the beginning concerning the data was how we would use it. It was meant only for sociology. We were going the opposite way of marketing and management approaches. The funny part is that along the production of Generation What?, we started to work on a project around online tracking, how data is collected and how personalization of content is changing the web.

7. Speaking of Upian, the company was founded in 1998 — quite a long time ago by web standards. As an agency focused on interactive storytelling, can you describe the makeup of the company? How are you structured to produce these kinds of innovative projects?

We are indeed a very old web company! Since it’s creation, Upian believed the Internet would be a great place to tell stories. We started to create what we called galette, that were like interactive press cartoons. Then, in 2002 Upian created Presidentielles.net. For about 6 months, it became a new form of media, producing daily content about the French presidential campaign (documentaries, games, parodies, video clips, news, etc.). So producing content is really in the genes of the company.

Although about half of our activity comes from production, we are structured as an agency, with 20 permanent employees, evenly divided between artistic directors, developers and producers/project managers. Everybody works on both type of projects, production and studio. It has many advantages. When working for national media organizations (such as L’Equipe or Radio France) we are creating interfaces used by millions of viewers each day. Furthermore, when we start to work on a project, web designers and developers are involved at the very beginning of conception. It allows us to explore a lot of possibilities from development phase until it’s published.

8. Since your founding there have been so many changes in digital media — from social media, to tablets and smartphones, and now virtual reality is posed to become, well, a reality. At Upian, what do you consider to be the biggest changes on the horizon? How do you see Upian and the industry changing in the next few years?

Ha… This is the biggest question! We have intuitions, but we wouldn’t dare to predict what the future holds. The multiplication of screens is impacting our daily job. Responsive design is a difficult puzzle when you try to produce intuitive navigation and innovative storytelling.

We haven’t been taking on many apps, preferring “web apps”, with HTML5 and the open web. We are starting to explore the potential of virtual reality, with objects like Oculus. We are also interested in distribution, as it is at the intersection of our different activities.

But I guess the main belief is that people are consuming more and more content and they’ll be less and less interested about where it comes from. TV, cinema, web, radio, videogames… all of that should be available everywhere at any time. New actors are entering the field, like Netflix or Amazon. Some formats shall emerge in the next few years and hopefully we will have participated in creating them. This is what we are trying to do with Generation What?, by adapting it to compare a generation across Europe.

 

9. In the United States there is a lot of talk about the “business model” for these kinds of projects — or more specifically, the lack of a clear business model. Is this something that you struggle with at Upian? Do you feel that you have to reinvent the wheel for each project, or is this less of a problem as an agency for hire?

We are also struggling with these questions. As all emerging industries, and particularly in times of crisis, the question of business models can take years to be solved. Upian is quite peculiar in that matter, as we have two activities that aren’t based on the same business models.

The studio works as a classic customer service provider. It is the reason why we have so many permanent employees, which is not the typical production structure. For the moment, our production activity is quite similar to the traditional model: We hire contract workers and raise money through public broadcasters, public institutions and international subsidies.

We believe that each project doesn’t necessarily have to be profitable on its own. And for a long time, production was really an R&D activity. We have a business model for the company. But web programs are growing and the borders between screens are becoming less and less clear.

Moreover, we have initiated discussions with production unions to see how we could structure the industry. About the business models, the debate here is focused on pre-financing programs, when the budget is secured before launch. This is most of the case today, as we haven’t yet found a way to make people pay for online content after it’s been released, something closer to the business model of, for example, video-games.

10. From across the Altantic, France seems like a hotbed of innovation for “transmedia” and immersive storytelling. Why do you think it has taken hold there so strongly?

One of the main reasons is that public institutions are very active in culture and they started to get interested in the potential of the Internet as a place for storytelling quite early. The CNC (the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée) has had a “new media” department since 2007, Arte created its web department almost at the same time. About three years ago, France Télévisions decided to invest in “new writings” to explore what television could look like in a few years.

You need institutions to invest in innovative fields that don’t have solid business models yet for people to start producing content. You can observe a similar — or even stronger — phenomenon in Canada. Public institutions (like the National Film Board of Canada, Canada Media Fund and regional funds) have invested in web productions and, thus, producers have multiplied and it has become one of the main actors in the world of “transmedia.” But the United States is a quick learner!

Hal Siegel is a partner at Murmur, an entertainment studio that creates immersive extensions for existing Television, Film & Web brands and develops original cross-platform series.

 

 

 

 

Next week you have a big Critique – details below.

Hello People,

I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s work on Monday and I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what exactly is expected.

You will be presenting the four related projects to class. We will not have time to read the stories in their entirety (I will however at home) so please consider how you would like to use your time. Each student will have approximately 15 minutes which means 7 min should be spent presenting and the remaining time will be for feed back.

