Scan the Barcode and get Flawless to the (Pine) Point
The interactive projects of the National Film Board of Canada are stories told through digital storytelling. This method of storytelling is a type of “practice of using computer-based tools to tell stories (Digital Storytelling, 2011). To create a digital story, producers and authors generate a script, record it and make use of pictures and music to tell the story (Lambert, 2002).
The goal of this assignment is to critically analysis three interactive projects and to explore what makes them an interactive success or failure. The three projects chosen are Flawed, Barcode and Pine Point. These three movies will be examined according to their elements of world building and narration to assess their strengths and weaknesses.
The barcode project intends to shed a different light than one might think of at first hand on daily objects. It is an interactive experience, where the audience is involved by selecting the object to be discussed.
As Carson (2008) discusses, one of the main elements for world building is giving audiences an opportunity to do things they could never do. The producers of Barcode focus on letting people do things they would never do.
Barcode stands out in comparison to the other two projects selected, because it is even more interactive. Not only do consumers have more to ‘click’, they can even scan objects with their laptop cameras, making it more fun and feel as if they are a part of the imaginative world.
Where the camera is the projects’ biggest strength, it is also its biggest weakness. When one accesses the camera, it is difficult to return to selecting objects by clicking. This difficulty places the consumer back in real life, having to solve the software problem.
Also, a surprising side-effect is combining two world. Usually franchises are used to explore both the digital as the real-world experience (Kapoor, 2012), however this project succeeds in combining the two in one project: it builds a new story in a digital world around a real-world object. As extensions that make this combination possible often lead to fan behavior (Kapoor, 2012), one can imagine this will also happen with this project. It is not unthinkable fans will ad clips on their own portraying the items yet in another way.
The shared mood, which refers to a collective concern for an activity or experience (Burbules, 2002), is created within the short clips. Every consumer perceives objects in a certain way, different from others. However, by showing every consumer the same clip a collective understanding, and thus shared mood, is created.
Every clip shows a different object, told by a different narrator. The narrator determines the plot, creating a story around the object. Surprisingly products form the plot in this project, consolidating the attention to it (Scolari, 2009). Since the narrator varies each clip so does pacing and the word choice, creating a different atmosphere each time (Six elements, n.d.).
Overall Barcode can be rated as successful in terms of being an interactive project. It does not only offer consumer with choices along the way, it also gives them the possibility to involve the consumers’ surroundings. However, the project could be made user-friendlier by overcoming some bugs in the software.
Also, exciting about this project is that clear narrative elements can be recognized while being placed in a world where consumers can do things they would never do themselves. Barcode brings the daily objects to life in a different way.
Flawed is a clip based on the physical shortcomings of individuals and how the surrounding world looks at it. It is a story told in a first person point of view concerning a girl who shares her experience of growing up with the addiction of comparing herself to surrounding individuals while seeing herself as flawed due to her ‘big’ nose.
Carson (2008) claims that with storytelling one needs to create a world for the audience to step in. In Flawed the audience is captured in the world of the reality of not being perfect and this is completed successfully as numerous individuals encounter this feeling.
Since it is marked as an interactive project one does expect an interactive clip; unfortunately the water-colored romance does not meet this standard, as viewers are incapable of interacting while the story is being expressed. However, this does not conclude that the movie only has limitations as it also contains unique components. One’s eye is opened in the end, when the narrator releases her fear after she reveals her dark secret to her love, a plastic surgeon. The strength in the movie is the view that nobody is perfect and we should accept ourselves for who we are.
Dugdale (2012) mentioned that using characterization techniques will breathe life into the manner in which a story is told. This is present in Flawed, as the shared mood of the story is characterized as depressing and sad and this emotion is expressed in the voice of the narrator. In addition, the pacing is slow which contributes the gloomy mood contributed by the author.
As Carson (2008) mentioned a story has to answer the main question “Where am I”. Through the successful narration elements in this clip, the audience is constantly reminded that they are confronted with a reality related situation. This experience makes the clip prosperous; as it is a story numerous individuals deal with and can relate to. It is a reoccurring story that can aid individuals with the feeling of being flawed.
