Pine Point

http://pinepoint.nfb.ca/#/pinepoint

Story elements:

Events – Pine Point is the story of a town. A town that no longer exists and was wiped off the face of the earth. It now only lives through the memories of the people that once belonged there. The story is told through their memories, through the photos, through the news events that took place there. The web documentary takes us through what the town stood for, what it meant to people, the kind of people that existed there and what lead to it’s final closure. It is a look into the town history, the people, the present of those people, the crash of Cosmos 954, the work available in town, the souvenirs which include the photos and videos, the weirdness of how the closure of town was went about and finally what remains today and how people pay their memories a visit every now and then.

Actors – The characters here are a few of the people who were the last to grow up in the town of Pine Point before it shut down. They include the beauty of town, the muscle, the brothers etc. The narrator is someone who did not belong to the town but is a link between everyone now in the present.

Time – The events start in the past when the town existed and run into the present showing the viewer what remains now.

Place – The town of Pine Point. In Pine Point school, hotel, ice ring, etc.

Narrative elements:

Ordering – The events occur in a chronological fashion mostly as we go from what the town was to what remains. Flash backs are shown through the memories and left over footage collected over time in the town.

Pace – The documentary covers various years in about 40 minutes give or take. It touches on the main and most important events and hence, I would say is fast paced.

Focalization – The point of view is through the eyes of an undefined character who might have belonged to the town.

Narrator – The narrator is representing the people of the town. He sounds like an insider but is an outside. He is very reliable as everything he says, through copy only, is backed with images, drawings by people from the town or consensus and research which is very apparent throughout the documentary. He creates an atmosphere of belonging with his attitude of obviousness, which makes the audience more involved emotionally in my opinion.

Text – It is an interactive, graphic digital narrative project created as a website.

Traditional narrative features:

Linearity – The project is mostly linear recounting the way things happened as Pine Point came to it’s end. Every now and then, the narrator jumps into the present but goes back to where he left off.

Series of conflicts that leads to a climax and resolution – The lack of ore resources for mining creating lack of jobs, the crash of Cosmos 954, the burning of the high school and the increase in problems like alcoholism, marital break ups etc., leading to the choice of the government to close down the town.

Protagonist and antagonist – The protagonist here is the town itself – Pine Point. The antagonist is the government who close it down, sending letters to people containing consensus that they wouldn’t know existed, and making them move out.

Three-act structure – Act 1: An existence of a town, doing fine, with it’s ups and downs. Act 2: People leaving, conflicts, school burning, crashing Cosmos 954. Act 3: Closure of town and the memories and way of celebrating it today.

Heroes journey – The hero being the town, through the ins and outs of various life that existed there.

Digital narrative features:

Numerical coding and modularity – This webdoc has a lot of features like animation, graphics, sound, film, photography, scripting, coding and designing etc., which would require a pretty big team of people with collaborations between various professionals.

Variability – Though the webdoc is very interactive in nature and there is a lot every viewer can do and find out, the end result of the documentary is not variable and will be the same every time.

Programmed elements – Interactive maps, timelines, photos, animated characters, videos, animation of the town itself, etc.

Participatory aspects – It is very interactive and every slide has a lot of things that a reader or viewer can do. From clicking buttons to move stuff around or reveal what a drawing means or even explore a township to shuffling through photos and videos of the people of the town. It is participation to find out more over participation to leave your own thoughts behind.

Spice Up My Life

 

Spice up my life is a story about a fictional Indian girl who is on a path to self-discovery. She uses various spices to change her luck. Indian culture is very aphrodisaical in nature and every spice elevates a different outcome in our lives. This is the thought, from which our story originates. Sabina, our character, is an odinary girl from Delhi, but when she gets left at the altar, she decides to leave and travel the world as no other Indian girl, her stature would do. Her journey is full of suprises waiting to be read. Along with her story, find her recipes, all with a trick and discover the spice you need to change your life.

Aesthetics:

The aesthetics of website building was probably the toughest part of our project. We actually managed to design more than one website and put it up for peer vote, to help us decide. We had one that had a very commercial look to it. It was aesthetically perfect but it wasn’t warm and inviting for our viewers. Which is what a BLOG must be. The other website was much plainer than the first and probably ignored some aesthetic rules. But at the same time, it gave out a warm bloggy vibe. In the end, that’s the one we decided to go with.

The points we kept in mind while building this website were white space, pastel colours to act warm, keeping in mind the emotions of the story, easy accessibility, better interface and easy maneuvering. It was very important for us to give it a personal aspect and that is what we wanted to reflect through our website. It is the one point we kept in mind throughout.

