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Feel free to download it and read it… but do not forget to send some feed-back! Information goes both ways!
Enjoy, and keep following me on i-docs.org…
This website is now closed, but I will keep it alive for reference.
So… what’s next?
First a little rest – but not too much actually (it just does not seem possible) – or at least a little suspension time with no decisions on what to commit to. Obviously I am still teaching at LCC and looking after i-Docs, but I need to think where to concentrate the rest of my energies: more teaching? some consulting? some interactive production? a little of all these mixed together?
Time will tell. For now I keep my options opened…
But one thing is sure: I will look for ways to publish my PhD as a book (if you have any ideas of possible publishers please do get in touch!). So I was advised not to upload my final version of the PhD on this website… which is a shame… and I feel really bad about this. I am going to inquire if such competition between paper and online publishing really still exist (I thought it was all about the more dissemination the better!) and then I am going to decide.
The same about this website: although this blog was born as being part of my PhD I will keep the domain, probably redesign the structure and keep blogging. But for now all my new articles are being published on i-docs.org so make sure you follow that website if you are interested in what is happening in interactive documentary land!
For now it is a farewell, but I will be back very soon… till then, happy i-docsing!]]>
Exactly one week ago I sat in a very little room in Goldsmiths with my two PhD externals (which I will not name because I have not asked them permission to be in this blog) and a big book full of notes and tags on the table (that was my PhD!). It was kind of weird. I had passed a week trying to anticipate possible questions, studying my external’s publications, playing at devil’s advocate… and there they were, in front of me, and ready to fire questions…
Brrrrr… a little anxiety was there, on the back of my mind, although I kept reminding myself that those two guys are genuinely interested in the field of i-docs and that there was therefore no reason to imagine a blood bath… but you know, too many films with no happy endings…. too many years passed writing this PhD…
Anyway, the first question was an easy one: to link the PhD to the bigger story of my life. That was easy, I had fully prepared an answer to this, and actually the reasons for which interactivity fits well into my way of seeing the world is one of my favorite topics in life so… easy peasy…
We then moved into definitions of “change”… and historic overview of the concept of “interactivity”. I actually think this is a weak point of my thesis – as my ideas developed as I was writing – and I never clearly explained where some definitions come from, and why so many logics of interactivity (what I call modes of interactivity) need to be considered. Somehow this is clear in my mind but not so clear in my writing so… it felt good to clarify that what is missing on paper is easily explainable.
Slightly less easy was a question of methodology: why Cybernetics, and what are limits of such approach? Bizarrely I had prepared this answer too… but within the context of the discussion, within activism and my case studies… what I had prepared seemed very flat… so I had to blab something on the fly… but I knew, as I was saying it, that this was not 100% convincing… You know that sliding effect… you know when you are sliding but you do not know if it is better to make a fuss (showing that you are aware that you are about to fall) or if it is better to look “cool”… with the risk of ending flat on the floor. This is where having supervisors that are there to have a genuine discussion with you – instead of looking for a point where to attack – is very useful: we worked out a convincing reply all together… and this also allowed me to learn something new… quite refreshing really…
I can’t remember all the topics we discussed… it was two intense hours of discussion… and I was quite hyped – so can’t really remember clearly now that I am more relaxed… but the bottom line is that I passed with NO corrections – meaning: I am done!!!! Is this not amazing!!! A week later and I can still hardly believe it!!!
As I was waiting for the viva to start I tough about the waiting time before the delivery of my kids: you know that it will probably hurt, but by that stage you are so bored of waiting that you just want it to be over! Well… the viva proved to be very different than giving birth to a baby: first of all it was WAY less painful (but then, hey, other stories might say the opposite, you never know!) but more than anything it is all about staying in control – while my deliveries were more about letting go and hoping that things would work out by themselves…
More importantly: once a baby is born your life is super busy with feeding, changing nappies, learning to be a parent… while after a viva there is a sort of “baby blues” – that I did not have with my own kids!!! The “what next question” is obviously there, but the strange thing is that my life is all the same as before (even as busy as before – because of all the things that I postponed). Of course I have celebrated, and will continue to do so on and off during this month, but fundamentally it is over and yet… all feels the same…
OK, stepping aside from the poor comparison babies/PhDs… there might be more to come on the the PhD side – as both of my externals highly suggested to publish my PhD…
So this is where I am at: resting just enough to find the strength to start re-writing the PhD once more!!!!
Did I really say that?
As a result I was discouraged from publishing the final version in this blog… this really is a problem for me… as I have always shared everything through this website… so… I’ll have to think about it.
Many warm thanks to those that have been following my steps during this last years and… if you want to follow my writing do check out i-docs.org as, for now, this blog will have to reach its final full stop!
Bye for now,
But the feeling was of relief, not of freedom. I knew it was not finished. The Viva is when it finishes… and so one has to wait.
So… I am now in waiting space. When I was writing the difficulty was in not knowing where I was going, now it is in not knowing where I will arrive. The Viva is unplannable. Yes, I am re-reading my thesis and some other stuff to feel like if I am on top of things, but the reality is that I am not. How could I? Can anybody know it all? Can anybody have an answer for everything? Probably not, and certainly not me. Actually, I particularly praise myself about knowing that I do not know. I always thought that limits are good… they are there to be challenged, but also to give a scale to humility…
So I am in a waiting space with no clear boarders. I could do lots of things to feel more prepared and yet none of those would really guarantee anything. This is good news – as I have very little time in my hands, so at least I do not feel guilty about not doing more. Is this waiting space part of the process? I think I learned a lot from the “slow becoming” of research (see other post) but what am I learning from this floating state of anticipation?
Maybe it is all about accepting to be judged. Accepting peer reviewing. Accepting “the other” in my neatly wrapped PhD. Although that is what supervisors are for, the Viva is different: they have “supreme power”, they have the final word.
Maybe it is more about stepping out of “accepting mode” and starting “embracing dialogue”. Ultimately this is what a good Viva is all about: challenging ideas, bringing them to another level, making them alive again…
This is what a good Viva is… and what about a bad Viva?]]>
Anyway: the submission is only part one of the story. Part two will be the Viva, the defense of the PhD – probably in September or October 2012. Fingers crossed.
As you can imagine the version I have submitted is quite different from the draft chapters that I have published in this website. To start with I had to cut out completely the old chapter 2 & 3 (autopoiesis & from to observer to the enactor) because of word count issues (basically I had to cut out 30,000 words). The important parts of those chapters have been re-distributed in the rest of the thesis. Then I had to re-write chapter 1 (background & definitions) because so much had happened in the last 5 years that it was already too old… Finally I wrote a new introduction and conclusion to the whole thesis so… quite a lot has changed.
Once the whole PhD saga will be finished I will probably look for a way to publish it, but I also think I will upload it to this website – just to be consistent with the open logic that I have been following so far.
For now, any new article will be written for http://i-docs.org/ so… keep an eye on it.
I also upload here my new introduction. This should give you an idea of where I am with my thinking. Do bear in mind that it could well have to change again after the Viva… you never know…
Here is the latest introduction: SG_PhD Introduction
Ahhhh, and also: the title has changed too. It is now: The Living Documentary: from representing to co-creating reality in digital interactive documentary.
This is all from me now. I shall be back with more news during the fall.]]>
I am actually nearly there. I have re-visited most of my chapters and wrote an introduction. I now have to finish the re-writing, write the conclusion and fight with Word to re-format all the thesis and have some table of content that makes some sense… so, what I am trying to say really is that I will TEMPORARILY stop writing on this blog (or radically reduce my activity).
The priority for now is finishing the PhD, but I shall be back – sooner than later, I hope!!!
For the time been I suggest you follow our website http://i-docs.org/ where i-docs discussions are going ahead, and you will find a lot of interesting content (including a resource and archive link). As a co-creative director of the site I will maintain some activity there…
So, for now, it is a temporary good-bye. Thanks for having followed me during those years, and thanks to all of you who have sent me e-mails, suggestions and papers! I shall keep you posted of my next steps…
More soon… (I hope!).]]>
Effectively i-Docs is the conference I always wanted to go to: it focuses on i-docs, it allows critical thinking about the form, it invites authors to present their projects… but it does not turn into a “who can read his paper faster” exercise nor into a “who can sell his project and get money for the next one” either. I think our secret is that we are an academic conference that is not made by, or for, pure academics. We are all interested in both critique and practice, hence we try to balance both sides. And believe me… this is not very frequent in the conference world!!! I have been bored to death in the past by very intelligent people that did not realize that reading academic jargon in front of an audience is not the best use of their public presence, and by very creative authors that were so eager to sell their project that they were totally unable to answer to any critique to their baby.
In this world of “targeted events” i-Docs is a place of encounter and dialogue… and I have to say that I am delighted of having seen most of our delegates coming to eat a pizza together after the first day of i-Docs… for me that shows that the conversations are continuing outside of the conference, that people are forming bonds, and that the friendly and opened spirit that we wanted to create has worked. What an achievement! That makes me, and Judith Aston, very happy people
Now… for those that were not with us and where actually hoping to get a summary of the two days in this post… bad luck, I am not going to do so… and this for a couple of reasons:
1. I am so involved in the event that it feels impossible to report on it with even some vague objectivity
2. I was so busy presenting/organizing/introducing during the two days that my mind was not in the “listening mode”
3. other people have already reported on the event, so that might be the best route to follow…
Therefor I thought I would give you a few links that might be useful to catch up on what happened at i-Docs:
1. Our Storify page, agglomerating what YOU said about i-Docs (compiled by “Magic Jess”, our very talented Jess Lenington)
2. The articles from DocGeeks on collaborative and layered i-docs at i-Docs
3. The feed-back, and thoughts, on i-Docs from Brian Winston, Max Whitby, Kerric Harvey and Judith Aston
4. A transcript of the Jigar Metha session (18 day sin Egypt)
5. The comparative slides of the 3 authoring tools Popcorn, Klynt and 3WDOC (thanks for that to the excellent work that Eva Dominguez and Maria Yenez did for us!) – Actually, if this topic interests you do check Eva Dominguez’ article for Lavanguardia.com!
Voila’…. we are now already thinking about i-Docs 2013… Some people asked us to make it longer (3 days?), elsewhere (shall we start traveling and move to other universities?), with more workshops (shall we do more training?), with more installation works (how do we get the space for all this?)… so… ideas are flying around and we are pondering our options.
One thing is sure: your thoughts are welcomed, and we hope to see you again next year!]]>
Produced Feb 2012 to document the effects on the people who continue to be effected by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster. Shadowlands was the produced from the sounds and images brought back by Photographer Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong when they visited the area in late 2011.
The project had no traditional “beginning-middle-end” rather a collection of glimpses into ordinary peoples lives and beautiful images of places empty of people.
Built simply using html (a single scrolling page) and incorporating additional audio visual elements to enrich the viewers experience.
Simple coding along with the youtube CC feature allowed Greenpeace offices around the world to create their own language versions, including Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Korean & Hungarian to make this as internationally accessible as possible.
The video was produced to be shown at live exhibitions. The interactive exhibition can be viewed here http://www.greenpeace.org/shadowlands
If you are into interactive documentaries, i-Docs is the event you do not want to miss this year! You will probably think that I am a little biased in saying so – as I am one of the conveners of the event- and you are probably right but… you could also see things in the other way round: while I was inviting guest speakers for i-Docs I really made an effort to think “who would I REALLY want to listen to if I were to go to a conference on i-docs this year?”. So… in a way… as I am the first one to be interested in the topic… I can guarantee you that we will learn a lot this year at i-Docs.
I hope to see you there very soon!]]>
Arnau proposed to come up with 10 points that could illustrate the trends and novelties that the years 2011-12 are bringing forward. I thought it was a brilliant idea. As i-docs are getting more established as a genre we are witnessing the emergence of more production companies, more tools and more dedicated conferences around the world. So…where is this leading us?
Here are the 10 points we came up with. Please do reply to this post and add your own ideas to it. Or maybe… do even better: come to i-Docs 2012 (it’s happening in just a month time, on the 22nd and 23rd of March, in Bristol!) and… engage in a lively discussion with all of us!
1. Tools and HTLM 5 as the next revolution for i-docs
This is particularly true for the tools that make use of HTML5 because effectively they allow live data to be linked to a specific video frame. So… why making such a fuss about HTML5? Well… effectively it turns video into a hyperlink. You can now link every frame of your movie to live data that is somewhere else in the web. This could be a news feed, a weather report, a community of people that blog about your precise topic… or anything else you can think of!
Both the very well-known projects One Millionth Tower and 18 Days in Egypt have used Popcorn this year… and we are ready to bet that there will be many more next year! By the way, Jigar Metha (18 days in Egypt) and Kat Cizek (Highrise/One Millionth Tower) will both speak at i-Docs 2012!
Finding money for i-doc production is not getting easier in an economy that is in crisis but, nevertheless, some new players are entering the i-doc world. Beyond the traditional producers in this area – Canada and France – who already have their own mechanisms to grant through the respective governments, broadcasters and other entities, it seems that 2011 was a key year for other countries to enter the game. In the USA the Tribeca Film Institute and Sundance Institute have been very active – as they now have their own production grants. But also, newspapers such as the Time Magazine have produced big projects such as Beyond 9/11 showing that the press has no choice anymore but to produce its own interactive factual dossiers. We see newspapers and magazines as the new main entrants in the i-docs field… and this especially with the explosion of digital press via tablet computers and iPads.
3. New i-docs platforms
Tablets computers are the new flavour of the month and, with them, comes the necessity to find appropriate content to make full use of the platform. This is potentially a new economic drive to create more i-docs and interactive factual narratives. A few start-ups have already tried to take advantage of this new market. Condition One is effectively shooting 360 degrees films and allowing the user to navigate them by moving his iPad around – as if he was part of the action. There is something very appealing – and at the same time very disturbing – in moving inside a film as if you were part of it. Other companies, such as Touch Press have taken a different approach. Instead of revolutionizing filming they try to re-invent the book. Touch Press makes tablet e-books that are so interactive that they are becoming interactive documentaries. Max Whitby, director of Touch Press and ex BBC producer, will be at i-Docs 2012 to share with us his strategic thinking.
4. Augmented reality and layered i-docs
While tablet computers are making i-docs consumable on the go, mobile phones are also being used for documentary content. Using GPS can lead you much further than Google Maps! Locative documentaries have been around for a while now but new strategic tools, such as Layar, make it easier for any producer to layer reality with documentary content (it could also be seen on the other way round). We see companies such as Dutch Layar -which for now are tapping into a relatively commercial world of estate agents and shop retailers- as indicators that attaching audio, video and animations to a precise location is getting easier and easier. We forcast a new breed of layered-docs coming out of this strand. This is why i-Docs 2012 will have two panels totally dedicated to augmented and layered i-docs this year.
5. i-docs as a new form of activism
Documentaries used to be good at informing about social issues, while activists where the people that were active on the field. Information could lead to the wish to react – but there was no direct link between the two. Now… Facebook, sms, twitter are all tools that have allowed both the diffusion of information and the coordination of events of the Iranian elections and the Arab spring. Social media offers the link between information and action.
