An international group of animation filmmakers, web designers and illustrators, will explore the possibilities of interactive storytelling, using their own material. Workshop tool is the Korsakow System, which allows authors to deal with content and concepts straight away, without excessively dwelling on technical complications. The results can be published on CD-rom, DVD-rom or the Internet.
No specific technical knowledge is required. During the workshop technical and conceptual assistance is constantly available!
In five days the possibilities of interactive storytelling will be extensively researched, and each participant will design an interactive project based on his own story. This could be an interactive version of an existing film, or a film that has not yet been edited. Also a storyboard can offer interesting material to explore an idea in further depth. If you don’t have material to work with, the workshop organizers will be able to arrange material for you.
While discussing and learning with and from the other participants and experienced trainers, the participant design and build a working interactive story. To tell a story interactively through film allows new possibilities, but also forces the teller to empathize with the user, who will influence the course of the story within the boundaries set by the director.
The final results will be presented on the 5th of November from 10.00 am – 12.00 am at the Holland Animation Film Festival in Utrecht.
This workshop is made possible with the support of the MEDIA PLUS PROGRAMME of the European Community and OCW
by Nadya Peek
A common characteristic of any animator is the desire to attain perfection, even if it means hours of meticulous refining and a slightly neurotic streak in one’s personality. In the HAFF/Mediamatic Interactive Animation Workshop that took place in November 2004, this characteristic was extracted, embraced and exhausted to produce some fine specimens of interactive narration.
Interactive film is a medium that has yet to experience its explosion into commonly used ways of storytelling. Therefore, each project that is created during a workshop has the possibility of treading on paths that have not been beaten down. This way, the projects developed are not only of interest to an outside public, but also very much so to the interactive film making folk, or should we say, us here at Mediamatic.
A commonly found trend during the HAFF workshop was that many of the participants chose to work with static images as opposed to film. This is possibly a result of an animator's desire make each image truly speak a thousand words, but also a reflection of the days of labor each second of animation requires. The choices made tended towards -what to add to nothing- as opposed to -what to remove from something-.
This was not only noticed in the visuals and sounds of the projects themselves, which were strikingly straightforward, such as in Stijn Pardon's 'Daddy or Die' project (only icon-like pictures), but also in the interactive structures that the projects used. For what exactly makes the interactive experience; is it the narrative content, or the actual interaction with the user, or the context the project places the user into because of the interaction? How much masterminding does an interactive project need?
The most natural answer is of course a combination of the narration, interaction and context. However, it seems to be that if one places most stress on the narrative content of the interactive project, the end result often becomes something that would have been better off not being interactive at all. This does not necessarily mean that in an interactive project the less-is-more theory should apply to narrative, but certainly that one should not forget one is making an interactive project, and not simply a film or storybook.
In Digna van der Put's project, questions are constantly asked to which the user can respond in three different ways. By responding in a particular way to these questions, the user dons a certain attitude with which he views the following film fragments. However, the following film fragments are the same regardless of the choice of the user. The user will receive the reply "oh, really" when he says he thinks he is an easy person, but also if he says he thinks he is not an easy person. The response provided by the project is really only a trigger for the user to contemplate his own answers, and therefore a reflection of the user. It is truly only the context in which the user has placed himself by means of choosing that determines the interactivity of the project.
The role the author grants the user seems to be an important element in the late Korsakow projects, as in Digna's project, where the user was conversing with the main character in the most intimate way, or in Olga Vázquez Ruano's project, in which the user would navigate a space while combining sound and image in a kind of DJ/VJ working fashion. It is of course quite obvious that while making interactive projects the role the user receives is important, since it is not hardly the product, but the experience which could make the project worthwhile.
Experience as a tool as opposed to a product, to make things yet more cryptic, is something that some animators also strove for. Marina Estela Graça had Korsakow make links for her so that she could explore the different associative possibilities of her material beyond her own masterminding capabilities. Since the links are generated by the computer, instead of thought of by the author, new possibilities can be introduced which would never initially have occurred to the author.
Many more possibilities of Korsakow and even of life in general were explored as well, including the discovery of the ctrl button and the introduction of the xxxKILLERKEYWORD, but in the end, summing them all up might undo the magic of the moment. Three Korsakow/HAFF projects were presented to the public, but hopefully the participants will continue making more works for the general development of interactive narration.