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Posted: October 30, 2005 08:57 PM
Exploring new territory in visual storytelling

By Stacy E. Gimbel
ONA Convention Online Staff

Video hyperlinks, 360-degree panoramic timelines and Flash slideshows are among the tools of visual storytellers. These tools are taking online journalists places that others have not gone before, telling stories few have heard. Four of the best visual storytellers shared their work and the tools that produced it in the “Visual Storytelling” panel Saturday afternoon.

David Dunkley Gyimah said he created his site, viewmagazine.tv, “out of part anger at what wasn’t being said.” His video-intensive pieces have told the stories of the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra and the lack of follow up to the Live8 event.

Gyimah said he developed his own site to prove to others what can be done with video online. In one showing of his homepage during the panel, six different moving images were available for the user to click.

He also showed the panel what he called a “crude” form of video hyperlinking. He played a video of an interview from the site. While it played, he clicked on the video, and it jumped to additional footage. When the additional segment finished, it jumped back to the original video clip. The hyperlink gives the user the opportunity to watch the edited-out segments of the shorter clip.

Gyimah shoots mostly ready-to-run footage. He uses Final Cut Pro on his iMac, producing complete packages within an hour to two days.

Naka Nathaniel of The New York Times laughed, saying that Gyimah’s a lot faster than he is. Nathaniel produces multimedia packages that cover places like Darfur, Sudan. He showed his piece “The Century’s First Genocide,” which he developed with op-ed writer Nicholas Kristof.

Nathaniel lamented that not enough journalists are traveling to cover events in "dangerous" places.

He showed the audience his backpack of equipment: a “hardy” PD150 video camera that “takes sand and water,” microphones, a mini-disc recorder and a Canon still camera 17 to 35 lens, which produces close-up shots.

“That’s what it’s all about — creating an intimate experience for somebody,” Nathaniel said.

However, because he and Kristof were in Darfur illegally, he shot all of the photos for the Genocide piece with a small, digital camera. He said the Western counterpart is a Canon SD 400.

Juliet Gorman, associate producer of POV.org, shared Point of View’s in-depth companion pieces to PBS’ documentaries.

One piece supplemented the documentary called “A Family Undertaking,” about home funerals. Instead of a traditional Flash timeline on death in American culture, POV used a 360-degree pan.

It created an “immersive visual environment,” Gorman said. The timeline also used unconventional navigation, linking figures in the panorama instead of a text menu. Gorman said this “mysterious” scheme gave the site a more “exploratory” feel.

Andrew DeVigal, of San Francisco State University, shared several resources to aid visual storytelling. To “oohs” and “ahhs” of the audience, DeVigal showed off Sound Slides software, which allows the online journalist to move pictures around in a combined audio slideshow.

He also showed the audience his site Interactive Narratives, which provides links to both pieces of excellent visual storytelling and tools used in creating them.

The following links will take you to some of the panelists’ work, sites they referenced, and resources they use.

Naka Nathaniel
“The Century’s First Genocide”

Juliet Gorman
“A Family Undertaking”
“A Tale of Three Cities”
“Seed Stewards”

David Dunkley Gyimah
View Magazine

Andrew DeVigal
Interactive Narratives
Professor Devigal
The Golden Gate [X]press Online

Slide Show Pro Sound Slides

About this site

News on the 2005 conference is produced by the Online News Association Student Newsroom, which is supported by grants from the Scripps Howard Foundation, National Association of Black Journalists, and CBSNews.com.

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