Recent projects such as 18 days in Egypt – where an i-doc is the result of user generated content – pose the question of what form of activism is emerging through social media. Jigar Mehta, that has just launched18 days in Egypt on the 25th of January, and then raised new funding through Kickstarter to involve Egyptian students in his project, will share his first thoughts, and screens, at i-Docs 2012.
6. Mixing fiction and non fiction: the trans-media way
Mixing documentary (non-fiction) and game (fiction) seems a strategy that many interactive documentary producers are considering at the moment, probably because they are being inspired by the current trans-media trend. Pandemic 1.0, by trans-media guru Lance Weiler, and Conspiracy for Good are two examples of scary fiction plots that could well become real in a near future. This is where fiction and factual become blurry…Both those projects immerse the user in a plot where he needs to take a very active role. Mixing real locations with web investigations and group playing those projects show that there is a fine line between playing and re-enacting real world events. We can see this trend entering more and more into the i-doc production world.
7. Some new i-doc jewels
As the years 2011 and 2012 have seen a huge production of new i-docs it is very difficult to pick just a few and call them “jewels”… nevertheless, we have to take our hat off to Highrise that has kept experimenting and pushing the i-doc form for the last five years.
Sandra’s heart has gone soft this year while listening the wonderfully touching story of Bear 71 – yet another NFB’s masterpiece (where, guess what, guru Lance Weiler was involved) and her French aesthetic sense has been cuddled by the wonderfully elegant and poetic Insitu (which, despite not being very interactive, has won IDFA’s DocLab this year).
Arnau, on the other hand, was fascinated by how effective the combination between personal history generation and real time technology can generate a narrative. For him the i-doc jewel that explored this path this year was Walking the edit, by Ulrich Fischer (2011). In this ambitious project the user can ‘walk a movie’. The interactor just walks through a neighbourhood while his iPhone App tracks his progress and translates the itinerary into a story (drawing from a multitude of virtual information held in the ‘augmented space’).
8. New i-docs events and conferences
As i-docs are getting more and more recognised as a stand alone genre new conferences are emerging throughout the world.
We will have to plug i-Docs, of course, which is happening in Bristol, U.K., for the second year round. This year it will be longer and even more international than last year. We hope that i-Docs will evolve into a traveling conference, hosted by countries that want to host it around the world. But it is still early days…
DocShift Summit (Toronto, Canada) is also expected to run its second edition later in 2012. Our Canadian friends are so active in the i-doc world that it makes perfect sense to host an event from the homeland of the NFB!
Several congresses/symposiums are including sections dedicated to interactive documentary. We highlight the ICIDS (International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, Vancouver, Canada, 28 November – 1 December, 2011); the DNA Symposium (Narrative Digital Archive, Montreal May 13 to 15, symposium), the Europrix Academic Network Conference (EADiM, European Academy of Digital Media, Graz, 10-13 November 2011) and the Crossmedia Forum (Power to the pixel, 11-14 October 2011, within the BFI London Film Festival, 12 to 27 October 2011).
9. new i-docs blogs and websites
A few new blogs have emerged this year showing, yet again, that a community of “i-dockers” want to get active and be heard. Here are the main ones we have spotted…
This is the new French website of what used to be called linterview.fr. Although it is all in French it is a very well documented site and it contains lots of videos and interviews to i-docs producers.
The Docshift Index
A section of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC) with an index file that contains more than one hundred examples of interactive documentaries distributed by category. An extremely useful resource!
A website produced by researchers and producers of interactive documentaries. It has a good section on online resources.
A web portal started by the people behind the i-Docs conference (with lots of contributing editors). It contains a useful resource section but also academic articles coming from specialists in the field. I-Docs.org wants to be “a space for people that want to know more about interactive documentaries”, and generate discussion and exchanges within an i-doc community interested in critical analysis.
10. New i-docs training programmes
We have spotted a few new educational options that we feel we need to point out to you:
– The Documentary Organization of Canada (known as DOC) is the leading arts service organization dedicated to promoting, supporting and developing the art and business of documentary media in this country. DocSHIFT is set up as a branch of DOC, which focuses on providing services related to the production of documentaries for new media. They offer courses, workshops and seminars, among others, but what stands out is the docSHIFT Institute, a program of four months, led by Richard Lachman and Diana Arruda. The program is designed to have innovative ideas and projects on interactive documentary and position them as hits by funding resulted in the consultation, counseling, workshops and project development. The mentors of this program are Mary Barroll, Ilona Posner, Kat Cizek, Lalita Krishna, Marc Greenspan and Christine McGlade.
– The CFC-NFB Documentary Program is a unique laboratory for the development of successful feature documentaries, mid-length documentaries and interactive documentaries. Up to four accomplished Canadian directors with viable concepts for creative documentary projects are selected to participate in this unique program, which began in November 2010.
Although for now most of those educational centers are placed in Canada we really expect Europe to catch up. Or at least we promise that will do our best to push forward in our own universities new courses for interactive factual, and fictional, narratives. While the production world is moving ahead we believe it is essential that universities stop separating strands such as journalism, TV, cinema and new media… they should start creating bridges between all those creative media and offer to a new generation of born digital students a world where they can create their future!
This is all from us…. we will see in a few years if we spotted the right trends!
Sandra Gaudenzi and Arnau Gifreu]]>
Feel free to download it from here and to comment on it. But please remember that, like all the other chapters that I have uploaded on this website, it is a DRAFT. This means that you can still quote it (I will leave it on this website even after the completion of the PhD) but that it is probably full of little mistakes and that it could be seriously changed for the final submission.
Now that I have more or less finished writing “new” stuff I will start the painful “PhD re-writing” phase… This might take a few months and I will probably be quite silent during that time… forgive me if I disappear a little from the blog horizon…
In the mean time I will also put my efforts onto the i-Docs conference, that is approaching quickly: on the 22nd and 23rd of March, in Bristol, i-Docs we will give you the yearly fit of i-docs production and debate… do check our website and do put the date on your diary! If you have been following this blog you will like the conference!!!]]>
As my last chapter is all dedicated to participatory documentaries – where users can be part of the production process of the documentary- I thought that Global Lives was interesting in so far it pushes the boundaries one step further than just asking for user generated content. If you want to know more about Global Lives you can read the excellent post that Mandy Rose has published about it in her Collabdocs blog.
Here is my transcript of the Skype interview I had with David. Most of my question concentrate on the structure of governance – rather than on the project itself, which I already knew quite a lot about – because that is what I needed to know for my writing.
A Skype interview with David Evan Harris about the Global Life Project
Interviewer: Sandra Gaudenzi
SG: Global Lives is an original project because it allows the participant to collaborate at different levels: generating content and being part of a collective. Tell me how it all started.
05.40 (very bad line, DH is on his mobile phone and moving around. There are interruptions and background noises)
DEH: In 2007 we officially incorporated because we needed a form a collective for the ?? (noise in the background – impossible to understand the precise word) in the USA to get finance. That was the first time we created a structure. I had already worked on the project for a couple of years before doing that.
SG: how do you define who take part of the collective and what is its role?
DEH: We decided that anyone that had more than 24 hrs of their time dedicated to GL becomes part of the collective. It has been challenging to find ways to engage so many people. It is difficult to have meetings with all of them. So we formed a “Production Committee of the Collective”. This is formed by the people that have been partners producing the shoots or translators who particularly want to be active. So there are some people that just want to do a shoot and that is it but generally we do ask at the end of a shoot if people want to stay involved in the future. We use Basecamp to stay all in touch. That is the place where if I have a question or a decision I would post it to everybody.
People that want to stay involved receive a mail from us every 2 to 3 months giving them an update. Sometimes we ask them for an input. Sometimes we ask them to participate to a conversation on where an organisation is going. For the first couple of months we tried to have all the members of the collective participating by Skype, but this did not work. It was too much.
When I started the “Board of Directors” we had 3 in San Francisco and 2 abroad but over the years they became less and less involved. So it was difficult to know how to deal with that. I used to work from my flat (first in Brasil and then in San Francisco). So when I moved to SF we had this issue that the enthusiastic people in SF wanted to do more stuff but it was hard to work with the others because of the time zone – and also we were privileging people with an internet connection. So we decided to have a producer of a shoot to be on the board of directors and their responsibility was to be the voice of the collective to the board so that the Board is the official Governance structure of the organization in the USA.
At any Board meeting there are one or two citizens participating to the board meetings.
The first citizen was Jason Price and he was the producer of the shoot in Malawi and he was on the Board for almost 2 years. He moved back to Malawi so now we are in the process of replacing him.
DEH: Last week-end we had a Board of Directors retreat and we discussed what is the relation between the Board of Directors of the Organization and the collective. We are 11 (me, one person representing the collective…) We try to follow the model of the Wikimedia Foundation. They have 2 or 3 seats reserved for the collective, the big problem for us is that we do not have money – so we have difficulties flying people to the board meetings from all over the world a couple of times a year. If we had money we would do that, but we do not have it.
DEH: What we did last year (in 2010) we did a meeting at the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts (San Francisco) exhibition. For that meeting we had some money to fly a Swiss and Australian to our committee (they are the producers of the Lebanon and Kazakhstan). We used Basecamp beforehand to ask all sort of question to the collective – about the strategy and all sort of other things. Then at the meeting we had about 10 people. It was not perfect representation but it was quite good. We used the meeting to see where we wanted GL to be in three years’ time.
SG: So what is exactly the relationship between the Board of Directors and the collective?
DEH: The Board of Directors understands its role as trying to secure the sustainability of the organization, making sure it has the infrastructure that it needs, but the Board also understand that it needs to meet the ideas of the collective.
When we did that meeting of the collective in February we broke the group in small areas and one of those was “Governance”. But interestingly nobody wanted to talk about it! Those guys are filmmakers and they do not want to deal with this. They want to keep filming, not decide about organisational issues. They did not want to change anything.
SG: do people not want to give ideas on what shape will their filming take? Whether it is open source or not, on the web or not?
DEH: Not really. They want to concentrate on shooting.
For the open source, I had decided from the beginning that anything we do has to be with the Creative Commons, so we are not coming back on this. We use the attribution through non-commercial (Creative Commons BY-SA-NC License) – which means that it is open source but we need to know when you are using it.
There are two issues: the copyright and the privacy, publicity rights… those are all different issues. I did send a call to the collective to change the licencing, but most people did not care. Only one person had feedback about it.
SG: in your current site one can see the videos but not download them. Are they already open sourced, or did I miss something?
DEH: For the last year I have tried to get all the content to the Internet Archive and to YouTube. It is a lot of stuff so… it is taking time. We have done a special director non-profit account with YouTube so we can upload large files but we need an intern to standardise all the videos and upload them all. It is work on progress.
SG: In your TED talk you present an interface of GL that is not the one of the current website… is this a demo?
DEH: Those are mock ups of our future website. We got a grant for $20,000 to redesign our website from a foundation in SF called the Christensen Fund and we also got commitment from the design firm behind the TED website. They have agreed to do the design part of it for free but the problem in the Internet if the coding so we are trying to raise more money for it.
It is one of those things where it is easier to find a crew to shoot for free in Kazakhstan than to find a web programmer in SF that would do it for free. Those people are getting paid a lot of money and they have no time. They are all very happy to talk to me about it, but they have no time to do it.
The website you see now is completely done by volunteers.
SG: Imagine you had the money you want to redesign the website. Who would take the decisions for what the website does and what it looks like? How would this type of decision be handled?
DEH: Last year at the committee we did talk about the website and we decided all the features that we wanted to see in it. The mock-up that you saw was the result of that collective brainstorm. There are a few features that I did not show there – one allows a sort of kickstart logic, where people can ask for donations to start the shooting in their area (and also request the help of crew members).
SG: Were you sitting on that meetings and giving your own ideas, or where you just listening to the others?
DEH: I try to shut up in those meetings!
The big problem will be when we have ten features we want to implement and we do only have the money to do a few. That is where we will have to decide which ones we do first and which ones we do not do at all.
One thing that we do have in the Board of Directors is a “Web committee”. The person that represents the collective does sit in that Web committee. My job is to raise money. Once we have it the Web committee will start meeting with the designers to figure out what is possible. So the input from the collective into the Web process will probably come through the Board. We will probably do all kind of surveys and analysis of the current website to see what the user is doing.
What do you think? What would you do?
SG: Well… the problem with collective ideas is that you still need someone to select them and bring them forward. The other option is to try to rule by consensus and ask people to vote on every single decision – but this can be messy. This is really the challenge of your type of project: to try out different logics of democracy. There is no one solution but a lot of ad hoc ones. It really depends on what you want out of your project. You have to take a political decision of authorship here.
DEH: Yeah… I try to look at the model of Wikipedia, this is a project where everything is open sourced and if you want to make a new version of our website you can. The videos are all here, and go ahead. Any forking is possible…
SG: There is difference between doing a collective encyclopaedia and a collective documentary. Everybody has an idea of what an encyclopaedia looks like but a movie…
DEH: When you spend a year of your life translating videos that other people have done you feel a real feeling of ownership of it. The people that did fork Wikipedia I assume where unhappy about behind part of something that was taking a direction they did not like.
The real question that you are maybe not asking, because you are not inside of the organization, is the idea of creating a feature long documentary. That is a conversation that we brought up after our February meeting – because it came up during the meeting. People wanted to use the GL footage to create a 90 min linear piece. This could be sent to festivals and showed in classes – it is an easier to access media.
SG: Was this idea not something that you had considered yourself before?
DEH: This is actually something that I never wanted to do when I started the project. But we have noticed that it is really hard to get 10 people together to build an installation and create an environment, while a movie would be much easier. We opened up this discussion on Basecamp and I drafted a document with things that came up in the collective and I started showing to people that work in the film industry here. There is a TV station that is interested. I came back to the collective with that and people really wanted to do it. So I started investigating about this world of feature length documentary – finding out how much they cost, how to fund it, how to work on it… and the more I found out the less I liked it.
SG: Maybe you should hand over this part of the project to someone that knows how to do documentaries and enjoys it!
DEH: That is probably what is going to happen.
SG: how can you handle doing all this work? If every time a new idea comes up in the collective you try to make it happen it can quickly become unmanageable…
DEH: I have no solution yet…
What I think is that GL is like Wikipedia a do-ocracy, based on doing, if you want to produce something and go ahead with it, off you go…
SG: Is the system you have put in place scalable? If you start employing people do you have to change the structure of Governance?
DEH: I think that the idea of do-ocracy makes a lot of sense for us. If someone wants to do an exhibit that looks totally different from others… just do it.
As we grow the organization I would like to make it happen in a way that is not disrupting the organization as it is. There will be things that will have to change but I want to keep the principle that the staff should serve to empower the volunteers.
SG: When Wikipedia started employing people a certain division between “professional” and volunteers did create problems of roles and competences. Full time people tend to take over and control the group… could this happen with GL?
DEH: Right now I am part time with GL and I get paid the minimum wage which is not enough to live off and I have a job that pays more. I also have an employee that works full time and gets paid more than me. She helps in everything (…)
I would like to step back from my role and go back to be a volunteer and put together other exhibits. But this is impossible right now because we do not have the money to hire a director of the organization.
