For my final project, I wanted to focus on developing my cinematic, video editing, and audio skills. The video focuses on my relationship with my new cat and the different ways that she’s helped me in my life. There are a few things that I would like to add to this over time, including more videos and photos of her and a bit more depth to the voiceover. My phone camera wasn’t as good as I would like, so I’m hoping to get a better one to make my videos and photos sharper. I plan on doing this over the summer so I can add it to my portfolio. Overall, I’m glad I was able to do this project and I’m excited to keep working on it and see it evolve.View Post
Here is the draft of my final project!View Post
For my final project, I will be reconstructing my diagrammatic project into a visual, cinematic piece. My plan is to record different backgrounds and short scenes while using the dialogue from the original to help tell the story. The plot will revolve around two siblings that gradually grow apart due to conflict. The story illustrates the chemistry and friendship to eventual fallout. I will be using a mixture of narration, text on-screen, and background footage that fits the dialogue.
The project will be a video with music, video, and text. I plan on making a few changes to make the storyline more suitable for the medium. I want some aspects of the characters to be ambiguous and to focus more on how the imagery, text, and audio tell the story together. My goal is to use the dialogue as meaningfully and sparingly as possible. I’m also hoping to take this project as an opportunity to showcase my video editing, sound mixing, and storytelling skills for my portfolio. As I’ve been going through senior seminar, I’ve realized that highlighting some of these other abilities could be useful. While I’ve been outlining the story, I found several of the in-class video narratives to be great inspirations for how I want to frame my own work. I am also going to watch more short films to get an idea of best practices. Overall, I’m excited to begin this project and develop more of my skills. I believe this will be a strong piece to put on my portfolio once it is finished.View Post
I enjoy playing many narrative games, but one of my favorites is Spiritfarer. In it, you are a young girl with her cat who are chosen to be ferrymasters that find spirits and fulfill their final wishes, eventually taking them to the afterlife. Spiritfarer has a relaxing atmosphere despite the narrative and is often defined as a “cozy” game. A part of the management genre, the goals revolve around building up your boat with new rooms, collecting resources, exploring islands, and fulfilling quests. Besides mini-games, there are no time-sensitive tasks and no way to get a game over. The music and art style are soft and playful, adding to the peaceful ambience.
The plotline mainly comes from the spirits that you meet and bring onto your boat as you travel. Each one is a different animal with their own unique personality and backstory that you learn about as you complete quests for them. The conflicts in the story are minimal or have occurred in the past and are explored through dialogue. Every island adds lore to the spirit world and creates a more immersive experience. In these ways, the mechanics help drive the storyline forward. However, the game itself hinges on the plot and characters, as it is the reason behind all of the tasks you must complete.
I think Spiritfarer is a strong example of weaving storytelling with gameplay. Both sides are intertwined and illustrate how video games can explore complex themes like death. Overall, I think Spiritfarer is a lesser known model of how a game can tell a strong story.View Post
I found the usage of symbols, index, and icons in the story “Forever” by Alan Bigelow to be an interesting way of keeping the audience engaged while still exploring the plot’s themes. The story itself unfolds using commonplace icons like the messaging symbols displayed on the phone. By doing so, it places the user in a situation that feels familiar to them and creates immersion.
Another way in which the story uses icons is how it transitions to different screens that the audience can identify with. An example of this is when it shows “rate your professor” while the text helps the user understand the characters and their personalities better. In doing this, the audience can relate the plot to their own lives as most have probably used similar websites.
Another aspect of the story that I found interesting is the way it uses indexes to focus the audience on a particular video or image. Oftentimes, it is due to a character making a reference that users may not understand. These are typically memes or niche internet inventions. By explaining these to the reader, it gives the audience a better understanding of the group’s dynamics and their sense of humor. It also illustrates how long they’ve been friends as they have inside jokes and discuss moments that have happened before the events of the story.
Overall, I thought the way “Forever” explores its story with icons and symbols to be unique. It gives the readers aspects to relate to and allows them to get enveloped into the story. To me, this shows how you can mix timely videos and sounds with a plot to create a piece that fits into a specific point in history.View Post
I had a lot of fun making this video and I hope everyone enjoys it!
I would consider all three of these works to be stories. Although some are more linear than others, there is a plotline present in each one that is given to the audience in a unique way. I found “My Boyfriend Came Back from the War” to be the most confusing as the way it is presented requires the reader to deeply consider each line. I thought the imagery chosen for it, as well as the boxed format for most of the text, highlighted this element. While it was a little convoluted, I also found that this was part of what made the story engaging. “How to Rob a Bank” uses its format and music to draw you in quickly, although I had a few technical issues at the beginning that could drive casual users away. Out of the three, “With Those We Love Alive” has the strongest connection to the choose your own adventure genre. The layout and variety of options feels exactly like what an interactive story would have.
