Digital and Interactive Storytelling LAB MA
This course is currently subject to approval.
Digital and Interactive Storytelling LAB MA is a new and innovative course, designed for digital storytellers and shaped like a media LAB. This means that during the course you will be able to produce a wide range of digital-first work for multi-platform story formats. Your work will be underpinned with academic research, theories and expertise on mobile platforms, and digital interactive communication.
The course delivers industry-level professional expertise in visual communication from photography to cinema journalism, interactive narratives and apps for change.
You’ll be involved in creating content that extends beyond current ideas in multimedia and online productions – our aim is to advance storytelling. We recognise how competitive the job market currently is, therefore this Masters has been created to develop your skills and knowledge in a way that will enhance your career.
The Digital and Interactive Storytelling LAB MA prepares you for a range of industries, present and future, as entrepreneurial content creators, mobile and platform producers, cinema and video journalists, interactive factual narratives, social marketers, and project managers.
The content is structured around a knowledge of platforms and three major fields: cinema (video) journalism, photojournalism and interactive factual narratives, which are seamlessly knitted together into five modules.
Cinema Journalism builds upon videojournalism – a much-misunderstood term that in reality embraces multimedia and the creation of multiple genres of video production in different styles – from one-minute social-media docs, two-minute news, to lengthier docs. Cinema journalism combines a deep understanding of cinema cues and tropes to create compelling immersive content on fast-turn around times whilst mastering an array of tools from different lenses, cameras, drones and mobiles. You can find examples of student work David has previously supervised, as well as read about his work in journals, such as the The Documentary Handbook.
Photojournalism – the Image as storytelling aims to rethink the image as the digital form empowering storytelling as a digital practice. By engaging the quickly evolving world of photography and photojournalism within a digital-first approach, in the LAB you will explore new approaches to visual communication, and incorporate these into interactive platforms. Through a hands-on, experimental and practice-led approach, you will reconsider today’s shifting visual communication frameworks as they engage the practice and the grammar of image making.
Interactive Factual Narratives range from web-documentary, to games for change, VR and social mobile apps. You’ve likely seen examples of interactive factual narratives with the New York Times Snowfall, and Brett Gaylor’s Do Not Track. You will be given an exhaustive overview to be able to map the territory and position your practice in it. You will be guided through your creative journey with a user-centred workflow that mixes design and software methodologies to prototype and design interactive narratives. You will be challenged by a “what’s next” approach and will be pushed to think further than current trends.
The course incorporates an agency media LAB approach to learning through knowledge sharing and project completion which is pragmatic. It underpins problem solving using evolving theories and practice. The goal is the production of digital stories and, or interactive factual narrative. The method is through iteration and collaboration.
Modules on the course are compulsory and follow a schedule towards production of digital and, or interactive projects via an iterative approach. Testing and user experience is taken into consideration at each step of the creative process. You will be encouraged to work in ways that rewards experimenting, building and refining ideas. We expect a mix of cohorts, some yet to enter industry, others looking to bolster their careers or change direction and encourage a wisdom of crowds method in learning – also from one another.
You’ll be encouraged to work collaboratively, opening up your professional expertise, or experiences to the benefit of your course peers. In doing so, you will feel part of a creative community that will support you when needed, and may serve you as a network even after the course has finished.
By the end of the year you should reach a level of expertise to create innovative digital and interactive storytelling artefacts, acquiring a solid knowledge of the field, consolidating a multi-skilled network of people and developing digital prototypes of your ideas. By then your project should be ready to be presented to potential financers and media partners.
The following modules, below, which are all compulsory are indicative of what you will study on this course. The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.
Digital and Interactive Storytelling Core
The aim of this module is to provide you with a practical, theoretical and historical overview of the field and core elements in digital-first and interactive storytelling – with a focus on delivering factual narratives. Theories of visual communication, from photography and photojournalism to cinema journalism, and interactive factual narratives preface cohort’s work, and team projects. It’s given prominence by mastering social media platforms, particularly Medium.com, podcasts and Twitter. This module runs through the first part of the semester and will provide a critical space for the class to enhance ideas for further development.