SG: It must be tough to constantly raise money. Do you have a regular source of funding?
DEH: Every year for the last five years we have managed to raise more money so to keep growing in that track we need to hire some staff. I am also thinking what if, like other similar organisations, we started having local offices. But for now that is far off.
SG: It is a challenge to be a non-profit organisation that is not trying to generate money, so one wonders if it is sustainable in time…
DEH: I have a problem with the idea that because you are not a product you are not sustainable. There are plenty of organizations, from Greenpeace to Wikipedia that have survived through the years purely on donations. We do not have a fee or a product but we generate money from three different sources: donations from individuals, sponsorship from foundations and we also sell some DVDs and we also have exhibit commissions. We also do events to fundraise for the project. I think that throwing out parties is actually doing pretty well. It is not a traditional business model but it is a workable model.
SG: Of course… I wish you all the best! Thank you David for your time!]]>
The programme of i-Docs 2012 is now online and you can already purchase your tickets !
Following last years success i-Docs 2012 has been expanded to two full days and will take place in Bristol’s Watershed Media Centre on March 22nd and 23rd. Convened by Judith Aston and myself, on behalf of the Digital Cultures Research Centre, the symposium brings together producers, scholars and students of interactive documentary to grapple with the diverse practices and theorisation of this fast developing field.
Last year i-Docs 2011 had one basic message: i-docs are here to stay, and they should be seen as a form on itself (not just as the evolution of linear documentaries). So the conference was arranged to give an overview of the sub-categories of i-docs that we could see emerging: collaborative docs, cross-platform docs, locative docs and database narratives. The event was very successful and we decided to make it a yearly event.
So… this year we are back. We have taken into account the wish of most participants to have more time to discuss and exchange ideas so we have made the event longer (2 days) and we have incorporated a variety of formats (panels, labs, workshops and feed-back sessions) to make it a dynamic event. Since we do not need to establish the genre anymore, this year we are focusing on some key questions/issues that we are seeing developing around us. The following are the questions that we would like to open to debate at i-Docs 2012 (and please have a look to the call for participation to see how those questions split in more areas of investigation):
1. User participation in i-docs: how can the act of participating change the meaning of an i-doc?
2. Layered experience, augmented reality games and pervasive media: are locative i-docs changing our notion of physical experience and space?
3. Activism and ethics: how can i-docs be used to develop new strategies for activism?
4. Open source and the semantic web: how are tagging video, HTML5 and the semantic web opening up new routes for i-docs?
There’s a very strong lineup this year including keynotes speakers reflecting cutting-edge and award winning work – Jigar Mehta (i8 Days in Egypt), Brett Gaylor (rip! A Remix Manifesto, Popcorn Maker) , Submarine Channel (Collapsus), Katerina Cizek (Highrise), who’ll be presenting via Skype, as well as the esteemed documentary scholar Brian Winston, from whom we can expect a challenging intervention. Panels will look at themes including Layered Reality, Participation and Activism. An important feature of this year’s symposium will be sessions examining some of the key emerging tools for authoring and creating web documentary – Popcorn maker, 3WDoc and Klynt. It’s a rich programme with concurrent sessions running much of the time which has been carefully structured to provide the space for in-depth discussion of work and ideas.
I really hope to see you all there!!! This is going to be a fab 2 days!!!
In the mean time do explore the i-Docs website which is fast becoming a rich resource for all people interested on i-docs (from a research and academic point of view). You’ll find academic and blog references, an archive of existing i-docs , a forum open to discussions about all the possible forms of i-docs you can think of. A team of experts have joined forces to open the discussion on what is interesting and/or new in this emergent field, and on the ethical, aesthetic, political and financial consequences of the i-doc genre. We welcome your participation! Feel free to mail your papers and ideas to the co-editors of our discussion section, or simply comment on their posts.
Do spread the news and do participate!]]>
For documentary lovers IDFA (Interanationl Documentary Festival Amsterdam) is like a sweet shop full of wanderful temptations… and for the interactive documentary festival lover it is a bit as a treasure hunt… where lots of jewels can be found, and they are spread here and there in the city. Could there be a better excuse to visit such a wonderful town as Amsterdam?
I went to IDFA just for DocLab (the new media part of the festival), where fifteen idocs have been selected to illustrate the best stuff around this year. Follow the link to see their selection. The man behind DocLab is Caspar Sonnen: as early as 2008 he understood that the idoc genre was here to stay and to expand, and he created DocLab – that is still one of the best places in the world to spot and discuss interactive documentaries.
But there is more than fifteen idocs at DocLab: there is an exhibition space dedicated to idocs experiments and installations – Expanding Documentary – lots of talks and live presentations of projects by their authors, and also a forum where a few interactive projects are pitched in front of commissioning editors and potentially funding partners (this is the match making part of the festival).
So… what did I come back with in my DocLab goody bag? The jewels I found through my own teasure hunt are of different nature: people, projects, ideas and debates got all mixed up in my DocLab reward bag, and this is why it is so difficult to give them an order. I shall try.
First: simulating reality, rather than representing it, can be very powerful – but it needs an aim
I enrolled to, and tried personally, the experimental 3D VR project presented at the Exploding Documentary exhibition: CAPE. CAPE is a virtual walk through a 360 video world of Brussels where a virtual character guides you by hand. This is a bit difficult to explain, so I shot a video to explain it better.
The plot itself is just a tour around strange places in Brussels, but what is interesting is the possibility of being catapulted physically in another reality and adapt instantly to such virtual real/physical space. How can this technology be used in documentary genre? I could not help but linking it to Nonny de la Pena latest experiments – such as Hunger in LA (to be launched at Sundance Festival in Jannuary!).
Second: interactivity needs to be meaningful and project-appropriate
I finally met Casper Sonner, the guy beyong DocLab. He is the sweetest and most competent person I have met in this field for a while. With a typical Dutch casual and relaxed style he manages to hold together demanding guests, technical issues, introduction speeches and last minute panics. When introducing the idoc genre said something that made me laugh: “interactivity is like salt: it does not get better if you put more of it”. This is so true! How many projects are currrently adding features just because “it is possible”? Should we first not question what we want to create – as an experience, as a meaning- and only then decide what sort of interactivity is appropriate to convey such message/feeling? This brings me to my thirds point.
Caspar Sonnen at DocLab 2011 – photo by Sandra Gaudenzi
Third: the art of mobile Apps – interactivity as a way to perceive our environment differently
Barcode.tv had a double presence at DocLab: there physical installation where one could pick up white plastic objects in a room and barcode them to trigger a video (it was not working when I tried it and, to be honest, I do not think that as an exhibition it was particularly meaningful) and there was a Live presentation and debate of the project by David Carzon (Arte) and Hugues Sweeny (NFB). If you go to http://codebarre.tv/en/#/en you will see a sentence: “objects are like mirrors- they reveal who we are”. This ambitions project starts as a mobile app, and only later became a website. The aim is to make you look at what is around you with different eyes. If you pick up an object (the act of selection is already a step towards awareness) you can then either barcode it by photographing it with your phone, or type its name into the interface. This will spring up a video linked to the category of object you have selected. A pool of 30 artists created a 100 videos for barcode.tv
Carzon (ARTE) and Sweeny (NFB) presenting at DocLab – photo by Sandra Gaudenzi
When I first tried Barcode on the web I could not see the point of it – probably because the videoclips are not clearly connected with the object you have picked up (it is linked to the category of objects – so if you take “shoe” it will put it into the “clothes and fashion” section, and you’ll might watch a video about umbrellas…which might be a long shot from your original expectation). I think this is a floor in the project. But on the other hand I can see how, as a phone app, it makes total sense: it uses technology not to learn about things, but to see them differently. This type of idoc is not trying to inform us, but to get us out of what we perceive (or do not see anymore) all around us. This is quite powerful stuff! My next point goes exactly on the opposite direction…
Fourth: Proposition One or the art of immersive video.
Condition One is a technology (a technique of shooting with special lenses and a software to edit the rushes and author it for tablets) that is being launched and marketed at the moment. This is not a project per se, but a new way of presenting 180 degrees video (might be 360…I am not sure) where the user can navigate immersive video via his/er tablet or iPad. Imagine a gigantic image of which you only see a portion – the size of your iPad. In order to see the rest of the image you need to move your iPad around. This is supposed to make you feel part of the action. If you are not getting the concept – as it is quite complicate to explain it- do have a look to a part of the presentation that I recorder while I was there:
Now, this is a use of technology that is not trying to show you what you do not see, because what it is aiming at is the opposite: give you the feeling that you ARE there. This is not about changing approach, but about feeling immersed in the action.
They guys at Condition One did the fundamental mistake of using war footage to demo their technology. Show this at a documentary festival and you switch on a bombshell: is it ethical to let you navigate into a war scene full of dead bodies? is the role of the filmmaker, and the editor, not to select for the audience what should be seen? and if the filming is done at 180 degrees, then what is the point of having a cameraman – as there is no framing to be done? Wowww… the debate got quite animated!
But as Caspar Sonner rightly pointed out when you are browsing through the scene on your iPad you are effectively becoming the cameraman, and at this stage what is interesting are the decisions that YOU are going to make: are you going to watch that dead body or are you going towards that kids that needs help? We might have to learn when to use, and how to use such immersive video technology, but what is interesting is that along the path we’ll might learn even more about ourselves! Speaking about ethical decisions, which ones would we take if we were there?
This again points at the fact that technology per se is meaningless, it is its context of use that makes it useful, or not. And with “context” I move to my next point…
Fifth: the interface as context
Context is what gives meaning to our acts. Everything is situated. But what creates a context in an idoc?
While Bruno Masi was presenting La Zone, an idoc about the ghost area around Chernobyl, I could not help noticing that his project made much more sense to me while he was explaining and introducing the videos, live, than when I was navigating through it on the web. The reason is clear: Masi was aurally expressing the context of his work, and therefore providing it, a context that is lost in the project itself. The three levels of navigation that are offered to the user are guiding through layers of videos, but they do not explain why such videos are crucial and how they might be meaningful within the global narrative. Arranging content into three levels gives videos an order, like in a map, but not a purpose nor a meaning.
As Sweeny and Carzon said in their presentation, color, font, navigation and interface all give meaning. The interface is as important as the content. And to this I would add that the interface does not only give the tone, the look and the mood of a project, it offers the entry and exit points, limits and possibilities… which effectively is what context is and does…
And finally: from desolated zones to playful cities…
Sixth: INSITU, or interactivity as playful poetry
INSITU has just won Best Digital Documentary at IDFA!!! Congratulations Antoine Viviani!
Interestingly enough this is probably the least interactive of all the projects that were presented at DocLab this year- it is effectively a 90 min movie on urban art performances covering different countries, with three interactive points. Refreshingly director Antoine Viviani does not see interactivity as a must have, but as a plus that needs to be weighted depending on the topic of the idoc. Since INSITU is a symphony of city poetry – I sincerely suggest that you watch it online, as it is really so beautiful and subtle as a movie – it generates a dreamy atmosphere that does not call the user to act or change the plot, but rather to dream with it, maybe by listening to people’s thoughts in the tube, by a simple click of the mouse…
INSITU proves that interactivity can be linked to fantasy, playfulness and dream, and does not always be linked to decisions or choice.
In conclusion: a lot of interactive projects have been presented to DocLab this year. Please go an see their website as I cannot review them all. What I came back with from this trip to Amsterdam is a lot of fog (litterally!) and the conviction that it is not technology but a carefully balanced syntax between interactivity and context that makes a project work, or not. Interactivity can lead to choice,to dream or to immersion, while context can be provided by a narrating voice or by an interface… but those elements need to work together to build a whole.]]>
Kat Cizek, and her NFB team, have just launched Highrise’s latest baby: One Millionth Tower.
This is the fifth experiment in four years of what is now becoming a networked documentary, rather than a simple idoc. When Highrise started at the NFB in 2008 it was described as a “multi-year, multi-media documentary” but I have to admit that the whole concept was not very clear to me. By the time Highrise launched Out My Window, in 2010, the idea that digital media was not just used to document vertical living, but rather to explore it, started to make more sense to me. But I had to write an article to understand how each of Highrise’s offsprings was not a separate project, but a new bridge that continued an exploration started before. I then called Highrise a “relational object”, because it became clear to me that while each project had its own goals, its characters and its interactive logic, as a whole, if you zoom out of it, Highrise looks like a series of pathways that slowly link territories that were not connected before. I suppose it took me time to see this because each project being so totally different (the Thousandth Tower invites residents to document their vertical living, Participate asks people around the world to upload photos on Flickr, Out My Window uses 360 degrees video and allows you to understand people’s lives through the exploration of their flats…) they feel as separate units. In a way they are: they use different technologies, they involve different people and they are made for different purposes. But then, in another way, they also have things in common: they all speak of vertical living and, more importantly, they treat digital media not as a way to document the world but as a way to change it. While Highrise opens up the discussion about our vertical cities at a global level, it also stays focused on its goal: empowering local people to change their environment, if they wish to. Global in scope and yet local in action. Empowering the subjects and informing the world. Macro and micro linked by a narrative thread. Technology used to push the limits, and create the new…
Now… if you see it like this, this relational objects starts to have a life: it creates a dynamic of change and then it moves to its next challenge. Like the rippling effect of a stone launched in water, each wave leads to another one. And yet: it would not have been possible to predict the next wave, as neither Kat, nor her team, are trying to control this living network, the just make sure it can evolve. Seen like that Highrise looks as a fascinating living network to me…
It is with all this in mind that I arrived to London’s Frontline club, on Monday 7th of November, to see Kat’s presentation of their newly launched One Millionth Tower.
This time Highrise experimented with 3D spaces, Popcorn technology and webGL. Why going in such controversial gaming aesthetic when you come from video and documentary? Well… to start with Kat is a documentary maker, but she has a background in graphics and photography – which explains a lot about the aesthetics of Highrise mixing stills and playing with 2D and 3D representation of space. But more importantly One Millionth Tower has a story: the residents of a tower block have been involved into the redesign of their communal external space, they have worked with architects to imagine the possible and then with animators to visualize the possible… this is what is being documented thought the project… and since it is about redesigning space, then they have decided to visualise it “in” space, hence the 3D navigation.
Now… what is it that is visualized in One Millionth Tower? The 3D world that they have created is NOT just the final result of such common production. The animated view of what the space could look like, if there were fundings to build it, is just ONE of the SIX stories that are being told in One Millionth Tower. This means that the 3D world that has been created is more than a standard architectural 3D animation: it is a storyworld. And what does it contain?
This is where it gets tricky, as my computer graphic card is not good enough to support webGL… so I have not managed to experience the space by myself. But here is what I understood during Kat’s demo – and I include a short extract of her presentation for the 58% of people that, like me, rely on already-old-media to study new media!
Extract of Kat Cizek’s presentation of 1MT, London 7.11.11 – shot by me
So… while you are moving with your arrow keys into the 3D space, two technologies are working together: webGL allows the 3D experience to happen in the browser while Popcorn.jr links the place you are in to the next action script, and to real time data – so that if you are exploring the space at night, Popcorn will link to the real time and weather conditions at the tower block. Popcorn acts as a conductor of your experience – making sure that things do happen to you, as in any good game environment – but it also links you back to reality (real time and weather in Toronto), because this is not a game, it is a 3D documentary experience.