Each of the three stories contain a world for the reader to explore, but none of them do it the same way. “My Boyfriend Came Back from the War” and “With Those We Love Alive” represent this the most, as their storytelling is fragmented and requires the reader to actively investigate in order to discover each piece that, in the end, creates a picture. “How to Rob a Bank” follows a more linear process that audiences are more familiar with, but still combines it with digital mediums to provide a unique experience.
Altogether, I found these stories to be a great illustration of what you can do with imagination on the web. Between Twine and coding, there are a lot of ways to create a story that is unique and captivating to an audience. Regardless of the presentation, I would say that all three of these projects have interesting storylines with immense thought put behind them.View Post
Attached is my short day in the life video!View Post
This piece revolves around the relationship between my sister and I and the way it changed over time. My sister and I communicated frequently over text, so all the dialogue came from our real conversations. I created simple diagrams to communicate our backgrounds and relationship in a way that couldn’t be expressed in text. If I expand this to be my final project, I’d add more depth with extra conversations and make it a blend of images, video, and text.View Post
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” by Ambrose Pierce, follows the tale of a man that is about to be hanged but miraculously escapes death, or so he thinks. I thought both the short story and the film were well-done and accentuated different aspects of the plot. The written version includes many added details that help us get into the mind of the main character. An example of this is when he is drowning after the rope breaks. There is a lengthy paragraph dedicated to his thoughts and feelings as he tries to free himself and get to the surface. Adding these little moments gives us a better sense of who he is and what he’s feeling in these intense sequences. While in the film we witness this event unfold, we have no idea what he’s thinking and therefore lose that perspective.
With that said, the movie has its own elements that provide a unique take on the story. The imagery and sounds largely tell the tale as there is little to no dialogue. I think these add to the tension, particularly when he is fleeing and you can hear the guns and cannons going off around him. You never know if he is actually going to make it and pairing this unknown with the loud sounds of gunfire elevates the suspense. The film also gives us sympathy for the man through its music and camera angles. Even though we don’t know what he’s thinking, the camera focuses on him enough for us to see his emotions. I thought the song that was used several times also played a role in making him feel more human and allowed us to grieve over his circumstances. Overall, I enjoyed both versions of this story and it was interesting to see what aspects each medium chose to focus on.View Post
The photos are of my dog, Bandit, receiving a toy with the goal of destroying it. He is ultimately successful and celebrates by taking a nap. I tried to take the pictures at different angles and zoomed into one picture, the reminders of the alligator, for effect. Similar to what McCloud describes in “Understanding Comics,” I wanted the pictures to capture different feelings, such as humor when seeing him tear up the stuffed animal or satisfaction when you see that it has been destroyed. The images are put together subject by subject to illustrate how the story unfolds chronologically. Overall, I enjoyed making this piece as I feel it allowed me to experiment with the different methods of creating a visual story.
5 Story Summaries
- Classic Aristotelian 3-part structure
A teenage boy wakes up in a basement with no memory of how he got there. He quickly realizes that he is trapped inside and must find a way out. He encounters a mysterious entity that is trapping him inside and, after many failures, devises a plan to kill the monster. By the end, he discovers more about himself, for better or worse. The story would have thriller and horror elements with a twist at the end. The characters would be morally gray and forced to make difficult decisions. I think it would translate well to different kinds of digital storytelling with a few tweaks to the plotline.
- Kishotenketsu 4-part structure.
A lighthearted romance between two ghosts that meet each other in a library that they both haunt. They encounter a few issues, such as trying to scare the librarians and students, but they learn how to work together to accomplish their goals. Over time, they fall in love and become a couple. The story has a spooky atmosphere while still being warm. I would want the plot to be light on conflict and to mostly focus on the relationship between the two main characters. Their attempts at becoming good ghosts would also allow for personal growth. I think this fits best with the 4-part structure as it has a longer development period than that of my other story ideas.
- A story in an episodic structure.
A young transgender woman on her deathbed looks back on some of her key memories, structured as different episodes of her life. They span different time periods but contain similar themes. I want this to be a thoughtful exploration of time and death, but largely being a character study. I also want to illustrate how real world events impact the lives of marginalized communities. By using an episodic structure for this story, I can find unique ways to structure my mini arcs so that the plot becomes a full circle. In this way, seemingly unconnected pieces clearly form a picture by the end. I think this could be an interesting way of creating a character study.