Flawed keeps the audience members attracted to the clip as the authors uses the element ‘stop and go’. This is when “middle segments of a project are suspended, while other parts continue” (Kapoor, 2012). The goal of the narrator seems to keep the attention of the audience while making pauses throughout the script to maintain the suspense.
To conclude, the biggest strength in the movie makes it a valuable project. A life lesson can be learned when experiencing this project: nobody is perfect and we should accept ourselves for who we are. Nevertheless, in terms of being an interactive project Flawed was not flawless and could have made it more interactive. Although the audience did get involved by making the story relatable, there was not that much to interact with.
The title of the project, Pine Point, refers to where the story is set. The main character reviews the way the place, together with his life in it, used to be. It is an evolving story, highlighting the different aspects from the story, from the town to the people in it.
A story can be considered powerful when it takes consumers to a place they would never go, and also lets consumers be someone they could never be (Carson, 2008). These are two (out of 3) elements that can be found in Pine Point. Pine Point takes the audience back to the history and draws them in the life of the narrator. Compared to the two projects before, it is unique that the producer really conveys the atmosphere of his story by the looks of the digital world, apart from the story told and shown in pictures and clips.
Unfortunately there are also several weaknesses in this project. First of all, Pine Point shows to be a very long interactive experience, perhaps too long for the consumers to keep their attention. Secondly, the project is not interactive enough as the audience only has the option to switch chapters or click to the next photo, just like a real photo-album. To form a complete story more interactivity is preferred.
The world is not only build by communication techniques; it is even more so formed by a character, plot and setting, so all regular elements of a narrative (Kapoor, 2012).
It is obvious who the main character is, the narrator, as he is telling his story from a first person point of view. Sometimes using it enforces the feeling of being the “I” in the story for the audience (Fleming, n.d.), however with the setting and plot it is clear the I is a different character. The people he ran into during his life in Pine Point form the minor characters of the story. In this way the main person is characterized indirectly, formed by stories he is surrounded with.
Just as in the clip of Flawed, the audience is constantly reminded of where he/she is, answering the main question in a story (Carson, 2008). The audience experiences the past set in a place called Pine Point, the consumers can feel the vibe it had and see what it looked like.
Because the narrator tells the story at a slow pace (Six elements, n.d.), with a low voice, he conveys a sad feeling. The pictures showed all of a sudden change in pictures of the ‘good old times’, instead of happy memories, and the audience feels a shared mood of going back to it. It seems as if by narrating the story this way, the audience is forced to fight an internal conflict, deciding what was better, the past or the present.
Thus, overall this project has failed its intentions. Where it should be an interactive experience, it is most of the time just clicking to a next page, as going through a photo album. Although the narrative elements to form a lovely story about history are present, the tediousness makes it hard for the audience to keep paying attention to it and stay put until the end. To make it a more successful story it should be more interactive and concise. Giving the audience options will combine these two aspects, e.g. the audience can select to hear stories either about the place or the people. Along the way the options are repeated as timelines cross. Pine Point will no longer be a bit dull and passive experience, but a exciting travel in history.
World Building contains three elements, that is the aspect of taking the audience to an environment they would never go, let them create a new character and allow them to do things they could never do (Carson, 2000). These features were present in the three interactive projects mentioned above, Barcode, Flawed and Pine Point. Each story gave individuals the opportunity to enjoy the clips interactively while entering a digital world created with narrative elements.
Even though there were a few drawbacks concerning the story clips, each project offered the audience new awareness of several topics, whether it was a different insight concerning various objects, a lesson about being flawed or following the experiences created in someone’s life.
While examining these three projects it became clear that making a clip interactive is not as easy as it might seem. To really get audiences involved – and be able to call a clip an interactive project – creating a new world with narrative elements is not enough. Audiences should feel like they are part of the newly created digital world by asking them to do certain things, which has been done in Barcode by asking them to scan products in their own environment. An interactive project is more than just clicking and being able to relate to the story as is done in Flawed and Pine Point. It is important to keep the real world in mind while creating a new digital one, just as Carson (2008) confirms.
By: M.F. van en Berg (359807) & C. Boekaar (358299)
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