And what is a 3D documentary experience?
Nonny de la Pena has already plaid with this concept in 2007 when she re-built Guantanamo Bay in Second Life. In Gone Gitmo 3D space was used to simulate a reality to which neither the media nor the public had access to. The 3D space was built by using rigorously documented material and the user would experiment what it is like to be locked in Guantanamo Bay. The interest of the project was that Second Life was used to simulate things that exist in reality, and to reflect on them.
But in One millionth Tower, the reality is still to be re-built. The 3D space contains a mixture of videos and graphics that sometimes speak about the resident’s dreams, sometimes show what their gardens could look like and sometimes leaves you wondering in the in-betweens of stories… wondering what sort of space you are in… trying to make sense of how you navigate and listening to the sounds that subtly guide you toward the next story. I cannot comment at the “user experience” of it, as it does not run on my computer, but by watching it being demonstrated by Kat I had the feeling that, as a space, One Millionth Tower feels a little too artificial. Although a lot of maestry has been used in mixing graphics, animations and videos – which is a challenge in itself! – it looked to me too much as a “container space” rather than an “explorable space”. Somehow I had the feeling that it was there to give me access to the six stories, but that the space itself had no independent life to be explored, I did not feel the urge, or pleasure, to get lost into it. I know this sounds weird, but anyone that likes walking into an unknown city would know about the flaneur’s pleasure found into thinking that a space is rich, rather than directive.
This being said, while Kat was navigating through One Millionth Tower it also occurred to me that although space is used to navigate through stories (much as in Out My Window, but just here it is a 3D space, and it appears larger than a single virtual tower) in reality the added value of it is in representing a dense and layered space. Let me explain what I mean by it: effectively the stories that are made accessible by such space represent different stages, and times, of reality. While you access time as “present time”, through a video of residents telling you about the absence of communal areas and paths between one tower block and the next, you move to “dream time”, listening and watching animations of what could be built, and therefore you land in “future time” as you visualize a possible space that Highrise is helping in becoming.
Also, different media are been used for different purposes: video documents residents’ ideas, graphic animations visualize a dream, or a potential, and sound creates the fluidity that links the two. All of One Millionth Tower seems to be a metaphor of Highrise as a whole: a space for linking present, dream, and future – a space for action. It is not by chance then that this time it is you, the “external user”, that have to navigate the space. Highrise takes care of making change possible by putting its subject in contact to the relevant authorities, and to the world, through the web, and through you. Now that you are watching you have been “linked”, “networked” to this web of change… what will you do? Browse? Make sense? Escape? This is now down to you…
Kat Cizek started her talk by reminding us Grierson’s definition of documentary as “creative treatment of actuality”. As I sit here thinking of One Millionth Tower I wonder… if the “actuality” is the need to feel entitled to participate in the construction of our own cities… what is the “creative treatment” here?
For me the “creative treatment” in One Millionth Tower consists in creating a space that can visualize our right to action. It is a space that tells the stories of others, but that reminds us that we are in that same space while we navigate it, we are not external to such reality, this is our world too. As a user experience it might be that this space does not quite work yet, or maybe it works for some and not for others, but what is important here is the message it sends out: we are all connected in creating a space where reality unfolds. Reality is layered, connected and in constant movement: where are you right now in this?
Plof, the wave has started rippling. I do not know where this will lead us to, but one thing is sure: the process has started and we are part of it.]]>
There will be a full presentation of One Millionth Tower on Monday that I will attend so… I’ll right more about it then!
This entrance was sent to me by: Blair
Download the game here
Watch the video:]]>
The Call for Participation is just gone public: have a look to it do send us your propositions for papers, presentations, workshops, panels or ANY alternative forms of debate!
i-Docs is rapidly establishing itself as a unique community event, where i-doc producers, broadcasters, academic, artists and researchers can meet and exchange ideas that will influence the future of i-docs. Don’t miss out!]]>
Now: the morning was all spend at explaining how trans-media is the next big thing – and how all major Hollywood companies should expand into it, if they have not done so yet. Trans-media producer guru Jeff Gomez was clear that Walt Disney had already embarked in this new revolution, and the lovers of Harry Potter will see how PottersWorld is much more than an advertising coup: it is a new logic of dialogue between the audience and the author.
All this is very good… new revenue streams, new jargon to learn, new creative opportunities, new trends to speak of at conferences… but what does this do for i-docs? – was my inner question. I started to wake up when Lance Weiler showed his latest mixed reality performance: Pandemic – a five days game/experience. In the same league, Christopher Sandberg too showed some of his magical productions, including Conspiracy for Good. They are all immersive stories in which people give up a lot of time – more than one day!- to live in the woods, sleep into nuclear reactors or re-enact World War I. Now… those are all mixed reality stories (games/performances?) that mix different media with physical experience in order to “feel real”. This seemed to be the clue point: when you are immersed in real life, it feels “real”.
My first reaction was: who the hell has the time to sleep for one month into a nuclear reactor (or something similar)??? This was obviously beside the point. The fact that I would have zero time for it does not mean that other people – that have a life, or not- are very happy to “go for it”. I suspect the point actually is another one: taken to this level “trans-media” has nothing to do with having a story world that is spread between more than one media, it becomes a mixed reality performance – as the part experienced in the “physical world” is the glue that then gives the participants the reason to go on their mobile phones, their iPads and computers to solve the quiz, or dismantle the conspiracy.
So: real life as the “experience”, and mixed media as “our tools”. Are we going backwards or forwards in our media approach here?
Also: the abundance of conspiracy plots is a bit sickening to my taste – although I understand how this is a good driver for the participants (but have we not all seen too many Hollywood films on this? do we really need to become the heroes of a movie we have seen a thousand time?). OK, I am being simplistic here.
But: if the clue of trans-media is to perform, what has Highrise to do with it? All of Highrise, and its others sub-projects, are accessible via internet. We might be able to send a picture through Flickr for Participate, but that is about it. We are not moving into a Tower block, we are following what their inhabitant see. So is Highrise a trans-media documentary? To my understanding, no. It is a multi year and platform agnostic project that keeps re-inventing itself, but not a performance, not a mixed reality documentary and therefore not a trans-media project either.
I know I am being a bit pedantic here. But sometimes precision is useful. What it showed me is that even trans-media experts are mixing projects that are certainly new media, often cross-media, but not necessarily trans-media!
And finally: how can the trans-media mixed reality logic be used into a factual context? Are there any projects that are “simulating” the real? Is it about re-enacting factual stories? Is it about building a real story – as it happens – as opposed to look at the past events? Those are really the questions that fascinate me: where, how, when can we build a reality instead of representing it… and what are the moral consequences of this approach?
And for those who are looking for inspiration in the mixed reality / augmented reality / trans-media world… have a look to the video below… I am sure that ideas will start blossoming!]]>
if not, just read more about it here, or check its website here.
Jonathan Harris at Pace/MacGill Gallery – Social Media Exhibition from Pace/MacGill Gallery on Vimeo.]]>
Eva Dominguez gives an overview of those 4 content editors in an article written for lavanguardia.com. Have a look to it… it will maybe give you some ideas for your next production!]]>
Although both dissertations have their weak points (they effectively needed some extra time to write a final draft) I think that they are both refreshingly positive and courageous. Moreover they use case studies to show how user participation in an i-doc can be life-changing (in the case of someone who decides not to join the American Army) or eye opening (in the case of 18 days in Egypt).
I am uploading both dissertation (with the consent of their authors) in the hope that students and scholars interested i-docs get inspired and continue the debate! Also, if you have comments on Filippo and Dickon’s work please send it here and I’ll make sure they get it.
Dickon Waring: Is there a role for interactive documentary within modern day activism?
Filippo Bonino: Is interactivity in interactive documentaries exploited at its full potential?]]>
CBC News correspondent Nahlah Ayed and Radio-Canada’s Ahmed Kouaou and Danny Braün spent two weeks documenting life in Shatila, a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut whose 12,000 inhabitants are among the oldest group of refugees in the world. The website’s interactive, street-level interface allows you to follow some of their personal stories from inside the one-square-kilometre camp and experience firsthand Shatila’s maze of cramped, dark tenements, narrow alleyways and shabby infrastructure. Some videos are obviously very strong and the web-doc gives a good feeling of what life might be like in the camp.
This is a strong web doc: the topic, the interviews and the interface makes it very powerful. My only draw back is the hypertextual mode of interactivity. I personally have some problems in feeling engaged when I have to select people and click on them. My attention span must be short, or maybe I am not curious enough… but I tend to stop my exploration quite quickly…
By the way: the authors’ blog is also quite interesting!]]>
This state of flux is nothing else than normal life: fluidity of possibilities. And yet, in the modern world in which we live we want to “see” things before starting them, we need to control them, be efficient. There is very little efficiency in research. Organisation can help, but luck and sudden grace have a big chunk too. No one admits this. It is in the “in between” that things happen, because connections suddenly are created. We cannot plan for creation, we need to let it happen. Although I always struggle with time in my life, and the idea of spending a day at the BL without any certainties that I will find the quote that I need infuriates me, I have to admit that the PhD will have taught me something: more than patience what counts is to have faith in the becoming… To let go of efficiency is to let go of control and embrace “affected experience”. Why have we not been taught to see life as a constantly changing dynamic experience? If our success criterias had nothing to do with the time it took us to get there but with the qualitative feeling of growth we would be less stressed and,maybe, more aware and “alive”.
After slow time, slow food and slow internet I suspect I am embracing “slow becoming” as my new mantra!]]>
What have I learned from the day?
First: that there is nothing better for energy boosting than discussing a topic that matters to you with people that fully understand what you are saying.
Second: that students often know more than us – but that I knew already!
Third: that it is a good, and useful, lesson of humility than to be reviewed by your own students.
Fourth: that I actually know what I am writing about (sometimes I doubt it, but seeing that it makes sense to others has comforted me on this one)
Fifth: that it makes sense to take a participative approach before starting my last chapter on “partecipative i-docs”…
And finally… lots of little things that are too complex to explain here but that I should start changing very soon!!!
Back to work then, and this time with lots of energy! Thanks, dear students!!!]]>
“Cote fenetre, cote couloir” Upian’s new webdocumentary (online since the 8th of September) is a co-production with French train national service, the SNCF. This is a strange mixture between documentary (it explains what happens during a train journey and how many people need to work to make it an efficient service) and fiction (you can follow the story of two young girls that are on board of the train). Effectively it is what is normally called a docu-fiction. Its form is very simple: two windows, on one you follow the point of view of the two girls and on the other one you follow the logistics point of view of SNCF.
If the script is at time quite cheese (but I suspect the audience are young travelers – which by itself is not an excuse because who said that they need soap opera lines!) what I think is interesting in this form is the use of sound to give prominence to one of the two videos, and the exploitation of points of view. Effectively the interface that is used in “Cote fenetre, cote couloir” is a simplification of Figgis’ movie Time Code.
If you remember Figgis did split the screen in four narratives which were playing at the same time – but only one sound track was dominant, allowing you to follow it properly while your brain was also following the other three plots from the side of your vision spectrum. Figgis also had an interactive version of Time Code, that he was performing at festivals, where he was doing the mixing of the narrative strands live, deciding each time which narrative would be dominant at each point and effectively constantly switching points of view.
What Upian has done is to go from four to two strands, but the clever part is to give direct control to the audience. A simple but effective logic: switch point of view when you like it by simply clicking on the video… Try it, it works quite smoothly. I am maybe not fascinated by the SNCF as a topic, but I think that this simple structure could well be used in lots of double sided situation: the justice system (barrister versus incriminated), school life ( teacher versus pupil), daily life (parents versus kids), politics (dictator versus normal people) etc….
What seems at the moment as a compromise between interactive fiction, interactive documentary and interactive corporate marketing could well be exploited in activists i-docs, or in lots of other fields!]]>
The price to pay is the coming back. I should be excited about all the things I have to do but they look alien to me at the moment… I am in a no-zone, like if I was detached from everything. Going from 35 degrees to 15 also means I have a terrible cold. So I am back and sick. Feels terrible….
I am sure that in a week or so I will be back in the rhythm of things. Once I am in the water I know how to swim… but I hate cold water… so I am wondering what I am doing in London! What I have learned during those holidays is how one can re-invent herself all the time. I love what I do… and yet, I could do something completely different. I suppose I love a lot of things… I’ll keep this as a positive note and try to feel lucky about the world of possibilities that are around me. Everything is in the glance… half full, half empty… I am lucky my daughter wakes up with a smile every morning… it fills my day…]]>
On Tuesday 2 August, SBS will launch the online documentary and interactive website, Goa Hippy Tribe (sbs.com.au/goahippytribe).
SBS commissioned this documentary project, releasing it first on Facebook – using the social network not as a marketing platform, but as an original content channel. In this way, the audience was able to follow the documentary in real-time and engage with the director, influencing his work.
Goa Hippy Tribe explores two of the major social revolutions of the past fifty years – the hippy movement, which changed the way we lived, and Facebook, which has changed the way we communicate. The project is about people who shared a common space and time on the shores of Goa, India, during the 70s ‘hippy revolution’ and how they re-united after more than thirty years, via social media.
SBS’s interactive website, sbs.com.au/goahippytribe, is distinctive in theme and form – featuring video interviews with the original ‘tribe members’, plus factsheets, music tracks, video extras and photo galleries, which become unlocked as you navigate your way through the site. This innovative story telling technique allows users to actively control which parts of the documentary they wish to view, rather than passively viewing, as they would with television.]]>
Between 90 to 120 minutes of poetic essays on city artists and performances moves us between Berlin, Paris, Anvers, London and other cities linking the reports to a participatory map – where people can upload their own city art discoveries. The city is re-descovered as a place to listen to (sound is given a lot of relevance in the film) but also as a magic place full of surprises: a man dancing with diggers, a group of poets whispering poetry to city cleaners, urbanists dreaming of building passages between buildings, street artists hanging out from buildings… and also magic Pamelia playing music with the city trhough her enchanting theremine instrument.
Although the latest baby of Arte’s website does not look very interactive to me, it nevertheless grabbed my attention through its subtility and finesse… For me In Situ would gain at becoming an installation… but even as a film it works well. Furthermore a certain activist theme is present through its interactive map, and its blog, that push people to express themselves and to create more in their environment.
See for yourself!
INSITU – international trailer from PROVIDENCES on Vimeo.]]>
As I was researching a little how AR has been used in museums and educational contexts I came across this great article by Gary Hays. His article reviews different examples of what he calls “situated documentaries via Augmented Reality”. I propose that you read his blog for a full review of the genre, but what attracted my attention is the coming launch of Londinium on the 25th of July 2011.
Londinium is the result of a collaboration between London History Museum and the History Channel. It is an app that allows people to walk in the streets of the capital and see on their iPhones’screens how ancients roman used to live. Through augmented reality video, layered into the streets, you will see gladiators fighting, builders creating and listen to Romans talking (apparently you will hear the voices of the forum around you as you walk!).
