AC Digital Networked Narratives 2020

There's more than one way to tell a story.

Author: nchaviers

Final Project – Crenshaw County

Published / by nchaviers

Link to the game/ARG/terminal

Link to the design doc

So, to say the least, I didn’t get this developed nearly as far as I wanted to. I think I started on something big later than I should have and all of my classes caught up to me. Ideally, this would be a whole big ARG and I’d post things a bit more discreetly, but the end of the semester has come to pass, so getting anything I have turned in is necessary.

What did I learn? Well, for one, giving yourself hard deadlines is super important. This has made me really reconsider how I go about working on projects and pace myself. I really need to start assignments as they’re assigned and need to make sure I give each element of the project plenty of time to consider. Things I thought would just take a moment took way longer. Pace, pace, pace.

I’d also say that while this didn’t go as planned, I think it would’ve been really cool to flesh out. I, at least, think it was a neat story and concept, and that the semester as a whole has really given me hope in being able to develop something cool story-wise.

So, ultimately, yes, it’s incomplete. It’s not nearly how I wanted this post or this project to be. But, I would say I’m definitely taking a lot away from it and want to do better on the next one.

Fail Badge – My Procrastination

Published / by nchaviers

This isn’t so much a fail on anything specific as it is just carrying out projects as a whole.

As we arrive here the end of the semester, I’ve found myself in the same position I usually do with my media courses: on the last day of the semester, submitting whatever I can to the portfolio and crossing my fingers. Ideally, I would have paced myself to finish these projects like a week at a time (the class structure did help with this), but between my own motivation and the chaotic life-and-schedule changer that is this whole pandemic, I think I fell behind somewhere in each of my classes. I went from turning in work weekly to having to set my own schedule and work with the shifting ones of professors and assignments, going like 2 weeks at least without doing a single bit of work. Looking back, I probably could’ve gotten a lot done in that time – maybe writing this out for something else or maybe doing an extra critical review or two.

I think the end of the semester is where I get the most done, for better or for worse. While I do feel like I put out some of my better work in this self-imposed crunch time, I think I need to find the right balance of deadlines and personal time to just keep getting more projects out. I need to realize, even if I can’t go into my studio and edit something together, I can still write as much as I want from home. Especially with my independent study (keep an eye out here! no spoilers yet) coming up next semester, I’m going to really need to make sure I can stick to the deadlines I give myself.

Ideally, this is the last of my self imposed crunch times.

Critical Review – The Midnight Gospel

Published / by nchaviers
Trailer for Netflix’s The Midnight Gospel

Where discussion of what’s real meets the surreal.

Quite fittingly released on 4/20 this year, The Midnight Gospel has proven to be one of the more weird and out there productions by Netflix. A co-effort by comedian and podcast host Duncan Trussell and Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward, this show takes place in an alternate dimension called the “Chromatic Ribbon”. It’s here that Clancy, voiced by Trussell, travels between various worlds and hosts his ‘spacecast’, wherein he interviews different beings, from characters like “Little President” and “The Love Barbarian” to “Death” and the actual Ram Dass (the only guest feature who doesn’t actually take on a moniker.

See the source image
Clancy, the show’s main character and interview host

The show, while being very visually appealing, will probably hit a bit more of a niche audience. Firstly, you have the stoner crowd looking for their colorful vibes outlet and an existential curious look at what makes up the world around us via the lens of another world. But you could also bring in an audience like myself who, while certainly interested in the topics of discussion and art style, are drawn to this unique blend of podcasting and animation.

To frame a narrative around something not meant as an episodic story is quite difficult and, while the narrative does feel kind of all over the place at times (which is where the general audience might limit or lose itself), the show works with what it has and manages to pull of something cohesive and entertaining, which is no small feat.

See the source image
Clancy at his trailer, where he’s usually at before every interview

Though it may attract a more specific audience, the choice to release this as an animated series is probably the best way to convey what’s being discussed in the podcast. You have these interviewees who, while engaging in and of themselves, are discussing these large abstract concepts like love, death, the effectiveness of drugs, and meditative mindfulness. However, by bringing in the narrative and the animation, you gain an entirely new depth of attention and engagement with the audience.

In one of our earlier readings, Alexander states that “A story without [a transformation of a state of being] will often feel flat, its emotional range blunted” (p.11). When you bring in this fictional narrative to these discussions, you also must make sure that the story doesn’t feel secondary or fall flat. As the episodes of the show progress, we learn more about Clancy, who he is, and why we care. We learn about the world and the characters inhabiting it while simultaneously engaging with these non-narrative podcast discussions.

I think this show succeeds at what it set out to do, bringing together fans of animation with fans of podcasting and fans of philosophy. By combining these elements of different media, the storied animation and podcasting, you get something totally unique to Netflix and unlike any show currently on air.

The Archives – Digital Story

Published / by nchaviers

For my digital story project, I wanted to make something that was a bit out there and a bit weird. This is the story of Bob, an employee worn out by his cubicle life, who’s asked to get something from the company’s archive room.

While this doesn’t really feature a consistent narration, there’s a clear narrative throughout of Bob (physically, through mild animation) moving throughout the office building. There’s a clear beginning (given the task), middle (journey to the archives), and the end (forgetting to close the doors in the end).

I’ve added some soundscapes and sound effects in the background. I feel like these help build the world around them and give the video a bit more life than static images with just voice would.

The images (characters, objects, and backgrounds) were all sourced from google, labelled for reuse. The sound effects are from freesound.org. The soundscapes were sourced from youtube, and I can add more crediting to the description if needed.