Content:

Coming up with this story was a long process but I think it represents a part of us all, i.e. Warren, Sabine and I. Mixing all of us into one character was a tough but very interesting job. We decided to treat this story as a website/blog. With a total of ten blogs, released periodically, chapter by chapter, our story unfolded with a new recipe each time to engage our audience. It wasn’t just a story but also a recipe search site as well as a study into spices of India and the qualities they exude.

Every blog starts with a personality or adjective that Sabina thinks she needs to add to her life. Then we tell you the story covering why she needs it and end with her special recipe. An example of a spice and it’s personality is cinnamon which stands for love. Both Sabine and I have travelled India largely and the story tells some experiences taken from our lives, while Warren, as a nurse, has always worked around Indians and was able to relate to this girl. We had a lot of fun with the story and even got together every week to cook a dish used in our blog, so we could photograph it.

We all wrote our blogposts individually but then edited it together so as to have one voice for our character. I think this really helped us and solved a major problem of a common voice that we were facing in the starting.
The entire blog is copyrighted by law through the builder website called Wix. Our copyright mark is situated at the bottom of the website. We decided not to use creative commons for this one and all the content generated has been done by one of the three of us and is legit.
The main aim of the story is a message to all women in India to follow their dreams.
Technology and Social Media:
We used a website builder called Wix which makes creating websites much easier. We were able to design every thing to the very last detail which gave us a lot of control over what we were doing as well. On the home page, we put a timeline which tells you the linear format of the story but also the recipe in each chapter if that is all you need. This makes maneuvering much easier. Also a search bar is situated at the top right which lets all search the website. Each post is tagged appropriately. You can view all of our fictional character’s social media on our website and even read a summary on the about me page. An Instagram page, Facebook page as well as Twitter page were designed for our characters. We had numerous friends who followed our posts and kept advertising her website on her social media as well as ours.
While Sabina’s social media posted everytime there was a new post, our pages were used to spring the project and marketing image to our friends, calling them to visit and subscribe. We also sent out two newsletters to all our followers at the start of our project as well as at the end, calling them to view and follow our story.
Marketing Image:

marketing image

I designed the marketing image and am actually quiet proud of it as I think it’s very warm, welcoming and aesthetically correct. It reflects our theme as well as sets the cooking mood that we want to inspire.

We posted this image on all of our social medias to hit as many of our audience we could. The use of hashtags should also hopefully pull more viewers as the hashtags that we used were ones I discovered during my hashtag research for the class.

Team Work:

As I have mentioned before, this project was the perfect collaboration between my team members, Sabine and Warren, and I. We were all part of everything as a team but also had our personal roles defined. Sabine took part in the overall look and design of our website. Warren was boss of the content whereas I made sure of all the copyrights, widgets and apps on our website. I was also part of social media along with Sabine and Warren, all of us taking a platform each. I would say that we divided according to our expertise but ended up doing a little bit of everything.
Though it may not reflect to the normal eye looking at our digital story but every last detail has been thought of including the lengths of the blog posts and it was and could only be done through great team effort, awareness and togetherness. I think I had the best and most vocal team to work with.
Overall, I think it’s a project all of us are mighty proud of and have worked very hard on. I just hope everyone enjoys it as much as we enjoyed making it.

Content

A major problem that Warren, Sabine and I faced was what should be added to our content apart from the main story as well. Should we have some audio, music to set the mood and personalize it further or should we add a few videos to demonstrate our recipes as we were cooking them ourselves anyway. We thought of adding photos of both the recipes and personal photos of Sabina as this was her blog and her story. Then we decided against it. All in all, there was a lot of things that could be done and were thought about in the form of great ideas but it was always a tough choosing how much should be done and how much was enough without over-complicating it for ourselves as well.

Another problem we faced with content was having one voice as it was a story of one person that we tell, from her point of view. All our writing styles differ and it was hard to get a flow going with our content. It ended up being very disruptive in our first draft of the story itself.

To un-complicate the process for us as well as get some good answers I turned to RMIT’s amazing library where I was able to pull some great academic writings which helped me solve my answers.

Digital Storytelling: A Creator’s Guide To Interactive Enteratainment by Carolyn Handler Miller was a great read that I found in the library. Truth be told I just skimmed through it but what I learnt from this book was that, if storytelling is done using socail media, using realistic characters who can be very relatable are more often than not more popular amogst the market online. Also authenticity is craved amongst people on social media and the more the character comes out of real life, the more success. One must concentrate on the character themselves as well as what is trending. you can find more information related to this in chapter 9: Social Media Storytelling.