Now… this is clearly a nice education app…but is it an i-doc? I do not want to go into this debate of education versus narrative. If there are historical documentaries I do not see why an AR app would not count as a historical i-doc… but, anyhow, my point is another one: is layering reality the same as augmenting it?
Augmenting suggests “adding”. Obviously an app such as Londinium “adds” life from the past to life as it is today. I get this. But is this past not still present, although not clearly seen-able? Is the past not just a layer that makes the present possible and that is therefore still present itself? Is reality not just “complex” and “dense” because of all this layering?
When soundscapes were allowing us to listen to voices of the past, in the early locative documentaries (such as 34 North by 118 West), we were talking of a “scripted space” (Lev Manovich) or a “narrative archeology” (Jeremy Hight)… how can such space suddenly become “augmented” through video layers emerging on our geo-tagged iPhones? Is the assumption that video is “adding” (augmenting) more than sound?
My impression is that the arrival of AR apps on our iPhones has created the usual techno frenzy where “video AR” is “better” than geotagged sound, and therefore “more”. This is obviously to be taken with a pinch of salt. To me the fact that the extra layering is “video” just adds a visual representation on top of “real” one. Yes it is sexy, and so? How can this add something valuable to a possible i-doc experience?
Now, here is my take – for what it is worth: we all know, after reading McLuhan, that acoustic space is better at dealing with layers of sound – as they can co-habit creating a richer space… while vision tends to exclude layering (we only focus on one thing per time)… could it be that Video AR can blur that old distinction between acoustic and visual space? If that was possible, then the real added value of Video AR would not only be to distract our kids showing ancient Romans while we are in a traffic jam, but to gradually blur both ac0ustic and visual space into a complex space. This complex space is a layered one, not an augmented one. It is reality as it has always been: complex, layered, in constant movement and situated. The novelty is in the fact that technology allows us to visualize a little part of this complexity. Video AR does not “augment” our reality, if anything it “simplifies it”, but still… such simplification is a step ahead from the normal assumption that reality stops at what we can see and hear with our senses.
When I am stuck in a traffic jam I tend to forget that this is only one layer of the reality that I am in. Although it would do me lots of good, I tend to forget that around me are years of history, maybe also the becoming part of my future, I forget layers of thoughts, of smells, of cosmic causalities and of other people’s presence. If a Londinium app can show me the legs of an ancient legionnaire, it might distract me, but it will not solve my traffic jam frustrations, nor give me a full visualization of the moment I am witnessing and yet… but I will be one step closer to that complex reality that dictates every single moment of my life.
What I am suggesting is that Video AR offers to i-docs the possibility to document layers of reality. For me its potential is not to augment reality, but to offer a way to document some of its complexity.]]>
Bizarrely, dealing with day to day life (managing the household, making sure the family eats balanced food, bringing kids to activities and parties etc…) are the things that take most of my time. And even more bizarrely I do not count them as “work”!!! The house/family stuff just has to be done, but it does not count… how can this be? There must be something very wrong with the accountability of working time in my head… or is it a “cultural” problem? Now that I think of it I had a working mother that was facing exactly the same dilemma: her day was starting when everybody had finished theirs… and I can remember her frustration when my father was reading the paper while she was cleaning up the table!!! Oh yes… I can remember!
Although I hope that times have moved on – and I am certainly freer than my mother was – I can notice that I have the same default position: house work has to be done, but it does not count. The problem of this position is that, since the hours of the day are limited, one is constantly in the position of “being late” or “not having done enough”. Hence frustration.
In my adult life I purposefully chose to be a mum “available to her kids” (contrary to mine that was constantly running). But I also chose to escape the “frustration trap”. Contradiction in terms? Very possible….
And yet, if I want to put my mantras into practice, I will have to face my coming month of holidays with the ecstatic joy of the lucky mother/woman that I am, and get rid as soon as possible of the stupid guilt – “unachieved PhD”, “unfinished book-shelves in the kids bedrooms”, and “unfinished i-docs website”. There you go: it is not that I have not managed to achieve what I wanted to do before leaving – this would guide me into the famous guilt trap – no… it is just that life is too short and that I am too committed to enjoy it! There you go, this feels much better already….
Aysén Profundo is an interactive and multimedial documentary about
trades, traditions and typical life in Patagonia.
We invite you to a journey to the inside of our country.
We invite you to aysénprofundo.
Explore the project at: www.aysenprofundo.cl
artist: Pablo Ocqueteau, Philine von Düszeln, Claudio Vergara, Cristian
Saldia, Rodgers Hermosilla, Mauricio Osorio, Javier Encalada, Leonardo
The project has been going around the globe since 2008, both as a website and as a moving exhibition (not to mention the book, the DVD, the poster, the postcards and all the relevant merchandising). I have played with the website a lot of times, but I had not seen the exhibition yet… so I was very excited to catch it in Brussels…
The archive of footage is indeed mind blowing. And the fact of watching faces coming from the whole world, speaking to you about personal things, is really touching. Interviews have been devised by themes (family, war, women, fear, happiness, religion etc…) and each theme is projected in a hut (or in Brussels’ case there were lots of small rooms). As a result one browses through a gigantic space, coming in and out from viewing rooms, and moving from a woman speaking about death in an Indian village to a man speaking about love in Canada. If some times the experience is a little too “easy” (is it enough to cut back to back people just sharing a topic?)… I have to admit that the justaposition of themes and people can create some interesting contrasts.
For example: on the theme of “family” one could easily see how what we expect from marriage and children is culturally encrypted. The old man from rural Mali was obviously more interested in the sheeps that he got from his first wife than in some kind of soul meeting. But kids were good for looking after the sheeps, so it all made sense to him. When the cut moved to a German lady, she described family as “jail” – as the end of her independence. Love was for her an ephemeral dream. The next person was a Spanish girl that was dreaming of meeting the right man to give sense to her life through kids as, for her, family is the essence of love. The Japanese geisha that followed had sacrificed family life to live in the shadow of men that already had families – but wanted other things from her…
The fact of cutting from almost cliched people from all over the world allows a dissonance of answers which creates new meanings. If we all know that family might mean love at times, and compromise at others, it might slip our minds that families are also an economic systems in rural areas and that marital love might not be as essential as our culture wants us to believe. After all sheeps can be more important than passion in some part of the globe and, more importantly, love with the big “L” might not even be a requirement when looking for the perfect match.
So… there you are: a very simple idea (the one of creating a global database of how people live around the globe) mixed with a large budget (only possible if you are Yann Arthus-Bertrand) can be quite strong!
But more importantly: the fact of sitting in a room watching the interviews makes you spend a lot of time in the exhibition, and the fact of moving through space allows some interesting readings (for example: I noticed that the room about “love” was full of people, while the one about “women” was nearly empty… interesting no?). This is a completely different experience than watching the website: first because of space and time, but also because the pre-cut films that are in each room are edited specifically to highlight cultural contrast. This contrast is not always obvious when browsing through the website, as one jumps from person to person without selecting the topics – and without knowing which are the best grabs!
All in all I really enjoyed the exhibition and it made me realize, once again, that installation i-docs can be very immersive and very touching…]]>
Anyway… apparently I need to add another case study… oh well, it will have to wait for September then.
It seems now clear to me that completing a PhD is not only a question of research, argumentation and knowledge… most of it is about endurance and patience. The ones that arrive to the end of it are the ones that managed to keep going… in spite of everything…
My problem is that I am a curious person and that I am constantly attracted by new adventures so… I would really not say that patience is my strength… Yet, this is maybe what I really have to learn out of all this!]]>
I suggest you watch the video, as it rises a lot of questions… What it made me question is the difference between context of exposure to the piece and type of interaction. It makes a lot of sense to move within a space in order to understand, and experience, the scale of a flat… but really, what is it that we gain? Immersion, I suppose. In “immersion” there is the wow factor, the “hey, this is cool, I feel part of this flat”… but is this enough? Since I am not in the flat (I am in an installation space with another 50 people around me) how can we use such artificial representation to understand differently the same content that is on the web?
Would the mode of interaction be the key to add a layer to the piece? Space and scale are important for immersion, but is interaction not the next step to “relate” to content? From what I understand in the video people could interact by stepping into a spot of light on the floor. This means that instead of clicking an image with a mouse they phisically move into a spot of light. When movement becomes the key for change, things become interesting… in the same way that our world changes with us when we move within it (creating a whole where in and out is not relevant any more), an interactive documentary could use space to simulate, not reality, but our way to engage with it… This is for me the beginning of a new path in conceiving what interactive documentaries could do, or could become. I am not sure that moving into a spot of light is strong enough in this regard. After all this is a little bit too much a translation of the click of the mouse (a gesture that symbolises a decision). But… it is a beginning… To use our body as a catalyst for change is a way to realize how we perceive and relate to the world around us… and this is using interactivity at its most profound level!]]>
I was pleased to notice that long standing interactive video director Martin Percy has produced such interactive space, using a temple in Bali. Bali Temple Explorer is a video walk into a space where you can turn, zoom, listen to prayer as if you were moving within a video. It does not use a 360 degrees video (as used in Out My Window) but it gives the opportunity to link within video (rather than just photo). And now that it is there… what do I think of it?
When I tried to walk around it I actually got quite bored… interesting how “being” there is not the same thing as “clicking” there… there is no immersion, no reason to make such a decision…no incentive. The absence of narrative structure – when there is no reason for the exploration – makes things quite hard for the user… On the other hand the interface offers the option of a map that gives reassurance and some sort of scale to the explorer…
I also noticed that there is at times the option of having a commentary… this is where I think it starts to be interesting – as you have all the usual documentary language (shots, edits, music and commentary) mixed with the interactive options (moving away from there, going left, zoom in)… and I found that quite powerful. It would be interesting to explore that route more… a sort of idoc where you can follow a narrative and then just turn your head and follow someone else… a mixture between video and game logic…
To be tried…]]>
Annabel Roux has used the tools to make an idoc scoop.it page… check it out!
And if you wanted to know more about how to use webdoc.com, here is their video:
webdoc in action from webdoc on Vimeo.]]>
Basically I claim that the interactive documentary should be seen as a relational object, and therefore it needs a new metodology of analysis that is not film related. In my chapter 4 I coin the term Live Documentary explaining that the interactive nature of idocs gives them carachteristics and behaviours that are not graspable though film theory. I see in idocs levels of autopoietic behaviours (Maturana and Varela) that puts them in-relation with their user and their environment, and that changes both. I claim that assemblages theory (Deleuze, Guattari, Latour, DeLanda and others) can be useful to see idocs as layers of interconnected elements. Finally I establish four questions that I then use in my case studies to unfold both their autopoietic and assemblage nature.
Ok… this is a bit abstract and concise… but if you read chapter 4 it will hopefully be clearer…
If you do ever end up reading those chapters I would be very grateful if you could send me some feed-back on them. As you know all the material that is on my website is work on progress and it will need several re-iterations before finding its final PhD shape… I am happy to open up my research, and my thoughts, if this helps to start an interactive process of dialogue… if it stays only a one way process I think I would feel a bit cheated…
Also… feel free to use, but do not forget to quote!]]>
A very political and serious topic indeed, and this time the format is very linear – in the sense that it is a real film that can be interrupted to have enhanced information about key points, and that has a space for indepth information about the EU and the way the crisis is dealt with. The movie follows European deputy Pervenche Berès, who is encharged of the special “crisis” commission report. You can follow her in her meetings, in her thoughts, in her deep left wing beliefs and in her struggles to convince other parties… But more than everything you can follow her in her dilemmas: can we solve an economic crisis just with financial tools? Does is not actually need a profound moral evaluation of where our society is at? How can we start this discussion?
Contraty to Journey to the End of Coal, that was fundamentally photo based, with very little video, and a lot of branching narrative points – as you were made to play the role of a journalist/detective, this film is totally video based and much less stylised that the other one… But this is a “serious” topic, and the climate is more educational than adventourous/gamish. Have a look to it, as it is a rare case of intelligent reporting over a complicate political dilemma. I actually quite liked it, even if it is not very interactive, because its interactivity follows the folds of the problematics that it enfolds. What I mean by this is that while I was watching I was thinking at why the crisis is so difficult to tackle from a political point of view and, as I was thinking about such issues, the interactive options that appeared were allowing me to go deeper into my questions…
In the same way that a good teacher brings you to the point were you are curious about the next thing that s/he is about to explain, Rapporteur de Crise leads you through the labyrinth of the European Parliament with a calm, but secure, friendly hand. Quite difficult to achieve actually!
Have a look to Rapporteur de Crise.
More about Honkytonk
More about Klynt - the interactive software used to author it]]>
A Painful Glimpse Into My Writing Process [In Less Than 60 Seconds] from chel white on Vimeo.]]>
Have a look to http://www.chromaroma.com/ to play the game, or to read the BBC article to know more, or just have a look to the trailer below!
Chromaroma from Mudlark on Vimeo.]]>
Now that I am back home, and therefore back to work, I try to promise myself not to act too much as a running hamster again… but is it possible? Do we, do I have any choice? It seems to me that you are either in or out.
I am sitting here watching my 250 e-mails… do I have the guts to bin them all without reading them? And even if I only select 20 important ones, they all send me to other documents and websites that I need to check and read… each of them is a window on other hamsters’ cages…
I shall try to take it easy… at least for today!]]>
Do have a look to it!]]>
Also: Ann Danylkiw, a PhD student at Goldsmiths, who was a super extra active twitter on the day, wrote this blog entry on i-Docs.
And finally: Alex Butterwoth, the author of The World That Never Was , did write the following article on Illuminations’ blog.
Voila’, if you did not manage to be with us those blogs should give you a flavour of the day. Also, do watch out the i-Docs website – as we should soon upload some video of the day…]]>
Have a look to http://www.detective-avenue.com/ … Actually, I propose that you think of it like this: this is clearly a fiction… but how could we use the same logic and make a trans-media documentary that interests the 15-30 yrs old target group?]]>
I thought the reply was too long to fit as a comment, so I include it here as a post from Arnau. I hope you enjoy it:
On multi-platform production: the case of “Guernika, pintura de guerra”, the first catalan I-Doc (CCRTV, 2007)
From my point of view (and in relation to the post of Sandra Gaudenzi: It is sleek and it works; is this enough? (February 2, 2011, http://i-docs.org/blog/), which compares the projects “Brèves de Trottoirs” (Olivier Lambert and Thomas Salva, 2010/2011) VS Dans un Quartier de Paris (Janet Murray, 1996), and put forward the question about the evolution of gender in fifteen years of its existence, I think that this project perfectly illustrate the theme of the multi-platform production in relation to interactive documentaries.
Is a similar example to the first interactive documentary produced in Catalonia: Guernika, pintura de guerra, 2007 (translatable as “Guernika, war paint”).
As Gaudenzi said, “Brèves de Trottoirs” (translatable as “Sidewalk Shorts”) it is a 2010/2011 stylish French multi-platform documentary from writer Olivier Lambert and photojournalist Thomas Salva. The aim is to portray what they call “daily celebrities” living in a complex city such as Paris. […] Janet H.Murray had already realised a very similar project at MIT: Dans un Quartier de Paris.Murray’s project was done with a linguistic aim, but the idea was very similar: use digital technology (CD-ROM!) to simulate a walk in the streets of Paris and discover its diversity through the glances of its inhabitants.
