Hot Docs Industry Conference: The Tablet Strategies Panel

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During the Hot Docs Industry Conference, Ramona joined the NBCUniversal’s John Canning, NFB’s Vincent McCurley and Mickael Brock (creator of Astronaut Magazine for the iPad) to discuss tablet documentaries and strategies for the future of storytelling.

The venue was packed for a lively conversation on the unique challenges and opportunities that this new platforms presents.

After each producer shared samples of their most recent projects, they dove into conversation about schedules, planning, production, and audience, before taking questions from the audience. Here are some of the highlights:

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How are audience habits changing?

Tablet sales are going to outpace PC sales by 2015, and content must move in that direction, to account for new features and new ways of interacting with stories and media. Layered stories lend themselves to interactive storytelling, whereby the viewer has more choice. They can interact, but don’t have to. And,  if they want to, those layers add richness to the narrative experience.

How is the production process different from that of a film?

In some ways, the production process isn’t that different from making a classical documentary. But in other ways, it’s a completely different beast. An interactive project might take four months — or four years, and requires the involvement of designers, developers and user experience teams from the very beginning of development. The best projects are concieved as digital or interactive experiences. Everyone on the panel agreed that they share an interactive process: get a prototype made early that people can play with, then add the refinement and the attention to quality and detail.

How do you get started in the industry?

When it come to getting started in the industry or making your first interactive documentary, the panelists had similar advice: see what is out there, learn and be inspired by great design and great storytelling. Then go out there and make something great! The panelists also advised to seek out collaborators who have different skills.  Technologists and developers will help you think about your story in a new way. Once you have your team, start to play. Be passionate. And prototype early! Build something that works before building the full project, and refine and revise the idea, the story, and the content, as you go, and as you test.

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Photos by Adriano Trapani, courtesy of Hot Docs.