Mac Demarco: Mannish Boy

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I am a huge Mac Demarco fan. In my opinion, he is the best musician of our generation. So, I may be a little biased in my critique of this project but I think that it is very cool to look at and is easy enough to navigate.

The entirety of the piece is basically a feature/profile of Mac Demarco, which a lot of other music sites have done on this guy. But, Pitchfork upped the ante, so to say, and added some very cool animated graphics and photos that have certain elements that are animated while the whole of the picture is a frozen shot.

As you scroll down the page, new pictures and text emerge as the previous text and images fade away. Each “page” is filled with bold, easy to read text on one side and one of these animated still photos on the other side.

Both the pictures and text take up a large amount of space on the page leaving little empty space, but they aren’t so overwhelming that you become distracted between looking at the graphics and reading the text.

One of the pages is especially cool and features a pull quote from the story with an interesting border and, on the right side of the page, a sort of “GIF” showing Demarco eating out of a bag of chips or something.

I’m not entirely sure what these animated still photos are called (or whether or not there is a technical term for them) but they are really fun to watch and try to wrap your head around without taking away from the intimacy of the story.

I think alternating pages filled large text and photos with pages only featuring photos and a smaller pull quote helps break up the story and emphasize certain quotes or angles of the story the author wants you to ponder, or get out of the story.

Overall, I think this is an awesome way to utilize multimedia to tell a story and I once I find out what the hell these animated still photos are I am going to do everything in my power to learn how to create them.

Here is a link to the story…http://pitchfork.com/features/cover-story/reader/mac-demarco/

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Invisible Child: Dasani’s Homeless Life

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Invisible Child: Dasani’s Homeless Life was a project done by Andrea Elliott and Ruth Fremson in The New York Times. There have never been as many homeless youth in New York as now since the Great Depression. This follows one girl through the life of being a homeless child in New York.

I think this was extremely easy to navigate and follow along. The pictures were incredible and broke up a long text story very nicely. There were also a couple of stories, which I liked. This allowed the reader to have a greater understanding of everything going on. With only one or two stories the audience might not have all the information. Also, if they had put all the information into one story it could be distracting and confusing.

But there were things I thought could be improved. The captions were displayed differently throughout the page and I felt like that was slightly confusing. I like a more uniform look and this was distracting. Also, I thought there were a few things that could’ve been added. There was no multi-media other than pictures. A video could’ve added a more visually appealing aspect and broken up a long series of pictures. Also, there were a lot of facts and an info graphic explaining some of these would’ve been a nice way to convey these numbers to readers.

Overall, this was a nice piece and explained a series problem in New York. But I think with a few extra additions it could’ve been a wonderful multi-media series.

See the story here: http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/invisible-child/#/?chapt=1

Ebola Outbreak by New York Times

This article is from the New York Times on the Ebola outbreak in Africa. The site has covered many stories on this subject, so it’s nice that they have links within the article that can provide more information and access to other articles without having to search for them.  The navigation is simple. The article is long form and they have included a lot of other multimedia elements to tell the story. There are a few advertisements listed only the side as you scroll down, so it’s obvious the site is very commercial.

One of the main things that drew me to this piece was the use of other elements to tell this story besides a text piece. There is a slide show at the beginning of the article as well as multiple infographics and maps. One thing that is also nice is the videos and audio components embedded with the article because it gives the users multiple ways to experience the story in one place.

It also includes other links and articles to different areas in Africa so you can read about the news in country by region. I really enjoyed being able to move from news on Liberia to Sierra Leone without having to go back and look it up.

The page also makes it easy to know what others are saying about the topic and join the conversation.  The have comment sections listed to each section of the article. Overall I think the layout was done really well. Even though there were a lot of different elements on the page,it didn’t slow down the site or make it difficult to navigate. Also like I said, it’s very important on the Ebola outbreak and if someone wasn’t aware of the situation, it would be very helpful.

 

The Serengeti Lion

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National Geographic created this project to bring awareness to lions’ decline in population. Lions have disappeared from 80 percent of their African range. All of the footage was shot over about two years. The website is easy to use, unless you have a bad connection to internet. 

The site uses videos of the lions, commentaries by the photographers, some text, and still images to tell the story. You use your cursor or arrow buttons to navigate through the site. The design is simple, but set up so you feel like you’re standing right in front of the lions. The site is easy to use for almost anyone. 

I love this way of using multiple platforms to tell a story. It makes it much more stimulating then just reading a bunch of text. 