On the other hand, 70 years ago, the German air command of Franco bombed Guernica, the Basques’ holy city. The brutal attack inspired Picasso to paint the masterpiece “Guernica.” Since then, this picture has become an universal cry against the barbarity of war. This idea led to the creation of a linear documentary called “Guernica, pintura de guerra” (http://www.tv3.cat/30minuts/guernica/home/), a project developed by the team of the program “30 Minutes” of Televisió de Catalunya (TV3).
The novelty and importance in this case is that, alongside the audiovisual documentary (http://www.tv3.cat/videos/219786691) and working with the team of “30 Minutes”, the CCRTVI (interactive section of Catalonian autonomic broadcast) developed three interactive documentaries that users could watch on three different platforms: web, digital terrestrial television (DTT) and Media Center. The contents of the documentary explore the interactive format and allow the viewer to extend their experience beyond the conventional documentary. The three applications provide information about the history and travel of “Guernica,” an iconographic analysis, composition and conservation of the painting, and biographies of people who have maintained a close relationship with this Picasso masterpiece.
Thus, with this project, Televisió de Catalunya opened in 2007 an innovative experience in television: the interactive documentary. On January 2007 it was launched by the documentary television program “30 Minutes” about the history of painting, and also simultaneously on three digital platforms: DTT, Media Center and a website on the internet. This allowed viewers to access, in an interactive way, a large amount of information: analysis of the picture, documents, interviews, biographies, games and more. The added value based on this initiative combines the long experience of “30 Minutes”, the great referral reports and documentaries program of TV3 news service, with next-generation interactive applications developed by Interactive CCRTV. This is ultimately a new way of watching television and audiovisual production design from the perspective of the multi-format and multi-platform, related to diffusion, and the platform, related to the display.
In relation to the last question of your post, I think that fifteen years of experiments in interactive documentary brought us to a better user interface and user experience (but not to a new language). Some of the experiments (early I-Docs) as French and American cultural offline CD-ROMS produced during the 90’s were already using these same resources and other platforms for display.
Some of these masterpieces are that:
1. Au cirque avec Seurat (1996). Hyptique, Reunion des Musees Nationaux, Gallimard Jeunesse, France Telecom Multimedia. Paris.
2. Dotze sentits (1996). Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Proa, Barcelona Provincial Council. Barcelona: Proa.
3. Joan Miró. El color dels Somnis (1998). Fundació Joan Miró, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Club d’Investissement Media. Barcelona.
4. Le Louvre (1994). Montparnasse Multimedia, Réunion des Musées Nationaux; Index. Paris: BMG Interactive.
5. Le mystère Magritte (1996). Virtuo. Brussels • them.
6. Makers of the 20th Century (1996). News Media, Digital Arts Zappa. Leighton Buzzard (United Bretanya): News Media.
7. Microsoft. Art Gallery (1994). Microsoft, National Gallery; Cognitive Applications Limited. London.
8. Moi, Paul Cézanne (1995). Index; Télérama, Réunion des Musées Nationaux.Paris.
9. Musée d’Orsay. Visit virtuelle (1996). Montparnasse Multimedia, Reunion des Musees Nationaux, Le Lab: BMG Interactive.
10. Opération Teddy Bear (1996). Index, Flammarion, Paris.
Interactive documentary (CCRTVI):
Audiovisual documentary (TV3 – 30 minuts):
Brèves des Trottoirs
Dans un quartier de Paris
The Tribeca Film Institute is launching a New Media Fund aimed at supporting projects that go beyond normal filmmaking and which tackle crucial social issues. For 2011, the fund will award $750,000 in grants, and $1 million a year for five years afterward. The fund is a partnership between TFI and the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms initiative.
Read a CNET article about the whole scheme.
Check the Tribeca website
(and thanks to Hugo Rupert Soskin for passing on the news!!!)
The room was full, people seemed to be very happy to be there (numerous people came to us to say how happy they were that such an event could finally happen), we had both speakers and audience coming from all over the world… and we managed to mix a variety of worlds (academic, producers, broadcaster and artists) around a same topic. Not bad really!
I suspect I could give a summary of the day… but you know what? I was so involved organizing, chairing panels and making sure that things went smoothly that I find it difficult to step in the shoes of the reporter/blogger. If you want to know more about the presentations do check out tweets with the #idocs2011 code – or check the following blog entries:
i-See: five i-Docs to explore by John Wyver at Illuminations
Linear thoughts from i-Docs by Alex Butterworth for Illuminations
idocs2011_3: Stats, damned stats, and interactivity ethics and idocs2011_2: artistry versus UeX? by Ann Danylkiw
What I can tell you are the thoughts that are in my mind now that I am back in London – and the excitement of the day is less in the forefront of my emotions:
1. YES we were right to think with Judith Aston that this is the right momentum to gather together people interested in idocs. The enthusiasm and number of delegates on Friday stands as a proof.
2. YES in the last 2 years there has been an explosion of idocs: it might be the result of the famous convergence (finally happening), of TVs loosing their young audiences, of interactive producers wanting to experience with new genres and of some cultural institutions, like Canadian NFB, pushing the genre with ambitious and fully funded projects… whatever is the reason: idocs are now here to stay and expand.
3. YES idocs do spread in so many directions and territories (art, anthropology, journalism, factual video, participative media, games… you name it…) that it is difficult to define where the borders are between an idocs and an interactive project that has some factual elements. But does is matter? Why should we pin down a fluid expression of reality that is just at its infancy? People like me, Arnau Gifreu, Siobhan o’Flynn and Andre Valentim Almeida (+ so many others that I do not know of yet!) are trying hard to give definitions for the genre, but this is because it is our job – we either teach or are doing our PhDs- or both! So: welcome taxonomies and possible definitions of the field for the observers of the field… but really: what matters is to keep experimenting with new ways of using interactive media while speaking about reality! The discussion should not be “is interactive documentary better of linear doc”, nor ” is this project interactive gaming or interactive documentary”… but rather “how is our vision and understanding of our world changing through the use of new media?”, “how do we shape our reality when we use new media to portray it?”.
4. Once we move away from the need of defining idocs and finding a sub-genres (as I actually do in my PhD!) we can start concentrating on issues that are vital to id0cs producers:
> should we user test idocs and how?
> financial matters: who are the players, where is the money, crowd funding, self-distribution versus broadcaster etc…
> legal matters: copyright in participative docs, creative commons etc…
> ethics: who is responsible in collab docs, logics of moderation etc…
Those could well be nice workshop topics for next year’s i-Docs….
5. The amount of examples of idocs that we have seen at i-Docs is impressive, and to those we have to add all the ones we have not talked about… it is virtually impossible to keep track! What would be nice is to do a Global Portal about idocs, a place where we could collaboratively blog and archive what is going on. This was discussed on Saturday’s morning session and we will probably come back to you all soon with a few propositions. Watch this space…
I think this is it for now… I’ll add more when my ideas are clearer…
I welcome anybody that was at the conference to leave a message… it would be great to hear your voice!]]>
Big names (Nick Cohen from the BBC, Alexandre Brachet from Upian, Matt Adams from Blast Theory and Florian Thalhofer) will show their latest projects and discuss their future plans… but we also have producers, directors and academics from all sort of backgrounds that will present their current work. What is exciting for me is to mix people that see interactive documentaries from a different angle. Even if it is a big generalization, I would tend to say that the producers are more interested in the financial side of things, the academics tend to investigate the consequences of the genre, the artists are excited about the expressive potential of the media… while the directors are more focused on the practicality and feasibility of the projects. Now… those people rarely mix together at conferences. The academic style is often too dry and theoretical to interest those who are hands on, and vice versa. For me though, all points of views have something to add to the discussion. I would say more: cross-fertilisation of ideas is essential to keep an open mind and learn something. I suspect the fact that I come from a television background, and that I am now in academia, puts me in that small niche of people who misses examples at academic conferences and gets irretated by the marketing tone of industry conferences…
I hope that with i-Docs we will manage to create that famous magic blend that is so rare: a space where worlds meet and start dreaming and constructing anew together!
I’ll keep you posted after the event…]]>
So far I am surprisingly calm. There are no real urgencies yet and I have done all I could think of: thought of the intro and closing speech, checked the guests, tried to remember most of the project that are going to be presented… can’t think of anything else to do actually. I think we have over packed the day but… too late to change that so… we will have to deal with it… learn from your own mistakes…
The fact that we are already fully booked is such good news that I cannot believe it! One year ago, when Judith and myself thought about the idea of putting together an event totally dedicated to the interactive documentary we would never have dreamt of such worldwide interest!!! If on one hand a room full of people is a bit intimidating (I am opening the day… huuups) on the other hand it is fantastic news!
All I can do now is cross my fingers and hope that the event goes well. No power cut on the day, no devastating viral bug that eats computers… and no sudden vanishing of our guest speakers! Please, please, please… Also: if it goes well we have very high chances to make it an annual event. YES! Would that not be great? i-Docs could also become the FESTIVAL on interactive documentaries, with time… OK… dream on, dream on…
Back to business: I have to twitt on i-Docs now… ahhhh… all this new media cross referencing!!! Can’t believe how time consuming all this stuff is…]]>
Have a look to this great study done by the Canadian Documentary Network. It is called Documentary and New Digital Platforms: An Ecosystem in Transition and it is a good 56 pages report on what is happening in the idoc world. Worth checking!]]>
Walking the Edit is an innovative system to “walk a movie” : your recorded walk will be translated into a movie through an iPhone app’.
It’s great that videos, pictures and other data can be geolocalized thus creating an ‘augmented space’. But we are left to wonder… how can we turn this abundance of information into a story? Can we build a narrative with all this geolocalized information? How can we make a visit to this augmented space a more coherent and enriching experience?
‘Walking the Edit’ enables you to ‘walk a movie’ based on the shared audiovisual pieces that are virtually existing around us. The concept is simple, you walk through a neighborhood, our iPhone app tracks your progress and translates your itinerary into a story drawing from the multitude of virtual information held in the ‘augmented space’. All this in realtime!
Once your trajectory is translated into a movie you can watch it on the website and see the movies of other people.
Find out more:
read the blog
see some of it: Walking the Edit “Film demo” from DEDALE on Vimeo.]]>
Let’s hope now that such “buzz” fills the atmosphere at i-Docs, and that I manage to stay calm without stressing too much at the event. So far, so good… let’s see in two weeks time!]]>
Last week has been very active for documentary maker Katerina Cisek: Highrise, the project she has been working on at the Canadian NFB for some years now, has just re-launched its website. At the same time they have launched a new experimental web-documentary, to fit under the umbrella of Out My Window: a collaborative photographic essay of views from the towers of the world called Participate.
Now… this is starting to sound quite complex, and indeed it is! Highrise ” explores vertical living in the global suburbs. It’s multi-year, many-media collaborative documentary experiment at the National Film Board of Canada, directed by Katerina Cizek, produced by Gerry Flahive” (see the “about” section of Highrise’s website). Being “multi-year” means that those guys have a good amount of time to explore the topic of suburbia and tower living around the world, and being “many-media” really means that they can explore and being experimental with the use of digital and analogue media. Bottom line: this is a project that emerges from its doing, it evolves like ripples in water… one leading into the other… and that is its beauty. Very frankly: there is no other project at the moment that has such freedom of exploration and uses it as well as Highrise does.
But what is the interest of such vast experiment, and what does it consist on? I suspect its own growing is the very reason for which they just re-launched the website: it was starting to get confusing. Highrise contains several projects: the 1000th tower (a web-doc) and Out My Window (which takes both the forms of a 360 degrees web-doc and of a physical installation). But Out my Windows now has a new “feature” called Participate (that to me looks as an independent participative web photo essay)… if one tries to understand the project as a constructed whole, one misses the point. It is exactly because Highrise has an evolving journey that it can only be described through the timeline that allowed those ideas to emerge. You will be pleased to know that Highrise’s home page now acts as a mini-portal that re-directs you towards the section that might interest you, and that a very handy section called “The story so far” explains you the ramifications of the project to date (the journey is so well explained that I invite you to check it directly on their website, as it feels superfluous for me to cut and paste it).
Now… what do all those sections have in common? Of course they all speak about suburbia and highrise living. The very prologue of the project explains that global urbanization is the defining trend of the 21st century and that, since cities tend to grow faster in their edges, it is suburbia that seems to be at the forefront of the expansions of our cities. This brings us to our understanding of what suburbia is… and here is where we enter the sociological and political aspect of the project: can we re-shape suburbia? Should we? And first of all: do we understand suburbia? What is it like to live in a tower block? Which lives, mysteries, dreams, wishes or projects are inhabiting the thousand windows of a block that from the outside looks pretty much the same?
Highrise is not about suburbia, it is about our preconceptions about suburbia. Its political value is to use documentary as a way to bridge several worlds: the one of people living in tower blocks with the one of people living outside of them. But there is more: there is the relation suburbia-city, but also suburbia-other suburbia, and also the difference of suburbia within one city, and within other cities of the world… So the way I see Highrise is as a relational piece: it puts in relation people, worlds and realities… and this is why it is a damn good documentary (although it can use unconventional forms such as a Flickr photo essay or a physical installation in an art gallery – not to mention the web format).
One more thing: why are so many different projects essential to speak about one same thing? Well… to me this is where it gets really interesting: if one wants to create a relational object one has to create situations where those relations might emerge and create something new. When Katerina Cisek wants to understand what it might be like to live in a tower in Toronto she does not conduct a series of interviews and cut them into a clean edited video that illustrates her point of view; she goes in situ, meets people and asks them to tell their stories through The Thousandth Tower. Although the final result might not appear as a collaborative project, The Tousandth Tower explores a view of collaboration as personal engagement within a mediated piece. Katerina here acts as a facilitator, rather than as a narrator. This journey leads into a natural expansion: understanding tower living in other places in the world. So Katerina goes out again and crafts news bridges into other cultures using a new interface: a playful virtual tower block that can be explored through Out My Window. Here again, technology is not just a gimmick: it is a way to explore new modes of relations. Katerina plays with 360 video technology as an explorer would use light in a cavern: it reveals stuff, it creates tension, it infuses curiosity… Finally this project, that has the merit of being international (the people portayed in the virtual tower block come from all around the world) reaches its own limits: it maybe lacks of spontaneity – as every person featured in it has been carefully selected by an editorial team. So, here again, another bridge starts its linking work: it is now Participate that is being launched. By allowing people around the world to spontaneously send pictures and stories of their life in tower blocks, this project tries to add another dimension to the project: spontaneous collaboration and crowd sourcing. Here collaboration has a different meaning than in the other projects: it is not a personal and long lasting bond that is created, but a spontaneous wish to be part of something.
When I write, and think, about interactive documentaries I often try to see what they are good at: what is it that this interactive media adds to the whole process of documenting reality? For me Highrise encapsulate a lot of the potential of interactive documentary: it shows how an emergent and evolving process can be more effective than a linear one to describe a complex reality such as suburbia. It also shows that stepping out of the narrator’s chairs can be done in a multitude of ways, and that the route is wide open to exploration at the moment. Finally, Highrise shows that collaboration – the hype word of the moment- has multiple meanings, and that participation can be used in different ways to reach different results.
