inside the website - DOCspace by wuzhenguang


									                                    new Media
                                                                                                         “Inside	the	Haiti	Earthquake”	is	a	
                                                                                                         first-person	simulation	based	on	
                                                                                                         documentary	footage	from	Haiti	and	
                                                 Clicking	on	an	arrow	shows	                             real-life-decision	scenarios.
                                                 the	viewer	the	epicentre	of	the	
                                                 earthquake	that	struck	on	Jan.	12,	
                                                 2010,	and	the	timing	and	strength	
                                                 of	the	aftershocks.

                                                                                                           The	website	follows	individual	
                                                                                                           members	of	a	Red	Cross	team	
                                                                                                           as	they	assess	post-quake	
                                                                                                           damage	and	coordinate	the	
                                                                                                           supply	of	life-saving	water,	
                                                                                                           health	care,	shelter	and	food.

In	the	“Video	Map”	section	there	
are	videos	that	show	key	moments	

                                    inside the website
from	the	earthquake’s	aftermath	
as	they	unfolded	around	Port-au-

                                    Making media to accompany Inside Disaster

                                      ive hours after a massive earthquake             year negotiating unprecedented access to the
                                      devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010, the        international red Cross’s Field Assessment and
                                      e-mail arrived in my inbox. The subject          Coordination Teams (FACT), elite disaster man-
                               line was short and to the point: “We’re going.”         agers drawn from more than 70 countries with
                                  This was day one of Inside Disaster, an ambi-        experience in relief, logistics, health, sanitation
                               tious multi-platform documentary project about          and more.
                               humanitarian relief in disaster zones. As the proj-        With producers pTV productions and lead
                                        ect’s interactive producer, my job was to      broadcaster TVO on board, the film had been
By K at i e           M c K e n n a launch the Inside Disaster website and             green-lit in september 2009, with the under-
                                        prepare for incoming reports from Haiti        standing that the documentary and Web crew
                               from our Web field director, nicolas Jolliet, who       would be following the red Cross FACT on their
                               would be working alongside the documentary              next major natural disaster response. On January
                               crew.                                                   12th, after four months of waiting, planning and
                                  The documentary’s director and producer,             false alarms, that day had arrived.
                               nadine pequeneza, had spent more than a                    Launching the Haiti blog was the first big

