Detail from the annotated video player for "An Unquiet Landscape: the American West’s New Energy Frontier"
By GEOFF McGHEE
Video is a powerful medium, but one that brings its own constraints. A complex and nuanced story can be hard to tell even in a 30 minute documentary. How do you reach a broad audience that might not have a deep grounding in the topic, while still providing substance to viewers who want to go deeper? It's a question that comes up constantly in the script-writing stage, and anyone who's done documentary work knows that plenty of good reporting and footage end up on the proverbial cutting room floor.
Yet using the web as a primary distribution platform poses an important question: doesn't the linked and nonlinear nature of the Internet give usthe opportunity to create an experience that can serve the casual viewer as well as the power user? Well, yes and no – traditionally we've used chapterization, podcasts and other tactics to provide more entry points into long video narratives. But in the end they remain primarily a box with a play button and not much more.
For the Rural West energy video, we opted to use Popcorn.js to add annotation capability to our video. The interface you see at work allows for the following functionalities:
We have posted the source code on GitHub for downloading or forking (creating a new source code repository based on the original).
It's early yet, and we haven't had time yet to provide documentation. If you'd like to sign up to hear from us when we've added documentation, instructions and refined the code, please add your name to the form below.
And if you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to contact me at Geoff (dot) McGhee (at) Stanford.edu.
Last modified Wed, 2 May, 2012 at 11:51