AV Related Digital storytelling Interactive Media

ACMI First Person Conference / Digital Storytelling (part one)

ACMI’s Digital Storytelling conference was a bit hit and miss. Pete will need to give you the run down on day two but here’s some thoughts on day one.

The opening plenary from civil rights activist John O’Neal was no doubt honourable but seemed quite tangential to a conference on ‘digital storytelling’ – especially when John told us, 10 minutes from the end, that he’d only recently made ONE digital story himself, and that was as a participant. There was also an audience singalong that was so 60s and repulsive. It reminded me why I liked punk (although strangely now I listen to will happily listen to free folk – a good selection of Finnish free folk was obtained on the journey from my favourite Australian record store Synaesthesia). If it wasn’t the 60s I was reminded of, it was Hillsong. I had really been hoping that O’Neal, having worked a lot in New Orleans might have actually had something to say about the Smithsonian’s Katrina Maps project . . . but alas.

Ok maybe that’s a bit harsh, but digital storytelling HAS to be something more than 70s style community cultural development (CCD) + video + ‘the internet’.

Fortunately things improved – the next session was fantastic. Opening with an excellent run down of old and new models for TV, the speakers engaged with theory, and demonstrated some amazing projects with more than just CCD outcomes.

Daniel Meadows from the BBC’s Capture Wales project introduced the best session of the conference on ‘broadcast convergence – new forms of storytelling’.

John Hartley from QUT offered an insightful look back at the last 50 years of TV and then projected 50 years forwards, exploring the issues and opportunities created by new media, interactivity, and pro-sumer audiences.

Ana Serrano from Canada’s fantastic Habitat labs took us through some amazing interactive media work produced by her Habitat teams.

Some of those she talked about were –

  • Mumur – a locative media project with community audio stories on demand
  • Zed TV – audience driven content and programming for TV
  • Pax Warrior – an amazing interactive documentary project for teens where the players research choices within a game engine set in Rwanda working for the UN brokering peace between the Hutus and Tutsis.
  • Things Left Unsaid – a interactive project as yet unreleased where players particapte in a mobile phone video confessional interactive story
  • Ride on animals with heads-up display video for young children networked together
  • Seedcollective – a group who plant digital forests in public spaces with players interacting with mobiles
  • Paul Vincent from SBS TV was up next talking about the online projects related to their broadcast output. These included –

  • Swapping Lives – a 50 minute documentary about an Indonesion and Australian teenager who swapped lives for a month armed with a video camera. The online site which has 17 hours of footage available.
  • Strait Up – supplemenatry site for the Remote Area Nurse series featuring community stories from the Torres Strait.
  • Sum Of Our Parts – 3 part family stories created by family members then screened to each other. Filmed in a studio setting.
  • Freeload – coming very soon and promises to be the SBS equivalent of Zed TV
  • SBS revealed their site gets 500,000 unique visits per month although it was hard to work out whether this was overall or for specific projects. Either way it seems either very low or high . . . . anyone? Also, they are bedding down Flash Video as a standard for video delivery.

    In the next session was spoilt by the very annoying Chris Crawford (who admits to not playing computer games in the last 15 years – you would think this would disqualify him from answering questions about MMORPGs and The Sims . . but no!).

    But in amongst the guff there was a fantasic presentation by David Vadvideloo who developed the UsMob project with the ABC. UsMob is an amazing interactive storytelling project a little bit like a Choose Your Own Adventure. Developed specificially with indigenous communities in Central Australia and in response to the communities’ own requests for culturally relevant online content for indigenous children and community problems around substance abuse and the long term impact of particular ‘choices’.

    UsMob is a great example of a meaningful storytelling project that is similar in some way to the work of Enda Murray and others in Redfern in terms of collaborative story telling and film creation, but then extended to another level by involving the audience in the project as well through the online elements.

    Pete has some sessions recorded and we will link them through . . . .

    One reply on “ACMI First Person Conference / Digital Storytelling (part one)”

    Day Two highlights included the comprehensive presentation by the capture wales crew in the first session and the truly wonderful local work being carried out in regional australia by Malcolm McKinnon.

    Capture Wales
    The BBC supported capture wales project is now quite mature, having recently passed the milestone point at which more content comes in unsolicited than is produced through the project workshops. This represents a significant statement in terms of demand and sustainability. I believe it would be difficult to reproduce this success without the weight and resources of BBC Wales delivering expertise, production and distribution power, however, it remains at its core, a community centred practise. It’s clearly stated purpose is encouraging and acknowledging diverse voices. It provides a fascinating model aiming to change the balance of power between ther broadcaster and the broadcasted.
    The capture walse crew have developed their own approaches based on the Berkeley model which is made quite explicit at

    Malcolm is really a community artist who spends significant time in rural and regional communities esp Vic and Sth Aus and has also worked with numerous cultural institutions including many museums. He also works with communities including indigenous to produce beautiful films – again, first person narratives.
    Malcolm’s presentation explored notions of places that talk, charting unsignposted local knowledge, artefacts as powerful triggers for untapping residues of memory, and opening up the many narratives which define the history of any place. Through his community filmmaking he seeks to bring forward ‘authentic, idiosyncratic stories’, to acknowledge and celebrate the past in a truthful and useful way. Very excellent.

    Check out the MP3 audio files. The best bits (IMHO) of the conference only made available in this place.

    Comments are closed.