- A story in a surrealist or fantastic mode
A young man living alone in an apartment discovers that a ghost is haunting his apartment complex and targeting his neighbors. He has to overcome his fears in order to save them and himself. He ultimately succeeds, but at a high cost. I want this story to have a lot of mysterious elements to it and possibly a twist. Along with this, I’m hoping to build strong characters that give the storyline an emotional core. By using this idea, I could practice more with horror, which I haven’t explored too much. Creating this digitally would also grant me additional ways to explore the plot and be more creative.
- Personal Anecdote
An examination of my relationship with my oldest sister and how we went from being best friends to strangers. I would want this story to focus on specific memories that span several years to indicate how things changed. My sister and I communicated frequently over text, so I want the majority of the dialogue to be from these conversations to add a greater sense of realism. Building off of this, I would want the story to be structured like a text messaging system with a few breaks for other illustrations. I think this would make my story more unique and give it a compelling structure. I also want to make sure that the focus is fairly narrow so I can dig deeper into the concept and the themes that arise from it.View Post
Visual Narrative I
“Understanding Comics,” by Scott McCloud, digs deep into the origins of comics and how they can be defined and manipulated to create extraordinary stories. Comics are an excellent way of exploring visual arts because they rely on a blend of pictures and text in order to tell the tale. After reading about how comics create the effects that they do, there are a few key takeaways that I will apply when creating my diagrammatic writing piece.
One part that stuck out to me was when McCloud describes how “less is more” and that finding a balance between subtracting and adding content is key. I believe this fits well with all types of storytelling because knowing when to allow your audience to infer information can elevate their experience. Especially in genres like horror, granting the reader the ability to let their mind generate some of the imagery can be effective. In terms of the diagrammatic writing assignment, I think it shows how using intentional language in a simple sentence can have more depth than a descriptive paragraph.
Another piece of this book that I took note of was when McCloud talks about gutters and how the space in between comic book panels tells its own story. To me, this is beneficial when considering how I want to tackle my diagrammatic story. Knowing that my tale will be told through slides, there will be empty space around the content. When deciding how I want to structure my story, I want to take these gutters into consideration. Leaving spaces blank intentionally could, at times, leave readers with a better sense of the story than if I had a slide full of content. I believe this fits well with the idea of “less is more” as well, since having space left open is a minimalist approach to writing.
By combining these two concepts from McCloud’s book, I think I will be able to create a story that is intentional with every slide. I want to ensure that every piece is strategically placed and has its own meaning. McCloud’s guide to comics also shows how this medium has a lot of crossover with other kinds of writing and, as such, uses similar rules to create a strong piece. I think learning from other visual arts is an incredibly helpful way of improving your own writing style. Overall, I’m excited to take these ideas and apply them to my diagrammatic story as I think it will strengthen the storytelling.View Post
The short story “Great Rock n’Roll Pauses,” by Johanna Drucker, follows a young family living near a desert and the struggles they face in their relationships. Through each slide, we’re given different details about each family member and the ways they feel about one another. The conflict revolves around the son, who has a special interest in the pauses in songs. While the family supports this, the father struggles to find it useful and snaps at the son, causing him to cry. The mother comforts him, while his dad, embarrassed, goes on a walk with their daughter. In the end, the father learns how to embrace his son’s quirks and illustrates this by creating graphs of different pauses in songs.
The changes the characters go through are internal, particularly the father. He learns how to accept his son the way he is and to encourage the different hobbies he enjoys. The diagrammatic structure of the story allows for exploration of its plot and characters in a unique way. Facts and quirks about each person are revealed through small blocks of text that allow the reader to envision the character without long, detailed paragraphs. Each piece of information and where it is placed feels intentional. I think this is a benefit of diagrammatic writing that shines through in this piece. You can choose specific, vivid pieces of detail that paint a picture for the reader and organize it in a way that quickly tells you about a character or storyline.
