Multimedia Storytelling

My last blog challenge: critique a multimedia video

So, I started searching for a multimedia video to critique. When I typed “multimedia videos” into Google, I expected the results to include websites such as mediastorm.com and californiaisaplace.com.  Instead, I ended up with “free online multimedia training videos” and videos about NASA and The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy… not exactly what I was looking for.  After searching “multimedia videos mediastorm californiaisaplace” (sometimes it helps to include websites or tags similar to what you’re searching for), I discovered the website storyminemedia.com.  The story that caught my eye was called “The Council”.

The first thing I liked about this video was that it gave you the choice of watching the video in one chunk or in three short webisodes. This is one of the key elements to new journalism: allowing your audience to decide how they want to view the story.

wait, What is a webisode? According to WikiPedia, A webisode is simply a web episode – collectively it is part of a web series, a form of new medium called web television that characteristically features a dramatic, serial storyline, where the primary method of viewership is streaming online over the Internet. While there is no set standard for length, most webisodes are relatively short, ranging from 3–15 minutes in length.

Webisodes are on the cutting edge of this new wave of journalism that our generation is experiencing. I’m finally starting to realize how exciting it is to be a journalism student at the University of Missouri in the year 2012. The traditional style of journalism is dying, so the the essence of journalism is in a vulnerable state. This is exciting, though! We now have the opportunity to recreate journalism, take it in a different direction, get creative and discover new ways to tell the world’s stories.  Or, as the creators of storyminemedia, Catherina & Elena, put it:

On the other side, the Chad Stevens, Bob Sachas, Brian Storms, and Richard Koci Hernandezes of the world were imploring us not to give up. This is an exciting time to be a storyteller. The industry is being given a chance to create sustainable models for the new media landscape and help pave the way for the next generation

back to the critique:

While I liked the personal option of watching the video as a whole or in parts, I think the creators stopped short of their potential.  There are ways they could have made this story even more versatile.  In this age of multimedia, you really need to focus in on the multi aspect of storytelling to be successful. So, tell the story in multipule ways! I would have liked to see a text story accompany the video for people who want to read on.  Perhaps they could include more in-depth bios about the profiled candidates or explain why they chose to tell this story in the first place. Videos are fun and catchy, but a text story allows the viewer to go back and reference information. I forgot where the school was located, but would need to re-watch the video to refresh myself.

In addition to a text story, a photo gallery could mostly definitely be included. As I’m sure the video’s photographers would agree, still photos tell a story in a very different way than video as they allow the viewer to reflect on the image for a few extra moments and really analyze and appreciate what they see. Photo captions would also add context to this story.

Aside from these suggestions, though, I actually believe it was the simplicity of the layout that drew me in. With the constant overflow of information and images we get from the internet, I appreciate websites that are simple. StoryMineMedia has a clean look to their site which is very appealing. It’s easy to navigate, and not feeling overwhelmed by so many options is quite refreshing. There are definitely ways; however, to include more information to a webpage without complicating the layout so that if you’re looking for more, you can find it.

This theme of simplicity carries throughout the photography and video editing of the webisode, making it enjoyable to watch.  The constant shallow depth of field and soft focus lead your eyes to the main subject of the shot, as the rest of the details blur into the background or foreground. Honestly, though, this excessive use of shallow DOF is becoming a major cliche in short films.  It’s a little too romantic, if you know what I mean.  Don’t get me wrong, I, too, love how it looks. Still, I can see how this style of photography could get old if it continues to be overused. It shouldn’t be used all the time, but sparingly and in the appropriate situations — yes!

What really makes this video great, I think, is the attention to detail. It’s colorful and really paints a picture of the middle school environment. The clips are short and the variety is wide. It kept my interest the entire time. The video follows through from the beginning of elections to the end, creating a complete story that leaves you with a good feeling. It’s fresh and enjoyable.

I think one of the other strengths of this website is its connection with social media. Catherina and Elena ask their audience and professional colleges for feedback in order to “made informed decisions throughout [the] creative process.” On the sidebar of their website are their most recent tweets.

Searching for more inspiration

I will continue to be on the lookout for websites that emphasize multimedia reporting and storytelling for my own inspiration.  In the meantime, if anyone has suggestions or wants to promote their own work — please comment below!

PS: I had some more luck when I searched “multimedia storytelling” in Google

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