“Stornaway.io has revolutionised my way of working.”
Paul Raschid, interactive film director – at DevCom 2021
We were delighted to be asked to present last month at DevCom – Europe’s biggest game developer conference – together with the director and lead actors of the new FMV game / interactive film The Gallery.
Kate presented a short documentary on the history of FMV Games (which we will share here soon), Ru introduced Stornaway.io and prolific writer/director Paul Raschid (The Complex, Five Dates, Deathtrap Dungeon: The Golden Room) had some fascinating insights about his interactive filmmaking process using Stornaway.io, which we’ll share here.
As we’ve said before, interactive filmmaking can be difficult and confusing for TV, film and video producers used to creating more linear content. When reflecting on creating Bandersnatch for Netflix, Charlie Brooker said it “Everyone went a bit bananas… it was like doing a Rubik’s cube inside your brain. There were no tools aimed at professionals used to writing scripts…”
Except now there are! Stornaway.io’s interactive filmmaking tools allow creative producers and writers to visually map out, script, and test ideas collaboratively.
How can Stornaway help in the production of interactive films?
When interactive filmmakers and FMV game producers come to Stornaway.io expecting a regular interactive video tool, they quickly realise that’s only the start of what the platform has to offer:
- Simplifying the process of setting up choices and branching storylines
- Providing real-time testing and control in interactive writing and editing
- Innovating the way that you use interactivity in your story
When should you start using Stornaway in your interactive film production?
Many creators use Stornaway as the most powerful tool for interactive film post-production. Our own experience creating interactive stories allowed us to design it as an invaluable pre-production and shooting resource too.
The complexities of interactive video projects are apparent long before you reach the cutting room. Directors have found that a really magic moment is when they use Stornaway early in the process:
- Using the Story Map to plot out multiple paths and playtest their story
- Using Stornaway’s interactive scriptwriting tool to help write each Story Island in detail and develop powerful non-linear narratives
- Being able to bring the cast and crew together on the same page, with the physical visualisation of the writer and director’s ideas
How can you untangle the challenges of filming an interactive film?
At this year’s DevCom, we presented a talk with writer and director Paul Raschid on the process of using Stornaway during the production of his new interactive feature film, The Gallery.
Paul is the world’s most experienced and eclectic director of interactive films, with hit projects The Complex, Five Dates and Deathtrap Dungeon: The Golden Room under his belt, as well as award-winning linear feature White Chamber.
He talked about the process he’s developed over the course of these interactive films and FMV games, for creating an interactive script as a playable gamebook, and mapping it as a flowchart. We’ll get into more detail about his interactive filmmaking process in an upcoming post.
Paul shared that using Stornaway.io during production was an eye-opening moment. Suddenly, the cast and crew were able to understand exactly where they were, and how the scene they were filming was influenced by previous choices. They could see how everything fits within the greater non-linear story, giving them an understanding of where their character was at that moment in time, and what their different emotional journeys could be.
In production and in post-production, Paul says that Stornaway.io has “revolutionised the way his team were able to work together”.
Saving time and money, he spoke about how it had removed an entire department of coders from the end of the production process and given the power of the game engine and testing to all of his other departments, hugely improving productivity and creativity throughout.
In the DevCom Q&A with Ru and Kate, he said,
“I would say the greatest thing about Stornaway is that it hasn’t disrupted the traditional mastering process. If anything, I’ve been able to to make the game engine part of that whole post-production workflow and do it all myself, which is just fantastic. We didn’t have to bring in a whole new department to do it.
So I’ve still got our composer composing the music, our VFX team working on the VFX, our colourist grading it, our sound design team working on the sound post – and I did an ADR session with Anna Popplewell the other day.
And our game engine is there and ready to go. And as soon as we get new versions of each thing, I’m just able to drop them into their Story Islands and just keep updating it as we go along.
And the other the other worry that we had, which was an issue that I had on on other things, is that it was a completely separate department and it had a completely separate timeline to all the other post-production processes, which were sort of out of my control.
Stornaway has given me the opportunity to have complete control of it and run it all the other post-production in the background. And so it’s not on a separate timeline at all. It’s on the same timeline as the other post, which has been truly, truly really a great great thing for us.”
How the linked Story Map, Script and Player can stop you from getting lost
The Stornaway.io team have spent decades working in television, digital, film and theatre – on both creative and technical sides – so we designed it with the whole workflow in mind.
When we were making Life Moves Pretty Fast while developing Stornaway’s creative workflows, we created the linked Story Map, Script and Preview player as essential day-to-day interactive production tools. Each scene is impacted by the different choices and decisions that a user may have made up to that point, so it can be so easy to get, quite literally, as lost as Wolfie gets in the story!
Life Moves Pretty Fast’s shot list showing Islands and Links
Life Moves Pretty Fast – Story Map and linked interactive script in Stornaway.io
Using Stornaway.io as we developed it, from pre-production through to final delivery, enabled us to simplify the creative and practical complexities of a branching narrative film.
Life Moves Pretty Fast and Stornaway.io creator Ru Howe says, “We needed something that not only let us plan out and script our story but play-test it in real-time before we’d shot it, so we could really feel what it would be like for people to watch and replay.
“The trick with interactive video storytelling is that what you see in your head and on the page is very different from the reality of what it’s like to play it in real time. Previously nobody has been able to experience this until the end of postproduction when it’s too late to change it.
We wanted to create something that let you map and script and test the end result in real-time right from the start. This has completely transformed the development process.”.
We created Stornaway.io to complement professional film and tv workflows, to empower writers, directors and producers to dream up complex ideas and make compelling interactive tv, film and FMV game stories quickly and easily – without going bananas like Charlie Brooker’s team did.
Embedding Stornaway early into your interactive filmmaking process enables you and your team to garner the full potential of the platform.
Get stuck in now by watching the 3 minute Getting Started video and signing up for a free account. You can find more interactive video and film resources on this site, and contact us if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing what you make!
The Gallery is due for release in 2022.