                                                                                              	            spring 2011   | point of view 81	 15
                                                                                                     From the beginning, i’ve been enthusi-
                                                                                                 astic about the Web’s potential for docu-
                                                                                                 mentary filmmakers: reaching previously
                                                                                                 untouched audiences, building an online
                                                                                                 community around projects, finding inno-
                                                                                                 vative uses for the 99 per cent of footage
                                                                                                 that never make it into the film, collaborat-
                                                                                                 ing and interacting with the audience in
                                                                                                 new and interesting ways.
                                                                                                     But when i was approached by pTV
                                                                                                 production’s Andrea nemtin to lead the
                                                                                                 interactive production of Inside Disaster, i
                                                                                                 hesitated. i thought the film sounded fas-
                                                                                                 cinating. i was dying to test the project’s
                                                                                                 online potential. But i had no experience
                                                                                                 leading a project of this size, scope and
                                                                                                 budget. And i’d be a fraud to act like i did.
                                                                                                     in the end, though, the content and the
                                                                                                 opportunity were too good to pass up. so i
                                                                                                 decided to jump in feet first and do what
                                                                                                 all good fraudsters do: fake it till you make
                                                                                                 it. needless to say, i learned a lot along the
       Paul	Adlaf	(location	sound	           step in creating the interactive component          way.
       operator)	and	Nadine	Pequeneza	       of Inside Disaster, which would eventu-
       (director,	writer	and	producer)	on	   ally include a wide-ranging educational             Just like in traditional media produc-
       location	in	Haiti                     website about humanitarian work and the             tion, every interactive project needs a Big
                                             earthquake, as well as a first-person simu-         idea to get it off the ground. With Inside
                                             lation that would use documentary footage           Disaster, i had to come up with ours before
                                             to allow users to “experience” the disaster’s       i knew when or where the film would actu-
                                             aftermath from the point of view of a jour-         ally take place. so i focused on the three
                                             nalist, survivor or aid worker.                     things i was sure of in those early days.
                                                 For me, it would become the opportu-                i knew that humanitarianism was a hot
                                             nity of a lifetime, combining my love of            topic in news, schools and popular culture
                                             research, storytelling, global issues, tech-        and that this, in turn, had created a grow-
                                             nology, team-building and social activism.          ing community of students, job seekers and
                                             By the time it launched, the Inside Disaster        donors who were keenly interested in it.
                                             interactive would involve more than 30                  secondly, i knew it was more impor-
                                             collaborators from Canada and Haiti, cost           tant for me to use technologies that would
                                             close to half a million dollars and win mul-        make it easy for users to find and share our
                                             tiple educational and gaming awards.                content online than to be technologically
                                                 But that wouldn’t happen for a long,            innovative. so i didn’t want to distribute
                                             long time. On January 12, 2010, i was as            our videos through “our own version of
                                             close as you could come to having no idea           YouTube.” i wanted to use YouTube.
                                             what i was doing.                                       Finally, i knew that the natural disaster
                                                                                                 we’d be filming, whenever and wherever
                                             i n C a na d i a n m e d i a p r o d u c t i o n,   it might take place, would only be a major
                                             interactive storytelling is the shiny new           news story and generate interest online for
                                             kid in town. Funders lavish attention and           a short period of time.
                                             money on it, traditional media produc-                  This last realization led me to the
                                             ers eye it with interest and suspicion, and         uncomfortable conclusion that our Web
                                             everyone is covertly googling to find out           project could be relevant or perfect, but
                                             just what exactly “interactive,” “multi-plat-       it couldn’t be both. The educational con-
                                             form,” “mobile app” and “sEO” mean, let             tent that i wanted for the site would take
                                             alone mean to their work.                           months of research and production to cre-
                                                Although my background is in tradi-              ate. But the disaster we were “waiting” for
                                             tional documentary production, i began              could occur any day. should we launch fast,
                                             shifting into the world of online video and         or wait and be better?
                                             communications in 2005, creating advo-                  in the end, we realized it was crazy to
                                             cacy and political campaign videos, lead-           send a Web producer to the field during
                                             ing outreach campaigns for non-profits and          one of the biggest news stories of the year,
                                             soaking up the technological “geek-speak”           but not post and share that material until
                                             of my new colleagues as fast as i could.            months after the fact. rather than choose