Now you know why I am a big fan of this project: because it shows that interactive media might be a very effective language to learn to relate with the complexity of our world; not through straight lines, but through layers and networked journeys of exploration…]]>
Welcome to Pine Point was meant to be a book… it is now becoming a cross-platform project… and an interactive documentary produced by the NFB of Canada.
This interactive documentary tells the story of a city that has been totally destroyed in the last ten years. Although the documentary is fundamentally linear (you can only press the next/previous tab and click on some photos) the quality of the narrative, and of the combination between graphics and video, is outstanding! A real piece of craft work… and maybe a good example of Lev Manovich’s “deep remixability” applied to the new media documentary world.
Here is how the project is described in its Press Release:
Toronto, January 26, 2011 – Imagine your hometown never changed. That no one ever grew old or moved on. Part book, part film, part family photo album, Welcome to Pine Point unearths a place frozen in time and discovers what happens when an entire community is erased from the map.
Welcome to Pine Point is the first online interactive documentary from internationally renowned Vancouver-based creative team The Goggles (Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons), produced in collaboration with the NFB’s director of digital content and strategy, Rob McLaughlin. Inspired by Simons’ childhood visit to a mining town in the Northwest Territories, Welcome to Pine Point is accessible through NFB Interactive, the NFB’s online portal, which showcases an evolving collection of innovative, interactive stories exploring the world—and our place in it—from uniquely Canadian points of view.
Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons are award-winning authors, artists and creative directors. They have spent most of their professional lives telling stories in compelling new ways, creating unique books, magazines and television spots. They are most known for their award-winning work with Adbusters Magazine.
Find out more:
Watch Pinepoint online
For me Welcome to Pine Point is both a success, and a disappointment. The story is strong, hence one wants to watch it all, the graphics are very beautiful, it is sticky and playful. Basically: it works! This should be enough no?
Well… the only problem with it is that it is fundamentally linear… so… what does it say about interactive documentaries? Does it confirm to us that linear narrative is the best way to communicate stories, or does it just prove that linear is easier to do? I obviously think that interactive narratives are possible… so that is where my disappointment comes from: Pine Point was meant to be a book… and I think you can tell. There are elements of interactivity in it, but that is not its strength. Its strength is a grabbing story, fantastic use of graphics and animation, and a good music track… it sits on the web, but does not use its interactive possibilities at its full.
Still worth watching it though…]]>
CHAPTER 4- The Live documentary
CHAPTER 5- The Hypertext interactive documentary through the lenses of the Live documentary
Chapter 4, the Live Documentary, is my attempt to theorize interactive documentary from a new media prospective – moving away from any film theory and concepts of frame/editing and narrative. I try to see interactive documentary as a form that is defined by its interaction mode, that has levels of autopoietic behaviours, and that can be seen as an assemblage (where the whole is not the result of an author, an audience and a media, but of the infinite relationships formed by its components). I finally call the interactive documentary a “Live documentary” (to know more read page 6 of Ch4).
Chapter 5 is my first case study. I will have 4 case studies in my research, one for each interactive mode (Hypertext, Experiential, Conversational and Collaborative). This first case study is Florian Thalhofer’s [LoveStoryProject] – an example of Hypertext documentary, done with the Korsakow software. I try to look at it through the Live documentary lenses, a methodology that allows me to look for the elements that constitute such assemblage and to question what kind of autopoietic behaviours it might have.
My next case study, Chapter 6, is already written but still needs lots of re-touching so… it will be up soon, but not quite now. I have chosen Rider Spoke, by Blast Theory, as a case study of Experiential documentary.
If by any chance you do check those two new chapters please be so kind to comment on them on my website!!! I occasionally have people sending me e-mails but you all seems too shy to comment publicly… how shy should I be to upload stuff that has not been totally accepted yet? I do it because I believe that discussion and exchange of ideas is more important than anything else… so please do assist me on this! What I write (and what you comment) is meant not to be perfect… but if we share it we all learn and grow through it… if we keep it on a one to one level we cut out everybody else!]]>
This entry to the archive was proposed and written by Yuki Kishino:
‘In Search of Her’ is a documentary project by Yuki Kishino, which was realised in the form of a desktop application using Processing (processing.org).
The application is available for both Mac and Windows. It takes the viewer to a story, written and photographed by the author based on his experience. The user-controlled slideshow is comprised of 52 photographs, each accompanied by text guiding the viewer through the narrative. The application also includes his theory of Human Gravity and additional notes.
View vimeo demo of In search for her
Download and play In search for her
My Comments on it:
In search for her is a desktop application (this is the first odd thing about it) that is photo based, but that tells a story, which itself explains a rather complicated “theory of human gravity”… The photos are as clean as a Japanese Haiku and the theory as incomprehensible as a piece of physics (at least to me!). To those two one has to add a story that is not a story, but that leads to a theory of encounters… As a result the feeling I had while running it on my computer was that there are three levels in this work that are apparently distinct, but that actually mix – or encounter themselves?- in a rather odd way.
I invite you to try this for your selves. In term of interactivity it is pretty basic, but it has an inner balance – and a grace- that are difficult to explain. The theory of human gravity still has some mysteries to me… but maybe one of you could elucidate me?]]>
I have received an entry to the archive, by photographer Yuki Kishino, that is rather intriguing… In search for her is a desktop application (this is the first odd thing about it) that is photo based, but that tells a story, which itself explains a rather complicated “theory of human gravity”… The photos are as clean as a Japanese Haiku and the theory as incomprehensible as a piece of physics (at least to me!). To those two one has to add a story that is not a story, but that leads to a theory of encounters… As a result the feeling I had while running it on my computer was that there are three levels in this work that are apparently distinct, but that actually mix – or encounter themselves?- in a rather odd way.
I invite you to try this for your selves. In term of interactivity it is pretty basic, but it has an inner balance – and a grace- that are difficult to explain. The theory of human gravity still has some mysteries to me… but maybe one of you could elucidate me?]]>
So… what are you waiting for? Book your ticket now! I know I am co-organizing the event, and therefore I could be somehow biased, but for anybody interested in interactive video and new media documentary this is honestly an event not to be missed!]]>
I found an article by Nicoletta Iacobacci (Head of Interactive TV/Eurovision at the European Broadcasting Union) that is actually quite clear on the topic. Here is a selection of her article:
In a crossmedia environment, content is repurposed, diversified and spread across multiple devices to enhance, engage and reach as many users/viewers as possible. It is common to call crossmedia “content 360″. It is generally the same program re-edited for different screens, fragmented content disseminated on different platforms, possibly incorporating extra content and channels to extend the viewers’ experience. Brand here plays a key role and needs to be always identifiable. A typical form of crossmedia is when the plot of the story ends with a call-to-action, and drives the audience across different media. A good example is the BBC’s Spooks, where, at the end of the TV episode, a cheerful announcement gives directions to a website.
In transmedia storytelling, content becomes invasive and permeates fully the audience’s lifestyle. Stephen Erin Dinehart, who coined the term transmedia and created the VUP (viewer/user/player) relates this model to Richard Wagner and his concept of “total artwork” (“Gesamtkunstwerk“) where the spectator becomes actor/player. A transmedia project develops storytelling across multiple forms of media in order to have different “entry points” in the story; entry-points with a unique and independent lifespan but with a definite role in the big narrative scheme.
Check the article itself for more elucidations…]]>
I personally think that this project is done with style and attention to the detail. The characters are interesting and emotionally grabbing (a 26 years old girl that invents the job of “explorer of flavours” , a homeless speculator, a papy dancer, a transvestite hairdresser…). The visual style is sleek (the use of photos to bridge between a video and another as a way to “stop time” is particularly effective). The graphic style is elaborate (an interface of Parisian street walls and posters allows the user to navigate within the project)… and the whole thing really works! (Yes, i did watch at least four stories and kept browsing for a good 30 minutes!)
And yet… is it really interactive? As authors Lambert and Salva said themselves in an interview for Nieman Storyboard “Brèves de Trottoirs is linear. You can’t create your own storytelling. That’s what we like to do. For that reason, our storytelling is not different from a traditional documentary”.
Although I like this project, because it really works, I am wondering what is new about it. In 1996 (15 years ago!) Janet H.Murray had already realised a very similar project at MIT: Dans un Quartier de Paris. Murray’s project was done with a linguistic aim, but the idea was very similar: use digital technology (CD-ROM!) to simulate a walk in the street of Paris and discover its diversity through the glances of its inhabitants. Brèves de Trottoirs is obviously a thousand times more immersive and sleek than Dans un quartier de Paris: finally video can be full screen and good quality, and we can see that in 15 years graphic design has made miracles in inventing its own language – made of consistency and fluidity. So… has the evolution of interactive media language made all the difference between those two projects? And is the so called multi-platform aspect of Brèves de Trottoirs adding anything to it?
Basically, what I am asking is: have fifteen years of experiments in interactive documentary brought us to a new language, or just to a better user interface and user experience?
Here is how the project is described in its website:
Toronto, January 26, 2011 – Imagine your hometown never changed. That no one ever grew old or moved on. Part book, part film, part family photo album, Welcome to Pine Point unearths a place frozen in time and discovers what happens when an entire community is erased from the map.
Welcome to Pine Point is the first online interactive documentary from internationally renowned Vancouver-based creative team The Goggles (Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons), produced in collaboration with the NFB’s director of digital content and strategy, Rob McLaughlin. Inspired by Simons’ childhood visit to a mining town in the Northwest Territories, Welcome to Pine Point is accessible through NFB Interactive, the NFB’s online portal, which showcases an evolving collection of innovative, interactive stories exploring the world—and our place in it—from uniquely Canadian points of view.
Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons are award-winning authors, artists and creative directors. They have spent most of their professional lives telling stories in compelling new ways, creating unique books, magazines and television spots. They are most known for their award-winning work with Adbusters Magazine.]]>
The Waiting Room is a unique blend of locative media, social media and traditional documentary film that reveals a community disconnected from technology, the conversation about health care reform and equal access to care. It allows people passing through the waiting rooms of California’s public hospitals to express, connect and share their experience at a moment when seismic shifts are altering the landscape of health care in America. It is based on the premise that the expression and sharing of story by the under-served is vital to our nation’s understanding of the impact of public policy that is influenced by lobbyists and special interest groups. The project is also driven by the powerfully therapeutic benefits of providing a platform for people stuck in hospital waiting rooms to share their thoughts and feelings about their health and their lives; their hopes and their fears.
The Waiting Room does so through a unique blend of locative media, the web and traditional documentary film that reveals a community disconnected from technology, the conversation about health care reform and equal access to care. The pilot project follows patients and staff at the Alameda County Medical Center, a public hospital that serves the uninsured in the Oakland, CA area. If the pilot proves successful the plan is to expand the project to other waiting rooms in selected clinics and hospitals in California.
The Waiting Room is comprised of four main components:
A feature-length cinema verité documentary film that uses unprecedented access to go behind the doors of an American safety-net hospital fighting for survival while weathering the storm of a persistent economic downturn. Following both patients and caregivers, the film tells the story of a diverse patient population coping with a remarkable array of health problems, while caregivers struggle to treat problems that extend well beyond their patients’ health.
The Waiting Room video blog, a politically independent, hyper-local platform that serves as a dynamic theme and issue-based story archive and launch point for dialogue on the problems facing the uninsured.
A self-sustaining interactive story booth placed in the waiting room at Highland Hospital (and eventually in other waiting rooms around the country) that will capture unedited, first-person stories recorded by the patients and hospital staff themselves. The booth project will also serve to encourage the use of technology by a community that is most disenfranchised by this nation’s digital divide. The hospital, which is now renovating their waiting room, has allowed us to include the booth as a permanent installation as they complete renovations of in coming months.
Short webisodes produced by video journalists and filmmakers that will follow patients and staff over time as they navigate the public health care system.
In keeping with the hyper-local nature of the project, our initial core audience will be those that pass through the waiting room itself: patients, caregivers and hospital administrators at Highland Hospital. The secondary audience – local community non-profits, and journalists – will be reached through strategic partnerships with organizations that are already working on behalf of patients and medical institutions that care for the under-served in the Bay Area. The core framework of the project (anchored by the interactive story booth) is replicable and relies on volunteers, citizen engagement and strategic partnerships for its sustainability. But first and foremost The Waiting Room gives the under-served a voice not just at a critical moment in their lives, but also at a moment of critical importance in the evolution of our nation’s health care system.
More about it:
See the Waiting Room
This entry has been written and suggested by Hugo Soskin, but he has not expressed his comments on the project.
Personally I have seen the interactive version of the Waiting Room at the Sheffield DocFest 2010 and it seemed a very interesting project – although it was a collection of videoblogs without a lot of linking between them. The existence of a full length documentary should fill the holes… Basically this is a project to follow, as it will expand and change in the years to come!]]>
When Canadian National Film Board publicised its interactive project Highrise , in 2009, it called it “a multi-year, multi-media, collaborative documentary project about the human experience in global vertical suburbs. We will use the acclaimed interventionist and participatory approaches of the award-winning National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmaker-in-Residence (FIR) project. Our scale will be global, but rooted firmly in the FIR philosophy — putting people, process, creativity, collaboration, and innovation first.” It sounded grand…
A year down the line its director Katerina Cizek has clearly cooked an intriguing collaborative project. Highrise is an umbrella project, that has hosts several sub-projects within it. As NFB’s website says: “Under the direction of documentary-maker Katerina Cizek, the HIGHRISE team will be making lots of things. Web-documentaries, live presentations, installations, mobile projects and yes, documentary films. We will use the acclaimed interventionist and participatory approaches of the award-winning National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmaker-in-Residence (FIR) project. Our scale will be global, but rooted firmly in the FIR philosophy — putting people, process, creativity, collaboration, and innovation first.”
Well… they have delivered! for now the four main parts of the projects are: the Highrise website, the director’s blog, the Out My Window interactive documentary and an installation in a gallery for the IDFA DocLab in Amsterdam.
Each project has its own specificities and it would be too long to cover each of them here. I propose that you follow the links below and that you explore them yourself, but Out My Window is certainly the most talked about interactive spatial documentary of 2010. It is one of the world’s first interactive 360º documentaries and it has just won the first DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. Delivered entirely on the Web, it’s a journey around the world through the most commonly built architectural form of the last century: the concrete-slab residential tower. Meet remarkable high-rise residents in 13 cities and visit their intimate space, while listening to their stories. A virtual tower block is composed of existing flats that you can visit using your cursor. Hot spots and sound effects will tell you where to click to see more. Some times 360 degrees videos allow you to view a scene and move within it in motion…
This is a beautifully crafted piece of design and technology serving a community participative ideology.
Find out more:
To enter Highrise click here
Read Kat Cisek’s director’s blog
Out My Window: storyspace installation
Explore Out My Window
It is nearly impossible to resist Highrise: its sleek design and cleverly crafted text manage to engage us even if facing a difficult topic – highly dense populated areas, poor suburbia, places that we often disregard as “not interesting” can actually be fascinating… not only, but behind those seemingly all equal windows of anonymous tower blocks live people with a past, with dreams and with sometimes fascinating life stories.