Project Proposal: Crenshaw County

Published / by nchaviers

What is the nature of the concept?

In August of 1993, a boy vanished in Crenshaw County overnight. Years later, you receive a mysterious note telling you that things might not be as they seem and begin your investigation into the case.

Note: This is not set in a real/existing Crenshaw County, though bits may be based on real cases/reports.

Who is the audience for the story?

Fans of sci/fi, suspense, and conspiracy-related stories, probably 13+. Might be a small amount of language in dialogue, but nothing too obscene.

What media do you have in mind?

There will be a police/doc terminal built in twine, with passages that are only revealed after finding key words. Twine will serve as more of a “database” rather than a game/novel. Pieces of the story will develop here.

I want to include one or two 5-10 minute podcast episodes about the incident, along with one news audio recording.

I also want to open it with a short search-story-esque video for framing and setting up the narrative. Like an introduction/trailer.

What existing resources will you draw upon to create it (i.e., are there specific texts – video, audio, images, or even stories) that will serve as part of your narrative or a significant reference for it’s form?

I want the police terminal to have a similar feel to Her Story, though I don’t want to get nearly as technical with a searchable database (though, if that’s not too difficult to implement, I could look into it.

For the introductory video, I’ll be using a combination of a google search screen capture and royalty free stock photos. Music and sound effects will either be royalty free as well or recorded by myself.

Search Story – How To Fight a Bully

Published / by nchaviers
How To Fight a Bully

Before starting, yes, this is under the 90 second time limit.

I feel like this is a concise and tight enough story with the time length. However, if it must be over 90 seconds, then I’m open to suggestions on where to go from here.

In coming up with it, I definitely wanted to go the comedic route. The framing for this is a kid who’s tired of being pushed around, just wanting to see if there’s anything he can do to get out of bullying.

While making it, I actually had the idea to go the karate route after seeing the wikihow. Of course a kid can’t afford $40/hr, so he turns to youtube videos and searching up other ways to win. I did have the punchline (no pun intended) in mind from the start, though.

I definitely would like to make another search story after learning how to do this one. Maybe something more dramatic? It’ll take some thinking, for sure.

GIF and Portfolio Update: 2/19/20

Published / by nchaviers

Here’s my GIF project submission for this week. Heads up, there are some spoilers ahead.

Whiplash (2014) – Directed by Damien Chazelle

This is from the final scene in Whiplash, including the final shot. I chose this because, firstly Whiplash is probably my favorite movie right now. But also, I think this scene is the perfect climax and high point the movie needed to end on.

Throughout the film, Andrew (played by Miles Teller) is constantly trying to prove himself to people. He’s proving himself to his parents, and showing that drumming is more than just a hobby for him; he’s proving himself to Fletcher (played by JK Simmons), that he has what it takes to be the next legendary jazz drummer; he’s proving to himself as well that he’s capable of beating the odds and pushing himself to his fullest ability.

This scene comes at the very end, after he’s already had Fletcher fired for his insanely strict and abusive teaching methods. Fletcher asks him to perform in this show, and Andrew agrees. However, Fletcher blindsides Andrew by revealing he knows that Andrew got him fired, just as the show is starting. He has the band play a piece that Andrew doesn’t know, attempting to embarrass him on stage.

Andrew has a few missteps, and tries to pick up, but struggles immensely. He almost gives up, and walks off stage. However, he comes back on and leads the band in “Caravan”, a piece he knows by heart. He begins without Fletcher’s instruction and takes charge, absolutely dominating the song.

By taking lead, Andrew shows Fletcher, his father (who’s in the audience), and even himself that he can be the greatest and will do anything to get there. The last look and nod they give to each other is that approval Andrew is seeking so desperately throughout the film, and shows his relief in knowing he’s made it.

PORTFOLIO

I don’t have much for this week, but I am working on a bigger project.

I’m still trying to develop a story that’ll at least be told through twitter and audio segments. Not entirely sure on the whole narrative of it all, either (vague, I know) but between my classes and everything I just didn’t set aside enough time this week to get anything big rolling.

I also still need to re-work that audio badge – at least, maybe. If I can have the audio portion play into the “social media story” project, then I might not need to develop a new project. Maybe I can make something totally different?

Student-Designed Proposal: Audio Narrative

Published / by nchaviers

This is a draft proposal for a new assignment – please give feedback in the comments or in class!

(15 pts, x1 max)

Description: For this assignment, you will create a short piece of narrative fiction based entirely in recorded audio and edited sound. This can either be objective, like a radio serial, or from a personal perspective, like a podcast. The clip should be 5-8 minutes long and have at least 2 distinct characters, utilizing sound and music overlay as well. The purpose of this exercise is to display an alternative form of narrative storytelling without a visual aid for telling said story.

Along with your audio narrative, you will post a screenshot of your editing timeline (audacity, audition, premiere, etc.), post a link to your script, and post a 150-250 word Author’s Statement as well to explain your process of writing this narrative and what steps you took to telling this story effectively.

Evaluation Criteria: ​

  • Does the narrative presented have at least 2 distinct characters?
  • Does it use sound effectively to tell the story?
    • It will be clear/undistorted and leveled evenly
    • It will be edited smoothly and coherently so there are no distracting elements and the focus remains on the narrative
  • Do the music and sound effects selections enhance the listener’s understanding of the presented narrative (as opposed to hinder it)?
  • Is your Author’s Statement clear and concise?
  • Does your Author’s Statement elaborate on the piece and provide context for its form?