	 16   point of view 81	|	spring 2011
       between relevance and research, i decided        job. i’d never heard of nico Jolliet, but the
       we’d do both and launch the Inside Disaster      swiss-born shooter/director/musician did
       website in two phases.                           appear to have everything we were look-
                                                        ing for: he had lived and made films all
       The first phase was a quick-and-cheap            over the world, was a prolific writer, spoke
       Wordpress blog that would launch the same        three languages and loved shooting, editing
       day that the disaster occurred. Our plan         and working with local musicians to create
       was to use it as a platform to share photos,     original soundtracks. He was OK with the
       footage and reports from the disaster zone,      pay and ready to drop everything as soon
       while raising awareness about the upcom-         as the call came.
       ing documentary series. On the outreach             We hired nico and never looked back:
       level, our goal was to develop a mailing list    he would ultimately fill about eight key
       and a community around the site, make            roles throughout both the first and sec-
       connections with other like-minded sites         ond phases of the project, including co-
       and establish our presence on Facebook,          directing, editing, and creating an original
       YouTube, Flickr and Twitter.                     soundtrack for our first-person simulation,
           The second phase would begin when            Inside the Haiti Earthquake.                    Nico	Jolliet	(Web	field	producer)	
       the crew returned home with hundreds of             From there on, the rest of the project       on	location	in	Haiti
       hours of Web and documentary footage.            team began coming together. Finding free-
       We wanted to combine this content with           lancers who were keen to work on the
       top-tier academic research to create a big-      project wasn’t difficult because we were
       picture, educational look at the humanitar-      offering a rare opportunity in today’s media
       ian response to the disaster.                    landscape: the chance to work with com-
           This part of the project would also          pelling, meaningful content that would
       include detailed information about human-        reach a global audience.
       itarian work—the history of the field, the          One of my first steps in the hiring pro-
       types of jobs available and the skills they      cess was to create an advisory board for the
       required, as well as a first-person “simula-     project, a mix of academics, tech thought
       tion” that would allow users to make deci-       leaders and humanitarian workers. Our
       sions from the perspective of an aid worker,     advisory board, composed of people i
       survivor or journalist on the ground.            deeply admired, vetted content as we pro-
           Unlike its precursor, the phase ii con-      duced it and connected me with some of
       tent wouldn’t have an “expiry date”: we          the project’s key talent.
       were going to stack it with tools, resources        My goal in hiring was to be surrounded
       and perspectives that would be useful long       by an experienced, tech-savvy team to bal-
       after media and public interest in the initial   ance my own lack of knowledge. At the
       disaster had receded.                            same time, i had a strong creative and
           Together, these two phases made up           technical vision for the project. i needed
       the Big idea we pitched to the funders:          collaborators who would be able to tell
       combining documentary photo and video            me whether these ideas were feasible, then
       with top-tier academic research to cre-          refine them and make them their own.
       ate the definitive interactive resource on          For the educational website, i found
       humanitarian aid today, and how it would         those collaborators in spencer saunders and
       be applied after the Haiti earthquake.           Kirk Clyne, young veterans of the Toronto
           We knew what we wanted to create. But        interactive scene who had established
       first, we had to find the team to do it.         themselves with innovative approaches to
                                                        marketing and education projects. i clicked
       My first and most important job was              with them immediately because we were
       finding the Web field producer, who would        enthusiastic about the same things: pri-
       travel with the crew to the disaster zone        oritizing story over technology, making it
       but ultimately work independently from           easy to search and share content across the
       them on the ground. This was no simple           Web, using Flash technology sparingly and
       task: we needed someone who was com-             integrating excerpts from the documentary
       fortable shooting, taking photos, recording      material throughout the site.
       sound, writing, editing and troubleshooting         The team was rounded out by Michael
       tech issues in an unpredictable post-disas-      gibson, a “serious game” expert who came
       ter environment. The candidate would also        on board early as the writer and co-director
       need to speak multiple languages. And get        of what would become the first-person sim-
       along with the crew. And be ready to drop        ulation. Judging by Michael’s experience, i
       everything to depart on a moment’s notice.       knew he was the one to lead what seemed
          “i am your man!” came the enthusiastic        like an impossible task: use footage and sto-
       e-mail reply shortly after we posted the         ries from Haiti to create a Rashomon-style

