Digital Narratives – An Experiment

Touch the image above to watch my digital narrative experience of ‘The Final Voyage’

Having written about the need to explore new forms of digital narratives and how to produce them, I wanted to try out myself in designing such a narrative. Since I’m not a writer, neither a photographer – and also because of the time it would take me to produce content by myself –, I wanted to find some content I could use and transform it into a digital narrative.

This was not, by far, a perfect solution since it made me use content that was produced for other type of distribution. Furthermore, video editing proved to be tricky, since I was working without the raw material that goes into a video, like the soundtrack and different takes.

You will see, on my experimentation below, many examples of both my lack of expertise in video editing and the downside of using content produce with other goals in mind.

The content I used came from NASA’s website. Not only does this website provide a huge collection of different media, like videos, pictures and texts, but it also posts these materials with a Creative Commons license. I’ve chosen the magnificent article written by Cheryl L. Mansfield, ‘The Final Voyage’, that tells the story about the Atlantis STS-135 mission, the last one of the Space Shuttle program. I’ve also used the videos, pictures and information available on the website about this mission.

As far as I could, I restrained myself from changing the text of the article, having just replaced two paragraphs with some video.

I also used two pictures found on Wikipedia, also under Creative Commons License and a video from the White House.

A disclaimer: in all the editing and manipulation I’ve made on the content used, it was never my intention to disregard the hard work and expertise that went on the making of that content, the work done by professionals much better than me. The following experiment is just that, an experiment and an example of what can be done. It wasn’t made with any commercial intention whatsoever.

I’ve used Klynt software to make this digital narrative. Klynt is an application developed by Honkytonk in France and is one of the best digital storytelling tools I’ve found so far. I will write about it in bigger details on the following days.

Nevertheless, so far, Klynt is a Flash based application and since this is a WordPress blog I had to host the final file on a personal URL.

You can find my digital narrative experience of ‘The Final Voyage’ here.

As a final note, I would love to receive as much feedback as possible on this exercise. Please feel free to share this link and comment as much as you wish. All insights will be replied and very much appreciated.

2 Responses to “Digital Narratives – An Experiment”
  1. andrew says:

    Interesting experiment! Definitely worth doing. The story itself I found a little lacking in drama to make me overlook some of the flaws in the tool itself.

    I like some of the things the tool lets you do, but it’s far from perfect. Too many ‘loading’ interstitials that don’t allow images to be placed while loading, the “loading more content” piechart in the corner is distracting, and I’d prefer to have images as frame-overs, like The Atavist for instance, rather than removing the context altogether. I’m not sure when I need to hit “play” at what points, nor what is coming when I hit each link (video? image? audio? external URL?) I also don’t find reading text on that layout a hugely rewarding experience. Oh and it hung a few times – I had to reload the page for Chapters Four and Five to make it load. Maybe a server bandwidth issue?

    Hope that helps! Keep on experimenting…

  2. Andrew, thank you so much for your reply!!! It does help a lot. Yes, the text layout could be better made, that’s my fault.

    Regarding the platform used, it has a couple of details that need working. Nevertheless, at least while I’m learning to code HTML, CSS, etc it is the best platform I’ve found for this type of storytelling.

    I’m looking forward to ‘play’ with the Atavist platform. I really like their app on my iPad.


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