Dynamic Storytelling: The Rebirth of Multimedia Experiences
In the increasingly competitive battle for user attention, creators need to leverage new technology to captivate in the most engaging manner to attract an audience. This need, combined with technological advances, has given birth to dynamic storytelling through multimedia experiences.
The Rise of Multimedia Storytelling
Multimedia storytelling is defined by the use of various mediums (text, graphics, audio and video) in a mixed format to create an immersive digital experience. It is important to tell a story that is designed to leverage various digital platforms in order to extend the narrative. Each platform should add relevance and coherence to the story. Readers can become both contributors and consumers of content. Sharing content builds a relationship with the story as it grows and adapts. In this article, I have pulled together examples of dynamic storytelling through multimedia experiences and outlined the characteristics that make them stand out.
The multi-chapter series, Snowfall, uses full-screen video and side vignettes to provide the reader with greater context for the experience-based feature story. The real life people in the series have integrated bios and tell “stories within the stories” to create greater context for the reader. Snowfall was heralded as the future of online journalism and storytelling and set a standard for future online news features.
Collaboration and Social Media
One of the easiest ways to engage users in creating and pushing a story forward is by inviting users to contribute content to the story helps maintain the momentum of their experiences. Providing a general narrative or framework for user generated content creates a community that engages users, and as users contribute content they become invested in the process of storytelling. In the Johnny Cash Project, users contribute images of Johnny Cash as the project grows and evolves; these images are sequenced into a music video and users can explore the individual image contributions as the music video plays.
The New York Times’ Your Biking Wisdom in 10 Words allows users to share their biking experiences in ten words or less, creating an interactive mosaic of shared moments, stories and rants from a cyclist’s perspective. Neighborhoods and bike paths become the context of the narrative.
Social media and customization has made multimedia storytelling dynamic and personalized by integrating and weaving a user’s social media data into a storyline. In The Most Glorious Survey Ever, the user becomes part of the story through personalized imagery and context changes as they answer questions in real-time.
Innovation and Engagement
[murmur] was an archival audio project that collected and curated audio stories. Users called a specific phone number to experience and listen to a story while in specific Toronto locations. [murmur] allowed users to experience the physical location while listening to the story, creating an integrated “being there” experience.
Dynamic storytelling can be a shared experience. The band Coldplay has used radio controlled LED wristbands and beach balls to make the audience an integral part of the light show and graphic interplay with the lyrics of songs that they perform. The contextual aspects of time, place and environment become part of the experience. Concert light shows enhance the musical experience. As the light moves from the on screen projection to the crowd itself, being part of the light show adds to the concert goer’s immersive experience.
Pushing existing technologies creates new ways to tell traditional stories. Taking a simple concept and placing it onto a new platform quickly takes a “choose your own adventure” narrative in a new direction. Deliver Me to Hell uses embedded interactive elements within the video to push the narrative forward.
The Other Side engaged users by telling two sides of a linear stories simultaneously; in it, users can flip between two streams of video, allowing them to see “the other side of the story.”
Together Tales engages children by putting them at the centre of the story through the use of print books, interactive games, web and outdoor adventure activities.
Mobile Data, The Next Frontier
The next frontier in dynamic storytelling will be the use of mobile geolocation data and its integration of the user into location based storylines and building collaborative experiences. The use of geolocation data was a major part of the Pokemon GO! experience, requiring players to walk to specific locations to interact with game elements through augmented reality. Individual players can create real world relationships by interacting with players at physical locations, i.e. Pokemon gyms.
The use of both augmented and virtual reality into mobile experiences is just beginning. Geolocation data will further enhance the temporal, spatial, social and semantic experiences of dynamic storytelling. Engagement and distribution are driving factors of dynamic storytelling where users can integrate themselves temporally and spatially into an immersive storyline or experience.