	 18   point of view 81	|	spring 2011
                             script that would allow users to experience      the hundreds of photos he’d taken that day.
                             the aftermath of the disaster from three         Then, sitting on the roof of the Canadian
                             conflicting points of view: that of a journal-   Embassy, he’d wait to catch a passing sat-
                             ist, a survivor or an aid worker.                ellite connection that would allow him to
                                 Over the following months, our team          upload the material. sometimes, this would
                             expanded into a talented motley crew of          take until 1 or 2 in the morning.
                             mid-career and established programmers,              On my end, i’d be waiting for that ‘ping’
                             designers, writers, researchers, artists and     on the skype connection that told me that
                             interns, from both Canada and Haiti. Of the      nico was online and ready to transfer files
                             30-plus people who collaborated on the           to me. As the files downloaded, we’d fill
                             Inside Disaster interactive project, only two    each other in from our different worlds—
                             had ever worked together before.                 he’d tell me stories about how things were
                                 For a first-time interactive producer,       going on the ground, and i’d tell him about
                             this was a huge risk. But somehow, the           what was being reported in the news about
                             team clicked: the younger members of our         Haiti that day. Once the download was
                             team knew they were getting the chance           complete, nico’s work would be done for
                             to burnish their resumes with a high-pro-        the night, and mine would begin.
                             file project, and the more established ones          i’d read and edit nico’s blog while i
“i am your man!” came        were happy to be working with content            uploaded the new video to YouTube. Then,
the enthusiastic e-mail      that made them proud.                            i’d watermark each of the photos with the
                                                                              Inside Disaster UrL, geo-tag them and
reply shortly after we       January 15th. The crew had been in               upload them to Flickr. All of our photos
                             Haiti for 48 hours, and Web producer nico        and videos were carefully titled, tagged and
posted the job. i’d never    Jolliet had just turned up on skype for the      captioned with names, places and what was
heard of nico Jolliet, but   first time.
                                 [15/01/10 4:38:09 pM] nicolas Jolliet:
                                                                              depicted in them. i wanted to make sure
                                                                              anyone who was searching for this type
the swiss-born shooter/      Taking photographs while running, talking        of content would be able to find it. Finally,
                             and smoking, have you tried that?                i’d post the blog to the Inside Disaster site,
director/musician did            [15/01/10 4:38:09 pM] nicolas Jolliet:       with the Flickr images and YouTube video
appear to have everything    i am learning to smoke with the mask on          embedded throughout the text. The whole
                             my face.                                         process would take between one and two
we were looking for: he          [15/01/10 4:38:09 pM] nicolas Jolliet:       hours; throughout the crew’s month in
had lived and made films     You can’t smell the death, but it gets you
                                                                              Haiti, we repeated this cycle almost every
all over the world, was          Typing fast, he gave me a précis of their
                             experience so far: the crew was living off       The next day, we’d begin a process of
a prolific writer, spoke     crackers and cans of tuna. They were sleep-      outreach and distribution that would fill
three languages and          ing outside for safety, but aftershocks and
                             cries in the night meant that no one was
                                                                              most of my days and nights. The key to
                                                                              our approach was simple: we’d give away
loved shooting, editing      getting any rest.                                our content to anyone, under a Creative
                                 still, nico sounded good: the Creole he      Commons licence, as long as they’d agree
and working with local       learned over eight years living in st. Lucia     to attribute our work and use it for non-
musicians to create          was making it easy to talk to people. That
                             morning, he had met and hired a young
                                                                              commercial purposes.
                                                                                 To that end, i spent a lot of time getting
original soundtracks         guide, stanley, to help him navigate the city.   in touch with news agencies and blogs,
                             They had started their day at the Hospital       offering them our photo, video and written
                             general, surrounded by a football field of       content to repost on their sites. in doing
                             bodies decomposing in the sun. From there,       this, we went from being a website that
                             they crossed town to try to find stanley’s       didn’t exist on January 11th to having our
                             family, and nico filmed the reunion. On the      video content on The Huffington post, the
                             way back to the Canadian embassy, nico ,, global Voices, The
                             and stanley came upon a food distribu-           real news, nowpublic and every Canadian
                             tion site where the crowd was turning on         news network. Our photos were used on
                             a major humanitarian agency for handing          news sites across the Web, personal blogs
                             out spoiled nutritional crackers filled with     and even fundraising posters for Haiti—all
                             “bugs and worms.”                                with attribution and links back to us.
                                 it had been a long day in port-au-prince,       By giving our content away through
                             but nico’s work wasn’t even close to done.       other sites and platforms, we reached
                             He still had to write a cogent blog post         thousands of people that would never have
                             that would bring these stories to life, edit a   been exposed to our work if it had been
                             three-minute mini-documentary to accom-          “locked down” and only accessible through
                             pany the written piece and edit the best of      our website. in the first month, our 30-odd

                                                                               	            spring 2011   | point of view 81	 19
       Refugee	camp	St.	Thérèse,	Haiti
                                                                                                     fixer, a young university student named
                                                                                                     Emmanuel, became our weekly correspon-
                                                                                                     dent for the blog. in August, nico returned
                                                                                                     to Haiti for 10 days to record additional
                                                                                                     footage and original music and narration
                                                                                                     for the simulation.