A few ideas from this piece that inspired me was the way that the information is laid out to tell you something about a character. One example of this is on the slides about the mother’s annoying habits, clearly written by the daughter. The numbers attached to them, such as bad habit #48, tell the reader a lot while saying little. We can see from this that the daughter is critical of their mother and is often irritated by some of the little things that they do, even if they’re not important. Aspects like these make each person multi-faceted in just a few words. Overall, I found the story to be a fascinating exercise in the different ways that you can structure a plot and how that influences the tone and emotions it delivers.View Post
One short film that caught my attention was “She and Her Cat” by Makoto Shinkai. The movie follows the relationship between a woman and her cat from the animal’s perspective. Given its four minute run time, the story is simple but is explored in a unique fashion. We’re only given access to the cat’s thoughts and perceptions of what occurs around him. The limited scope makes exploring the narrative interesting as we’re never given all the details on the conflict that unfolds. An example of this is when the girl receives a phone call and becomes upset afterward. We don’t quite know what the subject of the conversation was or what exactly causes her to feel sad. We are only privy to the cat’s perspective on the event. In a way, this reminds me of Fargo as it takes a similar approach of deliberately leaving out information. It only includes what we need to know in order for the plot to make sense. For this short, I felt as though the creator left out the cause of the woman’s emotions because they don’t necessarily relate to the overarching storyline. In the end, the plot explores the relationship between the owner and her pet, so the backstory doesn’t feel needed. All that matters is the cat’s reaction to the woman’s feelings, not what actually happened to her.
I thought the events that led up to this moment were also well-placed. The relationship between the two cats at the beginning establishes how the main animal has feelings for their owner and is solely focused on that. By placing this early in the video, we know why the owner’s reactions to events matter so much to the cat. The film avoids the Aristotelian plot structure by building its outline around their relationship rather than a central conflict. Both the cat and the woman reach their own conclusions about life by the end of the video, which gives the movie its ending. Overall, I thought the film was a cute, wholesome way of exploring the relationship between humans and animals while illustrating how not every story should be told the same way.View Post
My name is Brayden. I am a DTC major who is graduating this semester! I am taking this class because I love storytelling and thought that this would be an enjoyable elective. My favorite genres are horror, thriller, fantasy, and some sci-fi, but I enjoy dabbling in everything. I love character studies and stories that focus more on internal struggles. While I prefer these elements, if the story is well-written and holds my attention, I’ll gladly give it a chance.
Some of my favorite mediums for storytelling are books, films, and video games. I love exploring the different ways in which these three platforms can tell an impactful story. When creating my own stories, I prefer writing darker pieces that explore the mindsets of the characters and how it affects their current situation.
I’m excited to explore digital storytelling and see what creative projects I can create within our future projects. I’m also looking forward to seeing what everyone else creates!View Post
The movie “Fargo” follows Jerry Lundegaard as he attempts to obtain money from his father-in-law by hiring criminals to kidnap his wife and demand a ransom. His seemingly simple plan quickly turns to disaster, resulting in the murders of numerous people. The plotline of Fargo is only moved forward by the actions of the different characters. Jerry’s half-baked attempt at exhorting money from his father-in-law sets the rest of the story in motion, motivating others to make mistakes that continue the line of tragedy. Aristotle speaks on this notion in his book, “Poetics,” in which he discusses how tragedy is built in poetry. He describes how the most important function of a tragedy is the plot, as it is “the soul of a tragedy…the most beautiful colors, laid on confusingly, will not give as much pleasure as the chalk outline of a portrait.”
Along with this, Aristotle explains how a strong plot is formed and what it can achieve for a tragedy. “A well constructed plot should, therefore, be single in its issue, rather than double as some maintain.” He goes on to explain that the overarching conflict in a tragedy should come from a character’s actions rather than an outside source. Fargo executes Aristotle’s argument well. Everything that occurs in Fargo is a direct result of Jerry’s first major decision: hiring criminals to kidnap his wife. From there, a series of errors occurs that brings about the tragedies presented to us.
Unraveling the plot this way brings more than creating conflict. It also allows the viewer to understand the motivations and struggles of each character. While we don’t know why Jerry needs the money, we can see that he is a desperate man that’s willing to bend morals to achieve his goals. Inevitably, almost every character makes an angry or murderous decision that leads to their demise, all of which directly correlates to Jerry’s first choice. Each of these demonstrates a different side to the characters. While both criminals are morally gray, we can see through the way they deal with the situation how their perspectives differ. One is more emotional and hasty, while the other is methodical and mostly numb. Though each character’s viewpoint is different, none of them react in a way that doesn’t align with their established personality or what one could expect from a person realistically. Aristotle explains that this is key to a good tragedy, stating that “character must be true to life: or this is a distinct thing from goodness and propriety.”
Exploring Fargo’s plot through the lens of Aristotle’s Poetics shows how well-written tragedies can be created. Having the storyline unfold through the action of one central character allows for the motivations and personalities of others to be explored naturally. In this way, nothing feels forced or uncharacteristic. Rather, characters are responding to the actions of someone else and have to make plays of their own, which are chosen based on their unique perspectives.View Post