Interested in how storytelling will continue to take shape online? An upcoming event in New York City called The Future of Storytelling (FoST) Summit is inviting media and technology professionals to gather and learn about innovative ways that stories are being told.
The series of workshops and master classes is geared toward filmmakers, communications officers and media members, though I can see how learning about what’s on the cutting edge of “storytelling” — in terms of methods, current trends, and future outlooks — could be extremely useful for product developers, digital editors, and analytics folks at news organizations. With consumption on mobile devices rising exponentially, presenting information and stories in a functional yet efficient way is any media person’s challenge. Apps, data visualizations, video, longform text, infographics, aggregated content — what’s the right way to go?
The FoST event may just have a few answers. FoST is invite-only, but you can follow the discussion on Twitter during the Oct. 1-2 conference here, using the hashtag #FoST.
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My favorite part of the comment section of YouTube is the ability to link a timestamp (say “0:31″) to a particular point in a video, letting someone just click on the “0:31″ in blue and see, in full, the point you’re referencing.
It’s a great way of adding context to your comment, but unfortunately, it currently only works in the comment section itself. Discussing the contexts of a particular moment in YouTube videos, however, can also be advantageous for your journalism.
In my searching for other possibilities to add video context to journalism, I stumbled upon TubeChop—I suggest you give it a try.
(Note: I didn’t say GIFs about journalism, like these news cats. Hopefully you’ve already seen those.)
The success of GIF-infused content in actual news content has some media circles buzzing around a longtime internet graphic capability: “Is this an overlooked tool, or just a fad?, “Are we Buzzfeedifying maintsream news orgs, or is that a silly question now?”, and “should journalists embrace them, or are they somehow detrimental to the craft?”
They aren’t all simple questions, and I don’t have answers. (I actually posed questions here, too.) But I can comfortably say there are indeed reasons the animated GIF can work well to tell a story online.
Likewise, there are reasons it may not.
Putting other debates aside, here are five simpler questions for journalists to consider on a case-by-case basis before using an animated GIF to help digitally tell your story. Read more
A yet-to-be-launched tool called Meograph promises to let you easily “create, playback and share beautiful stories in the context of when and where.” It’s a tool that’s still in pre-beta, but journalists and news organizations can get priority access for an invite.
Meograph released a demo of what the tool can do, using the fictional KVWM San Diego TV station as an example use case. Based on the examples, I wouldn’t yet call the resulting product “beautiful,” but the storytelling format is a compelling mishmash: timeline + audio + Google Maps + images + video+ hyperlinks (for adding more context and linking to stories).
Meograph helps automatically create, share, and watch interactive multimedia stories. Our first product pairs Google Earth with a timeline and multimedia overlays to tell stories in context of where and when.
Authoring is structured into a few simple prompts on an intuitive interface. Viewers get a new form of media that they can watch in 2 min or dig into for an hour. Sharing is easy: the two most viral types of media are videos and infographics … Meograph is both.
I’m not quite convinced that there are many use cases where this exact mishmash of media is the most powerful way to tell a story, but if you have any ideas, let me know in the comments. If you’re interested in testing the tool for a news organization, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ve seen the technique before. On TV commercials, on viral music videos, as user-created fan art — words swooping into the screen with flashy graphics while a narrator speaks over it. The technique is called kinetic typography (fancy way of saying “moving text”) and it’s an engaging way of relaying words and stats to your audience.
Put simply, kinetic typography is the practice of telling a text-based story through animated words, supplemented by graphics, charts, photos and/or video.
How journalists can apply the technique to storytelling
There’s huge value in being able to tell a story that people will read all the way through– from start to finish– and then share with all their friends and family. Kinetic type lends itself to exactly that kind of attentiveness and shareability.
I’m not alone in watching those videos all the way through, every time. We’re of a visual era. We like seeing content in a way that engages us, a way that attracts our full attention. These videos are addicting — but not just because they’re fun. You walk away from them with a new wealth of knowledge that is easily digestible and thus easily retainable.
From a journalistic standpoint, kinetic type has the most potential for effectiveness when used for stories that have massive amounts of data and statistics.
There are a few examples of news outlets already using kinetic type as a form of storytelling. GOOD Magainze (disclosue: I’m a huge GOOD fangirl), does it best in videos that integrate graphics, typography and other animation with narration and text:
The Economist and Shift Happens partner every year to do a “Did You Know?” video which includes statistics focusing on the changing media landscape. This example shows the power of pure text and graphics without any narration:
Kinetic type has been proven as an engaging format for storytelling in other arenas already:
Random people just for fun: Just search “kinetic typography” on YouTube and you’ll find tons of examples from people who make fan-art style videos using scenes from their favorite movies or excerpts from their favorite books. As a testament to the viralness associated with kinetic type videos, take a look at the number of views per video– some have hundreds of thousands.
Public relations and advocates: Kinetic type is especially powerful as a means of persuasion. If you have an agenda or viewpoint to push, kinetic type can be mixed with the right typeface, graphics and background music to make it particularly compelling. (Update: a great example of this is from Mindy McAdams in the comments — The Girl Effect– a video about a solution to poverty).
How to do it
To create a kinetic-type-style video with all the bells and whistles, you ideally need Adobe Illustrator and Adobe After Effects. This will allow you to do all the cool zooming, blurs and other effects. (Note: You can mimic the same effect using a series of images and adding a new word to each subsequent image, then dumping them into iMovie or SoundSlides, but it’s not efficient and I don’t recommend it.)
From experience, I have a few tips and tricks for saving time while creating a kinetic type video:
Before you get started, fully flesh out the exact copy you want to use. It’s a pain to go back and change even one word, especially if you’re going to narrate.
Keep the text simple. Short sentences. Think about which words and phrases are important from the start so you can later highlight them with a different color or motion.
Record the narration after you’re absolutely sure of the text you want to use. After you have a good working version, mix in your audio loop (I prefer getting free loops from Flashkit). Then match the text animation to the narration and the music.
I also recommend storyboarding. Do it by hand on a piece of paper or use a quick and easy mockup tool like GoMockingbird to get the general gist of which graphics/photos you want to include through the sequence.