 

Take your lollipop

For this blog post, I have reviewed Take this Lollipop, Hurst and The Wilderness Downtown, on the basis of their funstionality, visual design and structure.

Take this Lollipop

Probably my favourite of the lot, Take this Lollipop is designed to be an interactive horror film which uses information from the viewer’s Facebook Profile.

Functionality:

This short film has no real reason other than entertainment. The functionality is very simple. The site has been built using HTML5 and is a short sequence of scenes which have been shot prior to posting. These scenes remain the same. All a viewer has to do is connect his or her Facebook page to the website. There is no further direct interaction. It turns into a personalized film which I particularly think is very cool.

Visual Design:

Visually, the film is shot with very good quality which makes it more cooler. The visual design is done with HTML5 and the effects like the lollipop with the razor inside on the homepage are really cool. The visual design goes hand in hand with the functionality.

Structure:

The structure as mentioned before is fairly simple. The website first asks you to connect with Facebook, from where it then uses information to screen a personalized film. It is a short horror film, where the sequence has been shot beforehand and does not change with different profiles. It uses photographs and location from the facebook profile to tell the story of a staulker. In the end it chooses a friend of your list and calls that person the next victim, hence asking you to share the media.

Hurst

I enjoyed Hurst a lot because it was very different. The author of this story used tweets as a way to communicate the story, hence uploading bit by bit every few hours. I think it is an amazing feat due to the character limitations on Twitter. We have seen diaries come alive as books before but how cool is it that she did the exact same thing with an online diary of sorts, as we treat Twitter.

Functionality:

I wasn’t very moved with the functionality of this story because to me it is quiet a task to go through so many tweets if I decided to read it through. It works only as a one time read, if you come upon it while she is tweeting. A later read also takes away from the spontaenity and excitement of a story. The overall working is simple, scroll to the bottom of her tweets to the very first and read up. Plus it’s free and on a huge platform like Twitter so the reach is amazing. It is very interactive as a lot of conversations are built as per tweet and she gets everyone’s feedback almost instantaneously.

Visual Design:

There is no visual design as such in this digital story. The entire story is told using Tweets and inserting photos or videos using Frog or Youtube, respectively.

Structure:

The structure is very linear, telling one story using three platforms – Twitter, youtube and frog.

The Wilderness Downtown

Awesome. My classmate showed this one to me and I fell in love with it because of the music, the simple concept and the nostalgia it created. I might change a few things personally, but it is fun, even though the real message is lost in all the hype.

Functionality:

This website is easy to use. The first page asks for your childhood address after which a song and a few windows open up. A man is jogging and he is heading towards your given address. The Google maps street view has been used to do this. The reason of planting trees is lost as it becomes an entertaining video in the end and nothing more. It lets you write a letter to your child self in between the shots but this is also pointless. I wish it could have been to your future self and maybe an option to get it posted in real.

The functionality from the viewer’s point of view is great but not from the makers.

Visual Design:

The visual design is very interesting in this particular project. Use of film to show a man jogging to the music is interesting and adds a nice element to an otherwise bland setting. The use of google maps street view to find, jog and walk around the location provided acts as nostalgia inducing effect, which is absolutely cool. The animation of trees sprouting up and birds in the sky are cool but stretched out for too long. The website design is really good with amazing animation happening. It is also made using HTML5.

Structure:

As mentioned above the structure is fairly simple for a viewer but has obviously taken a long time to develop due to it’s various elements. All a viewer is required to do is enter an address into the box and sit back an watch as a man jogs on the streets around that address. After a while of this, the viewer is asked to write a letter to his former self, which is a little pointless and distracting. Once this is done, trees start sprouting up as the man jogs, bringing us to the long awaited end.

From the above projects, I tried to join ideas into my own digital story project. I use Twitter as a platform to pull my clientel. I got the importance and the amount of reach of Twitter by going through what was made possible by Hurst. Using HTML5, I built my own website, using a lot of modern technology, great visual design, functionality and simple usage which I learnt to do from the other two projects.

Review of a few projects

In this blog I have reviewed a few of my peers’ projects. Our CMWP projects were based on India and the culture there. It is really interesting to see what other people have come up with specially as our class is so multicultural.