                                                                                                     As i write this, it’s been almost three
                                                                                                     months since we launched the site to grati-
                                                                                                     fying acclaim. i no longer feel like a fake
                                                                                                     and a fraud in the interactive space, but i
                                                                                                     still have a lot to learn. And i hope some of
                                                                                                     what i picked up will be useful to others
                                                                                                     plodding along similar paths.
                                                                                                         Think about your audience. go to the
                                                                                                     places they go to—don’t wait for them to
                                                                                                     come to you.
                                                                                                         giving content away for free is bet-
                                                                                                     ter than hoarding it away and not making
                                                                                                     money off it, either.
                                                                                                         Lead a broad talent search and be open
                                                                                                     to applicants you’ve never heard of—new
       videos were viewed almost 20,000 times                                                        talents are emerging as quickly as technolo-
       on YouTube, our 150 Flickr photos over                                                        gies are advancing.
       4,000 times, and through targeted outreach                                                        Don’t be intimidated by geek-speak, but
       and advertising, we built a 4,000-strong       As an interactive                              don’t hire anyone who can’t explain their
       Facebook group.
          Even within the vast internet, strong,
                                                      producer, i rejoiced                           work to you in a language you understand.
                                                                                                     Learn the language, bit by bit, just like you
       meaningful content is rare. i knew that        —i truly believe that this                     learned about lenses, shooting and sound
       with nico’s work, we had it, and believed                                                     when you started in film.
       it was worth going the extra mile to make      kind of cross-platform                             Love and cherish your documentary col-
       sure people knew about it. When you’re
       making content with public funding, one
                                                      collaboration creates                          laborators. They are the only ones who
                                                                                                     know all the footage, all the stories; their
       of the best measures of success is show-       buzz, finds audiences                          work makes your work possible. set aside
       ing that the people who paid for it—and                                                       time and money for them.
       even more around the world—are actually        and expands the lifespan                           And in the end, remember: the success
       using it.                                      of great documentaries.                        or failure of an interactive project depends
                                                                                                     largely on the same elements as any other
       As soon as the crew arrived home, i            And with Inside Disaster,                      creative work; if you can make a film, you
       began to combine nadine pequeneza’s 100-
       plus hours of documentary footage with
                                                      all of these things have                       can do this. You need a Big idea that will
                                                                                                     inspire your funders. You need a great
       nico’s photo and video shot as the visual      happened                                       team. You need to know and think about
       basis of both the educational website and                                                     the tools you’re going to use to create the
       the first-person simulation. nadine was                                                       thing. And you need to get the word out
       incredibly generous in sharing both her                                                       about your work.
       time and the very best material she and her    truly believe that this kind of cross-plat-        Most of all, you need to be working
       crew had shot in Haiti. We’d pull her into     form collaboration creates buzz, finds audi-   on a project that inspires you and your
       meetings that would last for hours, asking,    ences and expands the lifespan of great        team. That certainly was the case with
       What different kinds of humanitarian jobs      documentaries. And with Inside Disaster,       Inside Disaster. it’s been gratifying to see
       do you show in your footage—can we use         all of these things have happened.             our content and stories spread through
       all of them for our Careers section? Can you       Throughout the spring and summer, the      educational, gaming and humanitarian
       give us your best footage of the Red Cross     project buzzed ahead. spencer and Kirk         communities around the world, and hear
       distributing water? Shelter kits? Medicine?    led the design and programming of the          people’s reactions to it. At the same time,
       Do you remember the time codes?                educational website, while Michael and         the depressing, almost insulting pace of
           As a documentary director, i had to        nico worked with pTV’s talented in-house       Haiti’s reconstruction puts the humanitar-
       wince: here i was, asking another film-        developer and designer to conceptualize        ian response, let alone our modest docu-
       maker to hand over huge portions of her        and build the first-person simulation. We      mentation of it, into real-world perspective.
       footage, including several climactic scenes,   had three researchers—one devoted to           All we can do is make our best work, with
       to re-edit and repurpose for the website—      Haiti’s history, politics and culture, one     documentaries and websites. pov
       which, by the way, would launch several        focused on humanitarian issues, and a
       months before the film’s TV premiere. But      visual researcher tasked with finding pub-     Katie McKenna	is	an	interactive	producer	
       as an interactive producer, i rejoiced—i       lic-domain images for the site. Our Haitian    and	documentary	filmmaker	based	in	Toronto.

	 20   point of view 81	|	spring 2011

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