This is a graded project. Please see rubric below.

Requirement:

1) Written character descriptions and any visual avatar you may have created. This may be in paragraph form or you may have addressed the questions directly.

2) The text adventure story written on Inkle writer. Be prepared to walk us through the links. Although most of you have many more, you must have at least two options and one graphic. Please link to your blog. The share button is on the upper left side of Inklewriter. You may want to consider adding a screen grab of the cover on your blog which links to the actual story.

3) 5 graphics (drawings, photos etc.) laid out in Indesign. This must be exported in two ways: a) a print pdf b) jpegs which you upload with brief explanations to your blogs. This can either be a scene from your story or the Origin Story of you character. You do not have to illustrate your whole story. Consider compositions and the use of close ups. Try to develop an individual yet consistent  look.

4)Using the same images (although you may add others) create a non linear story using the interactive Indesign tools. You must have at least 1 button on each page. Buttons can be words, objects or images. You can create a transparent box which you turn into a button on an image. Be creative and think of nonlinear ways you could present the images. If you are the kind of student who always gets an A+ you may want to consider adding sound. Please export as an interactive pdf and link to your blog. Again you may want to consider putting a screen grab up and a brief explanation of the concept.

Rubric

character development           20%         

Text adventure story               30%

Indesign Print document        20%

Nonlinear Story                       30%

Here are the things I will be looking for:

technical advancement – grasp of tools

concepts – ideas stories

artistic direction -

completeness/effort/etc.

Cohesive presentation on the blog and ability to present

Ok!  Have Fun and work hard!  Very much looking forward to next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 3 – Can you beleive it

Just wanted to touch base. Please take the time to look at each others and write at least one review. This should be written on your blog but linked to the persons piece. Also don’t forget to let them know.

If you don’t have a link yet shoot me an email with your url.

Homework is to have at least 5 panels drawn, photographed etc. about your origin story or a short scene. Consider how it reads as well creating dynamic compositions juxtaposing closeups with perspective shots. Your can reference the Scott McCloud. These should be digitized and brought into Indesign.

Have fun and  happy jewish new year. Its the year 5750!

Comics, Graphic Novels and Photo Essays …

I present the amazing and visionary Scott McCoud!

Here’s the the PDF of Scott Mccloud’s seminal book  Understanding Comics

There is an amazing new app to read, share and create interactive comics called madefire. Here is  madefire create. There is a bit of a learning curve – so I encourage you to explore some of the interactive comics and look at some of the tutorials. If you are motivated to teach yourself these tools you may complete the next assignment using Madefire.

We will be creating a short interactive graphic novel or photo essay  using some of the interactive tools Indesign offers. The first step will be to layout your illustrations/photos in Indesign.

Building on the stories you have written you must create a 5 -10 panel (at least 5 panel) scene which “illustrates” and “animates” the “origin story” of your character. In other other words the circumstances that made your character who they are.  If this proves uninspiring you may also choose to just use a scene from your interactive story. You must use original graphics or photographs.

1) Choose topic (workshop)

2) storyboard (workshop)

3)create images.  You may need to use Photoshop, Illustrator or … (save all your files)

4)Basic layout with txt in Indesign

4) Indesign interactivity – next week!

 

 

 

Hello and Welcome to Nonlinear Storytelling.

Interesting compilation of Transmedia examples.

Not sure if we have any students who want to go into journalism but the New York TImes is offering 2 dozen, 2 week internships. It seems like a good opportunity: Here’s the brochure and here is the application.

I enjoyed meeting everyone yesterday and am looking forward to a productive semester with lots of experimentation. Tesseract

1)The first genre we will be exploring is interactive fiction. I am posting an article from the New York Times which discusses a recent revival in Text Games. Please read the article and be prepared to discuss it in class. It would also be good if you could familiarize yourselves with some of the links. We will be creating our first projects in an application called Inkles. There are many examples on their website please explore and again be prepared to discuss which ones you find strong and what makes them work. Also can you post to your blog an example of a graphic artist that you respect.

2)Please develop a character in the first person that you would like to work with this semester. I am posting questions that you should answer about your character. Be creative and try to imagine the kind of world your he/she lives in.

THIS NEEDS TO BE WRITTEN IN THE FIRST PERSON.

1. Communication style: How does your character talk? Does she favor certain words or phrases that make her distinct and interesting? What about the sound of her voice? Much of our personality comes through our speech, so think about the way your character is going to talk. Her style of communication should be distinctive and unique.

2. History: Where does your character come from? Think out his childhood and adolescence. What events shaped his personality? What did his father do for a living? How about his mother? How many siblings does he have? Was it a loving family or an abusive, dysfunctional one? What events led him to the career choices he made? You may not need to provide all this background to your reader, but it’s good to know as the writer. It helps give him substance in your mind as well.