1. 7 Days of Yoga

This blog page, created by Cassie, Shane, Peter and Tessa is a really interesting read. Having gone through it, I really enjoyed it. Yoga being such a great part of our culture, it’s really cool to see people all over the world embrace it. https://7daysofyoga.wordpress.com/

Some positives for me in this project were:

1. The content does not only revolve around the 7 basic stances that you can do to start learning yoga. I love that there is so much content about the history, what to expect upon doing yoga and the objectiveness of it all. I like how varied it is and I think a person can access this blog even when they are not just looking to add some basic yoga to their lives. I think it is very thought through and more than you would expect to find.

2. I love the photographs. Cassie is so beautiful and her poses are perfect. Just seeing these photographs can push someone to start yoga. They can be intimidating but at the same time, the one’s at the beach add to how yoga ca be fun and not just about spirituality.

3. It is simple, purposeful and fills out every aspect of our project. Most of the other projects have really gone out and done up their look and aesthetics more than the actual content and this project does stand out in the crowd.

Some weeknesses according to me were:

1. Aesthetically though simple, which I liked, I realized just how much you have to scroll down to view the blog and there is no simple way to access certain things. The site being about yoga should be made in a way where the reader can stay calm, if that makes sense.

2. The blog design itself, I would like to subtract the amount that’s happening there. I would have liked to see something around how Cassie’s original blog page is. That is beautiful compared to this. I understand how much content went in but it would have been nice to see some aesthetic components.

3. I would have loved to see some video’s to show me how to go about stuff as well as a great marketing image. Though photo’s have been used to pull people on various social media, a campaign or slogan or a more proffessional approach could do this website wonders.

I think I would just change the website design here to enhance what I want to sell and try to get one marketing image instead of using various shots.

2. Difference is beautiful

A trailer made by Francez, Dominic and Olivia, Difference is beautiful is well, beautiful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqrC2Bo0NTI&feature=share

The strengths:

1. I love the aesthetic quality of the video. It is beautifully executed. The animation is perfect and colourful to keep you interested. The music is lovely. Overall, Aesthetically and technology wise I think this is a very high class production. I have posted a poster of an actual Indian film below, a blockbuster, which this trailer reminded me of. To be able to do that is amazing.

Band_Baaja_Baaraat_poster

2. I love the idea itself – Difference is beautiful. Being in a new country, it is really this difference which brings us close and I love the idea of it for a film.

3. Good editing mix.

Weaknesses:

1. The content was not enough to satisfy my curiosity, do justice to the idea itself or even pull an audience. It was lacking a storyline which would entice someone to actually watch it. Could have been so much but was sold short and generating only a one minute video was definitely not enough. I would have liked more with a deeper story there.

2. The gestures used were silly. Could have been more thought of. The story runs differently from what is actually happening on screen which wasn’t too cool, I would say. More structure would have been nice.

I would definitely want to do more research on simple Indian or Chinese gestures used. Even go into more in depth general gestures. An idea would be to use elaborate actions and maybe even drawings. I would also try to make my shooting background more colourful to give me less contrast when switching between the animation shots and filmed shots.

3. A taste of India

This was just hilarious, a good way of forming an ebook/comic strip. http://www.booksie.com/literary_fiction/short_story/taste_of_india/a-taste-of-india

What I liked:

1. Easy to upload on any device. Good Technology, which definitely makes it stand out and you don’t mind giving extra time to read it. I think booksie is a great platform and would definitely like to use it in the future. I read it on my mobile device which was great.

2. I think the way it was handled, it is really comical. I had a really good time reading it and laughing with my friends. I think that’s a really hard thing to do and every little thing added to it. The photos, the cut outs, the slangs and the absolute bizareness.

3. I also really like how indepth the knowledge of the Indian culture, traditions as well as relationships are to the group. It shows through the story.  I think it is great for an Australian audience. Being able to make a story about one culture and sell it to another is commendable.

Weaknesses:

1. Horrible cut out’s. Could have been smoother.

2. Some of the slangs were really wierd and I did not really understand.

I would maybe do more research on India and definitely explore my skills with using tachnology more. Though that might take away from the comic value that they seem to be aiming at now, I would like to be more perfect with my job.

Well, these were the three I saw and decided to comment on. Looking at all of them helped me add to my own project because I wanted to be as in depth as 7 Days of Yoga, as colourful and Indian as Difference is Beautiful and for an audience from different cultures like the Taste of India. I have tried to achieve that and am looking forward to what other people think about my project.

Aesthetically wrong?

