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Interactive Digital Stories

Today I started work on an ambitious project with my HND Visual Communication class who are studying the unit 2D Animation for Visual Communication: Advanced (Dx3D 36) . We’re making an interactive digital story.

The idea was inspired by several interactive websites including Inanimate Alice, Dreaming Methods, Vector Park and Elevator Moods. I found these websites to be very engaging and interactive, sometimes weird, and sometimes fun. The students have spent some time on the sites and agreed that they were very good pieces of work and would love to be able to create something like them.

I started off by giving the class a simple, short story and asked them to think about how the story could be told through the medium of interactive animation.

We started off by throwing around a few different ideas and mindmapping them on the whiteboard, we then chose a few of these ideas to flesh out, then decided who would work on each part. We’re using a Facebook group to help manage the project and for class members to collaborate. Already we’ve posted the original mindmap, a list of tasks to be completed and added deadlines to the list of events. In time the students will upload their artwork and the class can provide feedback.

Initial mindmap

Some students’ work will rely on their classmates producing some other piece of work in advance, so there is a need for collaboration. For example, some students are creating artwork representing the rooms in a house, however they must wait for another student to create the floorplan of the house, who in turn must collaborate with the student who is designing the outside of the house. Other students in the group are starting preliminary work on later parts of the story – creating preliminary sketches and researching ideas. In two weeks time we plan to have the component parts of the first act of the story. We’ll take these parts, which are mostly images, and animate them and add interactive features.

Sophie's floorplan

You’re probably wondering what the story is that we’re making. It is the story of a 7 year old girl who is moving house with her parents. Her parents take her to visit the new house a few days before they move in, and during the visit the girl finds a discarded clothes peg. Some days later while staying with her grandmother the little girl confesses that she’s frightened about moving house and moving away from her friends and school. She shows her grandmother the clothes peg and asks what it is. The grandmother tells her it’s a ‘dolly peg’ and asks the girl to fetch the sewing basket. Grandmother then proceeds to turn the clothes peg into a doll, dressing it in offcuts of cloth, making hair for it and painting its face. The little girl loves the doll and it takes her mind off the house move. The girl takes her doll everywhere, to school, out shopping and to the park. One day she accidentally leaves the doll somewhere. The girl looks everywhere, but can’t find the doll. The girl is distraught and cries in her room The final scene sees the clothes dolly, minus its clothes, clipped to a washing line. It begins to rain and the raindrops look like tears on the doll’s face. Slowly the dolls face fades in the rain.

As well as creating this piece of interactive media we’re also going to be documenting the project as much as we can, with video clips of students working on the designs and perhaps interviews with each students who will tell us about their role in the production. Afterwards I hope to set up a website for the project with tutorials and information to help others create their own projects.

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