So Highrise is not for me about architecture, it is not about suburbia and it is not about social background… it is about being human and inherently “life-rich”. This I believe is the strength, and the glue, of Highrise. It is about looking outside of the window to see inside ourselves.
Highrise and Out My Window obviously have a political agenda. Population growth, social politics, popular architecture and immigration are all part of the equation… but my feeling is that instead of giving us “one” answer, or delivering a clear political message, Highrise shows us diversity. Population growth is all around us, inequality too, but we can deal with it in different ways. Meeting the people that live in tower blocks is about giving them a face. It is about not having a them/us attitude. It is also about giving them a voice that can resonate within us. It is about dialogue more than denunciation.
I personally think that this project is incredibly powerful and well realised. Style, content, curiosity and generosity all mix together to give us a window from which life should look richer, if not better.]]>
Bizarrely when one hits nausea sometimes thing happen… a discussion with a friend, an indepth chat with a philosophy specialist can became illuminant… like a new horizon in a dark sea… I am now back into writing, and this time full of enthousisam and exchitement! May this mood last for a while, as I have not finished my chapter… May the sea drift me towards new directions, and the flow fill me with novelty, may justice thank the people that with a little push propulse us far beyond what we can see.]]>
Interestingly enough, like me, they just seem to realise that archiving all i-docs is mission impossible!!!! Not only there is too much happening, but it takes too much time for any person to follow it all… So they have introduced a “do it youself option” – a bit like me who offer a “contribute to the archive” option, inviting people to archive their own projects by themselves. If you go to the option “referencer son webdocumentaire” you can input your documentary. I am not sure about the language… does it need to be in French only?
I am coming to the conclusion that we should all join forces in a way or another to create a centralised online archive/forum/resource/network about interactive documentaries. It does not make sense to have Webdocu.fr in one language, me & other blogs covering other things… we should unite efforts! Whenever I will have more time (will this ever happen?) it will be my next project. Any person intersted in such project, just get in touch with me…]]>
Stay tuned – in about a week a draft programme should be online at http://i-docs.org/
We need to wait for confirmation of the speakers before publishing the final programme but… it looks like a very exciting day so… even if you do not want to present, buy a ticket online and join the discussion on the day!]]>
I feel bad for not having added anything to the archive for ages!!! All I have been able to do is to add a couple of Haikus (because I have fun with those) and some blogs in the main home screen… I suppose it is better than nothing… but I still feel a bit guilty of not managing to do more…]]>
While last month Power to the Pixel was all about transmedia and documentaries (with big star Tommy Pallotta presenting Collapsus) Doc Fest kept the transmedia card quite low key. Somehow people seem to get used to the idea that a documentary now needs to have some sort of digital offspring… but their interest now is shifting towards financial concerns: how do you get financed and distributed in this brave new digital world?
In a land of “do it yourself and screw the regular TV channels” several options seem to emerge, from crowd-funding extravaganza to new web distributing channels. If last year the fashion was in following The Age of Stupid’s incredible self-funding route, this year more official channels were put on the foreground.
Babelgum has created an online platform to distribute film and documentary content. They sometimes help in the production process and look after the online rights of their clients. SnagFilms is another platform dedicated to documentaries that allow costumers to customize their viewing. With the advent of the new generation of set up boxes (such as 3view) that will allow streaming YouTube and iPlayer content straight into our televisions a new problem is hitting the industry: if TV scheduling is going to loose all its strength, to leave the place to a true video on demand logic on our television sets, who will promote and put our documentaries into the front line? Content aggregators such as Babelgum and SnagFilms are trying to position themselves as the option of the future: a trusted web channel for good content.
It seems to me that when most discussion turn to financial topics it means that people are less thinking about “shall we go interactive” but more about “how shall we do it”. As a result I did notice that there were fewer presentations of interactive documentaries than last year… most panels this year seemed to turn around practical matters.
I did assist though to an interesting presentation of “Seven Days”, Channel 4 latest reality TV series. Seven Days is the little brother of Big Brother. We do not follow people in a house anymore, but in a borough, Notting Hill – London. A selection of real life characters are allowing to be followed 24/7 and every week a new episode is being broadcasted. The novelty is that it is shot and edited in one week, but also that the audience can intervene and chat with the characters themselves via the web (the dedicated channel is called ChatNav). Now… this two way communication means that audience comments are now influencing real life people in their daily acts! This is obviously the exciting and juicy bit for Channel 4, but I have to admit that it makes me raises some concerns about the ethic side of things: should we all be allowed to influence complete strangers of which we know very little – a part a one hour simplification of their life on television?
Finally Doc Fest does not have a digital award, but I had a few interactive documentaries running in the “cross-platform docs”. Those were:
I found this selection quite confusing as during the conference what clearly came out was that the interactive productions of the year were:
1. Out my window (NFB)
2. Prison Valley (Arte)
3. Collapsus (Submarine/VPRO)
4. Galata Bridge (Florian Thalhofer)
5. The waiting room (BAVC)
So… if those were the interesting interactive projects of the year… why were they not discussed and presented all together in a specific session? I must have missed something…
I leave it to you to go and browse those projects…
But a session was dedicated to docu-games and, surprise surprise, it was over-crowded. Are producers thinking that the easiest way to get some interactive stuff produced is to go towards the game logic? Or maybe it is the flip side of all this cross-media fashion which make documentary producers think that if they can sell the film to the television and the game to its website then they get their programme commissioned… All I know is that there were some very interesting projects.
SuperMe on Channel 4 caught my attention. In an article the Guardian explains “SuperMe was produced by Somethin’ Else for Channel 4 in partnership with the creative studio Preloaded, and is based on principles of positive psychology. As well as videos, there are facts, quotes and probing questions to help players build life skills and deal more positively with bad experiences. Players earn points for connection, influence, wisdom and ability through a number of different games including Proximity, where players have to use teamwork to fly through a series of gates, and the navigation game Swerveball, which challenges the user to accurately recall how well they performed”. The great idea behind SuperMe is to use a mixture of videos to deliver information to teenagers and of games to keep them into the website – and learn through playing. For such a difficult subject as “happiness and teenagers” I think this is a very clever approach.
Nick Cohen from the BBC presented Wallage and Gromit’s World of Invention, a game website aimed at interesting a young audience to science and engineering. By building, doing, experimenting online kids can develop the skills, and the passion, that they will need later in their studies. Sounds like a fun project… not really a documentary… but still fun for kids.
Last was another Channel 4 production: Trafalgar Origins, an online battle game rigorously designed respecting historical evidence of the battle itself. Here it was the historical accuracy that was interesting – also because the kids that play will probably never know that they are being historically correct!
I like what Margaret Robertson, from Hide and Seek, said during the session “Games give a dynamic system to relate to reality, and they are good at making us change behaviour”… this sentence summarizes for me the potential for edu-games when mixed with documentary logic: they can inform, entertain, build skills, but also make us relate differently to reality…
Over all Doc Fest was very enjoyable, as always, but from my niche point of view it did not have enough to offer for people that look at the interactive and cross media development of documentaries.
I am now really hoping that i-Docs, which I will co-host with John Dovey and Judith Aston in Bristol on the 25th of March ,will be the right platform to discuss in depth what is happening in the interactive documentary world!!!]]>
So… feel free to play with it. The 360 degrees videos are an interesting technology…although I am not too sure what they add to the whole story… I have mixed feelings about this project: it is old and new at the same time. I like the idea of a virtual building, but I am not sure that the individual stories are strong enough… I probably need to play with it more… let me know what you think of it!
Here is an example of the 360 videos:
In an era of pervasive computing, social media and a networked ‘information society’, digital documentary is embracing new forms. Web-docs, docu-games, photo-reportages, trans-media projects and locative narratives are developing new languages of factual communication that challenge the established linear narrative of documentary.
i-Docs is the first lab/symposium to be dedicated to the rapidly evolving field of interactive documentary. The symposium will be a day-long event to showcase new projects and to discuss the artistic, economic and political implications of new forms of factual representation.
i-Docs is convened by Sandra Gaudenzi, Judith Aston, and Jonathan Dovey on behalf of the Digital Cultures Research Centre, University of the West of England, Bristol. The event will be held at the Watershed Media Centre in central Bristol on Friday, 25th of March 2011.
Participants are invited to present their current projects and research. There will also be panel discussion, with a view to promoting debate between media practitioners, commissioning editors, artists and academics.
Proposals for both paper and project presentations should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, 15th of November 2010. The proposal should clearly outline your intentions in no more than 300 words. Links to further visual materials may be provided, where appropriate.
Confirmed keynote presentations from: Upian (Prison Valley, Gaza/Sderot, Havana/Miami), Blast Theory (Rider Spoke, Desert Rain, A Machine To See With), Nick Cohen, BBC Multiplatform Commissioning Editor.
Suggested topics / themes:
– what is an interactive documentary?: possible classification methodologies for a field in constant development
– collaborative media and documentary making: objectivity, activism and shared authorship through the screens of – – mobile phones and web2.0
– user-generated content in documentary practice: the new role of the producer and possible models of collaboration
– crowd sourcing when documenting reality: possible ethical and political consequences
– docu-games and mixed-reality games: can games document the real?
– database documentaries: navigational strategies and new possibilities for representing multiple points of view
– the fine line between new media factual art, collaborative journalism and interactive documentary
– what does the user think?: how do we user test, or evaluate user experience, of an i-doc?
– possible financial models for i-docs: who are the financial players and what do they want?
– case study presentation and/or analysis of specific i-doc projects
Selected papers will be published in the Journal of Media Practice. Several other publication possibilities are being considered.
The cost of attending this exciting event – including lunch – is £50. Some reductions are available for postgraduate researchers on a limited basis.
Doc on Web
Uploaded by La_Scam. – Watch original web videos.
‘A Machine To See With’ is being launched this week in San Jose. There is no YouTube video about it yet… so I cannot really comment on it. But for those of you who are in that side of the world, or that just want to follow this project, here is the blurb that I received by e-mail by Blast Theory:
‘A Machine To See With’ is Blast Theory’s new work, produced through the inaugural Locative Cinema Commission by partners ZER01: The Art & Technology Network, Sundance Film Festival‘s New Frontiers Initiative and Banff New Media Institute at The Banff Centre. Developed through a residency at the Banff New Media Institute and premiering this week at the 2010 01SJ Biennial, ‘A Machine To See With’ is a work for pedestrians and their mobile phones and puts participants inside a movie as they walk through the city. Following the premiere in San Jose, the work will be presented at Sundance Film Festival in January 2011 and Banff Summer Festival in July 2011. ‘A Machine To See With’ mixes documentary material, stolen thriller cliches, and the films of Jean-Luc Godard and invites you to become someone else. Step inside a film as you walk through the city, receiving phone calls. Are you the protagonist or a bit part player? Start making decisions and you will find out. Blast Theory is supported by Arts Council”
Sounds super exciting….
Have a look to Arte’s website if you are fluent in German… the smooth panoramic interface effect looks great!
Ah… and the linear documentary version goes on air on Arte TV this September 27th at 23.30… tune in!]]>
A year down the line its director Katerina Cizek is clearly cooking an intriguing collaborative project using 360 degrees images. Her team first announced that they were prototyping an art installation in physical space (to re-translate digital space into physical one) and now they are asking for collaboration from all of us who live in a tower block (sending our highrise views to a Flickr account). How are they going to assemble them is a mystery… but from what I understand both a website and an exhibition should come out of it soon…
Although 360 technology is sexy, the point here is to know how it will be used. In her last project for NFB, Filmmaker-in-Residence, Katerina Cizek took very seriously the meaning of “collaborative” media. During 5 years she worked with the medical staff, and with the patients, of an inner-city hospital… and it is only through deep rooting into their universe that she emerged with the version of the interactive documentary that is available online – and on DVDs. I am really curious to know what type of collaboration she is experimenting with in her new project, Highrise. After having directly engaged with a selected group of tower residents in Toronto (see their descriptions of their space and the presentation that has been organized with Toronto’s major here), they are now asking everybody to send photos to Flickr… is this a contradiction or a cleverly balanced dose of crowd sourcing and intimate collaboration?
And also… is 360 degrees technology an aesthetic landscaped choice or does it experiment with new type of digital interaction?
I am afraid that for now they are the only one to have the answers… maybe they want to share some information with us?]]>
I suggest that you have a look to it as the online project makes use of Google Maps and Google Street View to incorporate images of the viewer’s home town into the video. It also opens different windows at specific times and allows you to draw a postcard and send it back into the video itself. The use of google maps to personalize (customize?) a video is new to my knowledge… and it really works!! While you are looking at the video you cannot unglue your eyes from a setting that you really know well (since you lived there!).
This type of personalization could also be used in interactive documentaries…. imagine a topic like bulling, or education, where you are fed images of your own school as opposed to the institutionalised image of “a school” (in the UK Victorian schools seem to be the chosen as representational image).
Also, the use of windows – as opposed to picture into picture editing- is really working well. Image juxtapose themselves adding meaning to the other one – as opposed of composing a new “unique” image.
Even just for the inspiration and breath of fresh air… have a look to http://www.thewildernessdowntown.com]]>
I read a mixture of books on complexity, interactivity, consciousness and Spinoza… strangely enough they were all related in one way or another… and it all seemed very clear to me when I was in the Italian Alps looking at the complexity of a cloudy sky and at the reflexive calmness of a glacier’s lake… Could it be that simple?
The good news is that now that I am back to London it is all muddy again in my mind… is this symptomatic about the fact that here I have too many jobs to fulfil or is simplicity just ephemeral by nature?]]>
I need to do some extra research before entering it into the archive. If you have any comments or extra information please shout now!]]>
Obviously non of this is new to critical analysis. But what is new for me is that I am now strongly aware of it. Although interviewing people made me feel secure, I was also aware of the role I was performing, of the production rules that I was embodying and re-proposing.
I hope that the interactive documentary that we want to make with this content will allow me to break out of the conventions that both tranquillize and irritate me… This is ultimately the aim of a PhD: to bring out new directions of enquiry and to push oneselves outside of the confort zone…]]>
Have a look to http://linterview.fr/new-reporter/le-moteur-de-recherche-du-web-documentaire/ and type any topic or location… and a list of web project will come up (photo-journalism, interactive news, web-docs etc…). It does work for English projects too but it is less effective (if you search for a topic you need to do it in French!).
LINTERVIEW web site is really worth checking. They do interviews, they follow what is happening as we speak. I am not too sure who is behind it (I shall enquire) but it is a useful resource…
If you subscribe to their newsletter they also inform you about interesting stuff. Today I received a link to a 40 minute piece on the web documentary format (http://linterview.fr/new-reporter/les-webdocumentaires-revolution-ou-effet-de-mode/) and to an interview to David Dufresne about Prison Valley : http://linterview.fr/new-reporter/les-coulisses-de-prison-valley-par-david-dufresne/.
Have a look… !]]>
check it out at http://globallives.org/
read about it at http://globallives.org/ybca/media_information_sheet_GLP.pdf]]>