SXSW Content: Exploring Place with Cross-Platform Storytelling – Case Studies

SXSWiLogo4Next up at SXSW was “Exploring Place with Cross-Platform Storytelling“: examples of how new technologies like geo-tagging, location-aware devices, interactive video and augmented reality are being combined with traditional storytelling methods to explore the world in richer, more in-depth ways than ever before…

The panel was made up of: Mike Knowlton, CTO of Storycode; Danny Harris, Creative Director at StorySocial; documentary filmmaker and cross-platform producer, Liz Nord; and Executive Director of ARTE France Cinema, Michel Reilhac. Knowlton began by talking about “story as software”, suggesting that cross-platform storytelling and new technologies allow creators to make more immersive, more iterative content. As scene-setting, he introduced some case studies: “The Silent History“, serialised iPad/iPod novel; “Rough Ride – The Oil Patch Tour”, interactive documentary; “NY Hearts” interactive neighbourhoods project; and “Welcome to Pine Point” created by NFB.

Liz Nord introduced her project “Jerusalem Unfiltered” which offers an immersive insider’s perspective on the city. Interestingly, Nord has launched the content-rich site more than a year before the film is due to complete in late-2014.


Danny Harris reflected on his StorySocial project, People’s District, which became “Washington D.C.’s largest and most ambitious non institutional-based oral history project”. Over three years, Harris traveled across all 120+ city neighbourhoods to piece together a “people’s history” of the District told through some 2,000 diverse interviews. Explore more StorySocial projects here.

Cinemacity-Galley-1-960x400Michel Reilhac showcased one of the most unique immersive projects, ARTE’s CinemaCity: a geolocalized augmented reality project which allows users to overlay the physical experience of walking through Paris with excerpts of films shot on that location. Costing $417k, the project will launch in June 2013, when Paris city authorities will open up the wifi network so free connectivity will drive update. Reilhac reported that the ambition is to roll-out the project to the world’s other “film cities”.

The panel commented that integrating physical space into storytelling “allows the audience to consume the narrative in a far more intimate way”. Knowlton summarised that place can be integrated via technology to make the storytelling experience deeper, but also to encourage audiences to physically explore place to unlock narrative content. As creators, Nord suggested producers need to fully interrogate the impact of immersive place on the narrative approach, from the degree of user autonomy to platforms and devices.

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