Digital Story-Telling

AOSWP_0_1_preview

Definition of Digital Stories

In the context of Art Of Sequence projects, a digital story is defined as any narrative which complete these conditions:

  1. is designed to be read on a digital platform;
  2. exploit the procedural nature of digital platforms;

By “designed to be read on a digital platform” we mean that the story is either graphic or auditive or both and is meant to be displayed on a screen. This include webcomics, videos, texts online, etc. However, there is no need for new technologies to make a classic webcomic, video or text.

But for us, digital stories are also “born digital”. They have one important common particularity: they cannot be transposed to another medium which is not a computer without a lot of adaptation work.

Most webcomics can be put in a book easily. Most videos can be watched in a movie theater without modification. Here we are not talking about these kind of stories but really those that “exploit the procedural nature of digital platforms”.

But what does it mean?

Procedural Nature of Digital Platforms

Digital platforms have the capacity to produce content depending on algorithms, by responding to some input from the user, using directives from a program or other info.

The results of this procedural nature is that we can:

  • use a combination of digital media to tell the story (text, images, sounds, music, animations, video, games…);
  • use transitions between each step into the reading a story (for example, fade outs…);
  • tell a story depending on reader’s navigation (“if” the reader do this, then tell that);
  • repeat as much content as we want in the story (“make this part loop until we get out of the scene”);
  • make the computer build part or all of the story;
  • adapt the story to the reader’s capability (localization, usability for handicapped people, etc.) 

Most digital stories will only use one of these points, but they are all made possible by the platform: computers. Some capabilities, like loops and conditions, are really advanced and should not be used until mastered by authors. However, the role of Art Of Sequence is to allow authors to exploit the full capabilities of computers to tell stories, without limitations. Usually, it would require programming skills. This is part of why Art Of Sequence have been started: to allow authors to build born-digital stories without programming skills.

Examples of Digital Stories

Using Art Of Sequence

We have an online demo using AOS Web Player: http://demo.artofsequence.org

It’s a constant work-in-progress demo showing a little story that you can read in a browser. It’s all web-based (HTML5/JavaScript/CSS3). It’s not finished yet but it shows several things:

  • it reuses the same images and just transform them a bit to tell the story;
  • it shows that you can tell a linear story even if you put branches (choice/conditions) and loops in it;

“TurboMedia”

There are several names for this kind of stories. They mix static images, sometime animations, but the most important thing to understand is that all the narrative relies on the changes, the transitions, like in all stories fundamental structures. TurboMedia are the initial inspiration for Art Of Sequence.

Notice that because of lack of other useful tools, all these stories are made using Flash. Also, most of them don’t use branches and loops (because it requires a lot of programming to get right). Some of them use interactions, most of them have animations in transitions.

Experimentation