Screenshot (21)

OR

Screenshot (22)

I think one very relevant issue that we have faced with our digital project is the website design. We were always at block heads about it since our project revolves around blogging a story about an Indian girl and her path to self discovery, but at the same time acts as a website to discover new recipes. We weren’t always sure if the design should be more commercial or creative on a personal basis.

We have always read that a good website design isn’t something that just looks appealing to the eye but also something that enhances performance, astonishes the audience and is equally amazing with functionality.

“A good design is always the simplest possible working solution.” – Anders Toxboe

Eventually, we turned to the internet to research what the professionals think. From what I found, I have compiled a list here of everything we had to keep in mind while developing our website. This list has been taken from various resources, all referenced below.

  1. It needs to be functional
  2. Appealing to the eye, so bring out the creative thinking hats
  3. Intuitive – basically explains itself and isn’t very complicated for the users
  4. Long-lasting – don’t use elements which you think will go out of style like blinking lights
  5. Unobstrusive – Make it self indulgent but leave some space for the user to form an expression as well
  6. It needs to be thought through to the last detail
  7. Focused on the product and not the design itself
  8. As simple as possible
  9. Use of whitespace – Negative Space or whitespace is the empty space on your website. You want to give just the right amount of this to make your website less cluttered as well as aesthetically beautiful. An average of 30% is generally good.

Apart from focusing on the look, other aesthetics that we should be looking at included page layout, colours we used (apparently, every colour brings out a reaction, which is something you want to be careful with as a lot of that may depend on someone giving your website a real look through) as well as font and contrast of all the elements together.

Though these were all really good to start work on, it still didn’t solve our problem of going more creative like a personal site or more conservative like a commercial one. So, we started looking up examples of similar websites/blogs out there. Using my RSS feed, I found some examples:

http://cookingwithamy.blogspot.com.au/

http://www.indiancookingblogs.com/

http://thecookingblog.blogspot.com/

http://vidyascooking.blogspot.in/

These were some more relevant to our theme, and if you notice they all have a very commercial, kind of free, almost boring designs. I started thinking, and I knew that this is definitely not what we are looking for because these sites didn’t really engage me or give me a feel good factor to stay on them long enough. They lacked personality. These were just recipe sites and I couldn’t really muster any care for the stories behind them. But then, talking to my cousin, I came across one she suggested. It was her own site and she owns a restaurant in India that she used this website to promote. She has a lot of followers and they love her.

http://www.nomadbaker.com/

I absolutely loved it because it really brought out her quirky personality and I had a great time reading through it. It was perfect and my research came to an end here. Now, this website doesn’t really follow all the rules that I listed above, just the important ones and I decided that when it comes to aesthetics there are no real rules that you have to stick to, just some logic mixed with a little bit of design and fun can do the trick.

We made our website keeping functionality in mind but the biggest trick I believe that we discovered was to be honest and to put in a little bit of us into it. Aesthetically wrong? I don’t think so.

 

 

References:

http://ui-patterns.com/blog/What-is-good-design\

http://www.shire.net/learnwebdesign/aesthetics.htm

http://www.southboroughwebsitedesign.com/bestpractices/p2-aesthetic-website-designs.htm

http://dbanerjee.com/aesthetic-website-design/

Hashtags

Over the past month, I have been doing quiet a bit of research on hashtags as I am in charge of the Twitter page for the story we are creating for our CMWP class. Twub has been really helpful, so much so that I actually did not need to use any other search website. Our digital story is about a fictional Indian girl who is in love with spices. Spices have a lot of attributes which are believed to contribute to our lives. For example, cinnamon is a spice for love, often referred to as the Queen of spices. Our story follows her journey of self-discovery as she cooks various recipes to help change her life around.

For this I was succesful with hashtags like indiangirl, recipes, spiceandherbbible, travelindia, goa and a few others. I came across a lot of what people write or enquire about and got some great insights not only for our story but our audience research as well. I discovered that tomato and coconut based curries are more looked at or discussed than any other type. I also found a lot of stuff which added to my knowledge of the indian girl mindset. Being an Indian girl myself, you would probably find that thought really funny, but our story is about a very different girl who grows in different circumstances altogether. My most important or helpful discovery was what I actually got when I searched spiceandherbbible, which was a suggestion on the search bar. It turned out to be a book that people were discussing but I actually got a website name of one of the posts which led me to an entire list of spices and what they stand for.

All in all, I think my hashtag research really helped me out and I would suggest that you all try it out too for your projects. More than most times you find stuff which might not do anything for you but if you keep an open mind, the least it will do is tell you what audience you are looking at.