Here’s a link: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/serengeti-lion/index.html#/awakening

Blog One: One by one, Missouri’s black towns disappear – Al Jazeera

A recent Mizzou graduate wrote this piece on Black towns in our home state of Missouri and how they have been disproportionately disenfranchised. The piece is an interactive story featuring pictures, audio and external supporting links. 

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I absolutely love this piece. The author truly captures the devastation, hurt and hope of the people in these defunct towns. HIs language and description makes the reader feel as if they are right there in the Pinhook, Pennytown and Kinloch. 

Not only do I love the content, I love the format. This piece is written in long form. There are five chapters which include an introduction, a chapter about each of the three towns and a conclusion bringing all of the stories together. While this story isn’t extremely interactive like the ones we’ve read in class, it definitely brings in components that make it a journey to navigate. I love the fact that the author brings in external elements to support his facts. He links the reader to stories printed during that time so we can see what America was reading when these tragedies occurred. This is more than just a quick read. It makes you want to learn more about these towns and those like it around the nation. 

I wish the author would have included more pictures and more interviews. Nothing compares to hearing the voice of the people effected and seeing their faces. I would have liked to see an interactive video or tour of the defunct towns as well.

Overall, I enjoyed this piece. I believe the author used great storytelling methods and effective multimedia to create a true experience. 

 

Blog 1: Lobotomy For World War Ⅱ Veterans: Psychiatric Care by U.S. Government – WSJ.com

By Zhao, Hong

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The Wall Street Journal made a multimedia project on lobotomy for veterans from the Second World War. The project includes three parts, a documentary and a case study. And they tell stories through pictures, text, short videos and infographics.
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On the ride side of the text list related document files, pictures or videos. The topic of the project is The Lobotomy Files and expanded stories behind those files. The thumbnails give more hint than just a hyperlink. When readers click a file, it actually unfold the document paper naturally inserted into the content. Thus, it won’t disorient readers to somewhere else, even better than “Open link in a new window/tab.” And at the bottom of part 1 and part 2, a navigation bar is adopted to show the highlights of the documents.
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Mostly used are historical pictures. In the second part, an infographic illustrates the lobotomy surgery. Except videos and pictures taken in recent period, the whole project come in mostly the color of muddy yellow, brown and gray, including the background color of the documents and the draft-looking graphic, setting up a retro atmosphere.

For the website navigation, it only needs to scroll down to read, corresponding to readers’ reading habit. At the first page of each story, there is a prompt “scroll” on the bottom of the picture. Otherwise, people might be confused. There is an option bar on the top to jump to other parts. There are picture series in each story. Readers need to scroll down to transfer to caption and then another picture. Unfortunately, readers can only scroll to go back or forward. It might be better if the four points on the right can work as a link to each picture.

Overall, the project integrates pictures, videos, graphics with text to tell the stories, and the way document files appear is effective and timely.

Here is the link to the project: http://projects.wsj.com/lobotomyfiles/

Blog One: Glitter in the Dark by Pitchfork

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By Yuting Jiang

This cover story of Pitchfork is very engaging and touching for its great unity between content and design. The design presents the story naturally and elegantly. Comparing to many other online storytelling projects which have lots of cool interactive elements to present information and visuals, this one is particularly simple but very beautiful. I love this piece for I always believe the golden rule of design- less is more. 

It’s basically a profile story of a musician, so the simple design style just matches with the content. It opens with an eye-catching whole-screen portrait of the artist with the title on the left. Noticeably, the whole design is black and white, which helps it to reach a great sense of unity and build an artistic atmosphere as well. Moreover, the web designer avoids the monotony by interchangeably using black and white as the background color and having the pictures of the musician on different sides of the screen with different sizes. This also forms contrast in design. Also, the fonts of the title and quotes are specifically well chosen and the use of  quotes as an individual page to interrupt the story flow is actually smart. It gives both readers’ eyes and minds a rest. 

What amazes me the most about this piece is its multimedia part- the moving pictures with the musician’s poses. It’s also very simple but beautiful. While scrolling down, the pose of the musician changes and all together they become like a piece of dance on the screen. Noticeably , for online storytelling, readers used to scroll down pages very quickly at first just to look through. Then if the content/design engages them, they go back and read more carefully. One thing about this one is when users looking through it very quickly, the poses of the musician flow more smoothly and makes the design even cooler to look at.

Although comparing to others, this one might not be very fancy technically , it does have sound to go with the moving poses. The music here kind of dissolves into the musician’s dance as well as the story. Again, simple and harmonious.

Navigation is easy as well. The story unfolds as scrolling down and there are “return to beginning” and “back to homepage” bottoms at the end of the story, which easily direct readers to places they might want to go. 

In a nutshell, this design is clean, coherent and beautifully blended with different media elements.