How to tell a story in the new media

In essence, the art of storytelling haven't changed much since fire was invented. People have always been driven by the same needs; they always acted upon the same feelings. That is why the same story elements people identified with haven't changed as well: Odysseus is Rocky, Romeo and Juliet meet again on board the Titanic and Frankenstein is reincarnated in Jurassic park.  What have changed are the mediums: Verbal storytelling is not a dialogue on stage or a visual experience on the screen.

When web and mobile video came to be, it meant a brave new medium. The same basic hero was met with the same basic obstacles but the way to tell his story effectively becomes more and more distinct.

Following are ten aspects, from technical to conceptual, about video content creation for the new media screens. There is an emphasis on web series as it is emerging as the most developed narrative for digital platforms.

1. Camera – until proven otherwise on a larger scale, new media screens are small, and small screens love them close ups. It's not only that people respond well to faces, it's also that close up is the type shot that most retains its strength on a web or mobile player. Thus, shoot your important scenes also in tighter medium and CU shots, just so you'll have them to work with in editing. (E.g. The guild)

2. Sound – Flash does to sound what it does to video – It compresses the file on expense of the track's highs and lows. What happens is that the human voice might sound lower when played on the site than it did in the final mix, and the background noise stronger. When your soundtrack has more than just voice, it is recommended to upload a video file that was exported with a higher voice level than sounded reasonable when editing. (Here is a film I uploaded with perfect sound that was much less audible once converted on you tube)

3. Editing -. There are no second chances to make a first impression so it is important to examine your final cut on a screen the size of a new media player. This is the size in which your content will be experienced

4. Quality – For the most part the user gets the same experience whether you upload a 20MB file or a 40MB file. But more and more sites offer a better a quality viewing option and more and more people are watching online video through their TV set. Thus, a bigger, better quality file will have a longer shelf life. (E.g. Life from the Inside, and watch the second version as well)

5. Cast – Tough you can technically create a web soap with 30 participants, its advisable not to. This because 1. You don't want such a tangled story-line that would discourage fresh viewers from getting into it halfway and 2. New Media budgets are low and money is not enough incentive for your actors. Less actors means less schedule conflicts means fewer headaches. (An Interview with the creator of "Something to be Desired" who talks about this issue)

6. Popular culture – 1. New media content started from UGC with reality TV in the background. This led to a first wave of successful web series who feel and look was intentionally unpolished. Thus, low budget is not a storytelling obstacle 2. Although the creative output includes more and more genres, the absolute dominant genre in New Media is comedy. This is because Humor can flourish within any production value 3. The net has been kind to "the nerd" and gave a lot of air time to his embarrassment (e.g. Clark and Michael). 4. Other elements that proved apt for new media are: web cam shots, Parodies, Pseudo-news, green screens and Hunger as a theme.

7. Format – Most webisodes are 4 to 6 minutes (longer than UGC, shorter than the viewer's patience) most web shows seasons are made of 6 to 12 episodes.

8. New media – If you tell a story in the New Media, use New Media to enhance it: open a blog for your characters, start a forum on the story's subject, create a profile for your character on facebook, (e.g. Donnie Hoyle from "you suck at Photoshop") expand your story other sites through "treasure hunts" or ARG, build a social network (wordpress has a widget), let the audience affect plotlines. Even something as small as adding a foreign language subtitles, through the caption feature, can render your creation accessible to millions more potential viewers.

9. Goals – consumers of digital storytelling won't expect old media's production values but they will compare some elements with their general viewing. If you don't live up to your initial promise of: episodes per month, day of release, story's level of tension or amount of laughs, they will leave.

10. Marketing and expectations – It is important to have reasonable expectations regarding the amount of views you can achieve. If you can, cooperate with s video site or portal, in that case being on the "editor's picks" would take you the farthest you can go. Spread the first episodes around the web, RSS your episodes, Send emails to bloggers and entertainment journalist informing them of your show, speak of your work highly and anonymously in relevant forums, get a celebrity to do a guest part and have your video linked to.

The most important aspect of new media storytelling is a good story; everything else is just proper translation for the digital screens.

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