3. Appearance: What does she look like? This may be the least important ingredient to make your character a person to the reader, but you should still know it in your own mind. Not every character needs to be drop-dead gorgeous, by the way. Most people aren’t.

4. Relationships: What kind of friends and family does he have? How does he relate to them? Is he very social or reclusive, or somewhere in between? People can be defined by the company they keep, so this can be a good way to define your character.

5. Ambition: Just as this is the central letter of the acrostic, so too this concept is absolutely central to your character and plot. What is her passion in life? What goal is she trying to accomplish through your story? What is her unrecognized, internal need and how will she meet it?

6. Character defect: Everyone has some personality trait that irritates his friends or family. Is he too self-centered? Too competitive? Too lazy? Too compliant? Too demanding of others? Don’t go overboard on this. After all, you want your reader to like the character. But he’ll feel more real if he has some flaw. This is usually connected to his unrecognized need (see Ambition) and often gets resolved through his character arch.

7. Thoughts: What kind of internal dialogue does your character have? How does she think through her problems and dilemmas? Is her internal voice the same as her external? If not, does this create internal conflict for her? In real life we don’t have the benefit of knowing someone’s innermost thoughts, but a novel allows us to do just that, so use it to your advantage.

8. Everyman-ness: How relatable is your character? While James Bond is fun to watch on screen, most of us aren’t uber-trained special agent-assassins so it’s a little hard to relate to him on a personal level. On the other hand, Kurt Russell’s character in the movie Breakdown was far more ordinary and relatable, creating a more visceral experience. Be careful not to make your character too elite or he may be too difficult to live vicariously through. And that, after all, is the key to suspense.

9. Restrictions: More than a personality flaw, what physical or mental weakness must your character overcome through her arch? After all, even Superman had Kryptonite. This helps humanize your character, making her more sympathetic and relatable.

3)Lastly you may want to begin to think about your first interactive story. You can begin to sketch/plan it out on a story tree. photo(6)

 

 

 

TOMORROW IS YOUR FINAL CRIT!

[slideshare id=36380900&doc=playbookonlinev1-140627085445-phpapp02]

Looking forward to seeing everyone’s transmedia projects! I’ll be around tonight shoot me an email or tweet me if you have any questions.

Work hard!!!! Be inspired!!! Have Fun!!! See you on time tomorrow!!!

There’s a twist – Check the Challenge out!

I can’t believe this our last class! By the end of today’s class I will need to have OKed all final projects Remember – Your Transmedia stories must successfully give your character an on line identity and contextualize her or him in the Megaflood story that has been unfolding. Presentation is important! Consider how you will put the media elements together and how together they propel the story. Everything must be on your blogs! Consider embedding some of the tweets you participated in.

Final project minimum required elements:

  • Character development
  • Social media/twitter identity
  • use of at least one online application (timeline, storify, mapping tools, visualization app, etc., )
  • One media piece – sound or video (3 min)
  • additional media (gifs, image editing, paper)
  • A reflection blog post (due after finals but before I grade)
  • All media must be organized on one page of your blog!

th

King Rats are Smart! Total Panic! Bounty Extra Credit Prize! 

This footage was leaked to the press late night causing alarm and is largely considered a warning to all borough kingdoms. Below is an x-ray of the rapidly occurring mutations photographed during stage 1. Human tissue is grafted to the intricate rat web.

rat-king_ps

[ezcol_1half]New York is switching to triple black emergency mode for the fifth time today. All defense forces are out fighting the King Rat infestation, which is proving increasingly difficult.  What makes these rat conglomerates remarkable is their ability to multiply not only in number but also in intelligence kilowatts. New Yorkers are being enveloped at the rate of 2 people per hour sometimes increasing in the evening.  As human’s brain tissue is devoured, it grafts itself rapidly on to the rat web becoming a robust organism.  Some fear that New Yorkers are at risk of morphing into a new rat-being breed.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]

Fortunately, many people are already on the streets killing the king rats and protecting their people as best they can. The Feds are offering an extra-credit bounty prize to the borough that manages to regain control of this New York pandemic.  In the event that the problem should continue to expand they are threatening a drone attack.

The Challenge is on! Which Borough Kingdom will come up with the best plan to save the greater NYC? Tweet it out! Use Tags #CT101 #Megaflood #umberto #Yourboroughkingdom

[/ezcol_1half_end]

The Storm is Rageing – Who will hear you?

Ok – The saga continues … babys are being born, cupcakes are being sold, rats are roaming, friends are lost. Who can you trust? Where are you DIgital Story tellers? Follow megastorm.us – (wordpress) Follow megastorm2019 on twitter. The official record is depending on your voice – tweet like hell and use the tags #CT101, #megaflood #umberto and share all maps, info graphics and timelines.