Ideas and Concepts in Digital and Interactive Storytelling
Picking up from the first half of the semester, we focus on digital storytelling enveloping intermediate projects focusing on team-work. We harness a variety of theories and practices within images, audio, and video in digital form, with an appreciation of interactive and digital artefacts.
We’ll be learning and testing strategies to pin down and research the primary and secondary audience of the project, and incorporating “what, who and why” methodologies. This is where a mixture of user personas, impact charts, platform maps and other user experience techniques will be tried out.
A further focus is the creation of viable story models looking to user-centred design, testing techniques, and iterative methods of productions.
Creativity, Design and Platforms
This module builds upon skills learnt in the first semester, providing a deeper journey into the workflow for multiplatform productions. Concepts such as “project scoping” will be used to establish samples of your work. Current authoring and digital tools e.g. HTML/CSS, Klynt will be presented for you to become competent towards building digital models of varying complexity. Theories and practice of user experience, audience feedback, iterative design and user testing will be core to this module. By the end of this module you should be knowledgeable of how to move from ideas to production, as well as in exploring technology in relation to IT designing and multimedia platforms.
The Business of Digital and Interactive Storytelling
This module aims to equip you with the essential entrepreneurial skills you will need to move from an idea to its testing and the full production phase. This means mastering how to compose and manage a team, how to write a realistic budget for your project, how to find potential financers and distributors, how to defend and express your ideas, how to plan a marketing strategy and how to pitch your ideas to each of the people you will need to convince while producing your project.
This module is dedicated to the building of your Digital and Interactive Storytelling project and the consolidation of its industry treatment. It builds upon what has been achieved throughout the year and consolidates it around the production of your digital or interactive story. Through regular meetings and tutorials you will be supervised towards your final pitch in front of a panel of industry members. Following the pitch, you will be asked to provide a critical review piece that could be a written paper of up to 3,000 words or an interactive piece – the form of which will need to be discussed with your module leader. Here you will be able to critically evaluate your own work within the group efforts, position your project within the current interactive landscape and relevant interactive theory.
The course is mainly geared at giving you the right support and methodology to develop your interactive project during the course. The critical awareness and the iterative methodology that you will gain will then serve you to remain competitive in the digital creative industries you might enter in the future, regardless of the technologies they use.
The lecturers are all renowned experts in their fields.
Dr David Dunkley Gyimah, Course Leader.
A widely respected journalist-artist-technologists, David is a multiple award winning innovator, with almost 30 years industry experience working for some of the world’s top brands e.g. BBC, Channel 4 and training outfits like the FT. David is a former director of the Broadcast Journalism Training Council (BJTC) that accredits journalism institutions, an artist in residence at the Southbank Centre and juror for the Royal Television Society. He publishes viewmagazine.tv. He has been described by Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow, and Apple UK ,as an “original” and by former MA students as “preparing them for the real world”.
Dr Sandra Gaudenzi, Course Lecturer
Sandra is an expert on how documentary and factual content has evolved in creative digital stories. As a co-funder of i-Docs, a highly acclaimed three days symposium and research group, Sandra has contributed to the field theoretically in publications and books, and practically supervising award-winning work whilst being in demand across the world. Sandra is a former television producer with more than 20 years media experience. Her latest book covers the evolving practices of interactive documentary though case studies, interviews and papers. Sandra is respected as a “thought leader” by the BBC’s Chris Sizemore, and a “gifted visionary” by the Godmother of VR Nonny de la Peña. She is described as “a great source of inspiration” by former students.
Dr Massimiliano Fusari, Course Lecturer.
Massimo is an expert photojournalist and a consultant on multi-cultural communication, who previously worked in the Middle-East for 20 years. Massimo’s work is highly topical and pioneers theories and practices about “what next?’ within photography, combining ‘mark-up’ coding skills with historic and emergent work on the photographic image and montage, whilst running a course on creativity at the university. Photomontage via Klynt and animation are part of his output. Italian Ambassador Toscano said Massimilano’s work “relates not only to aesthetics but to ethics.” Whilst New-York-based Director at the streamingmuseum.org advisor for the United Nations Nina Colosi says “his work is needed more than ever".
Additional costs information
To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.
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