Having access to the Stornaway platform has allowed interactive students at Austin Community College to create and realise their ideas. From pre-production story mapping through to distribution.
The Austin Community College Radio-Television-Film Department take its students on a journey through cutting-edge educational programs in the art, technological craft, and business of digital storytelling. The department trains students in game theory, interactive story mapping, production, and post-production. Creating media makers ready to face and embrace the world after graduation.
Yours Truly: Dating Sim – fully animated project from Austin Community College Students
“Within weeks, students surprised me! Not only did they understand the idea of making playable stories, but they also became extremely creative in coming up with story ideas that were much better suited for a playable story rather than a non-playable story … Ultimately, it turned out that students found themselves exploring story ideas that never seemed possible before!” – John Moore, Associate Professor.
Why use Stornaway for interactive student films?
Since its launch in May 2020, Stornaway.io has been used by hundreds of companies around the globe. From learning and developing teams looking to re-engage their trainees, to event organisers wanting to make an unforgettable experience. From brands wanting to personalise their connections with their audience, to TV and film companies developing ideas to meet the increased demand for interactive video content. Thousands of producers in marketing, education, tourism and universities have been inspired by shows like Netflix’s “Bandersnatch” and “Bear Grylls: You vs Wild” and want to create content for VOD and game platforms.
Last month, Stornaway won an Innovate UK grant to “transform the future of editing”. The grant will develop a new model for interactive immersive video editing, taking video beyond the linear single-clip paradigm that’s dominated video software until now. This project will extend the existing Stornaway toolkit which empowers non-technical creators to easily create interactive/immersive video stories and games for multiple platforms including web, mobile apps, consoles, desktop, tv, VR and live events.
This could not be more relevant to students out there looking to equip themselves with the best skills to take out into the industry.
The Interview – Live Action project from Austin Community College Students – Shot on vintage VHS Cameras
Kate Dimbleby, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Stornaway.io, has been working with the lecturer team at Austin Community College to ensure that students get the most out of the software.
She said: “We originally designed Stornaway as a bridge for the next generation of filmmakers, already exploring and very familiar with this space between linear film and game. It has been fantastic to see Austin Community College students taking the software and coming up with ideas that we would never have thought about … Not bound by any commercial restrictions, they have the freedom to continually test and play.”
What Stornaway means to the Professors
“I think that the first two decades of the 21st century have been defined by interactivity and direct connection to one’s audience. This can be seen in Twitch Streamers answering questions in the chat, or Reddit AMA’s, or the fact that everyday people can speak directly to celebrities or world leaders over Twitter.
While most students are only trained to make media that talks at a viewer, Stornaway allows students to make projects that put the audience in the driver’s seat. Teaching students how to give an audience a sense of agency and ownership is invaluable in today’s digital landscape.
Stornaway offers a masterclass in audience interaction that few other programs can.” – John Moore, Associate Professor.
Stornaway focuses on the technology so teachers can focus on the teaching
With curriculums that are so tightly packed, it’s pivotal that every hour dedicated to each module is used as productively as possible. Students at Austin Community College can embrace interactive storytelling and interactive filmmaking in a 16-week sprint. During this time, lecturers are tasked with educating students on game theory, interactive story mapping, production, and post-production.
Stornaway has made this giant task simpler in so many ways.
“The true selling point for us was the ability to not only map out stories but also upload videos to the various story islands and have them be instantly playable. This ability to have both a pre-production story mapping software and distribution platform all in one was an amazing time saver. Add to that the fact that Kate, Ru Howe, and the Stornaway team were so eager to offer us personal support, it seemed like a no-brainer.” – John Moore, Associate Professor.
ACC RTF Chair/Professor Christian Raymond added, “Stornaway aligns with a department focus on innovative storytelling. I’ve created interactive films using other tools for branching and Stornaway from an access/usability standpoint is a revelation. Through a streamlined creative process, students in my advanced screenwriting class have been able to develop, write, test and revise compelling interactive screenplays.”
Stornaway can offer support to the lecturers teaching interactive filmmaking and the students using the software. The user-friendly interface has meant that most students – and lecturers – can open up the platform and begin making their first project in minutes.
What Stornaway means to the Students
Putting the ability of interactive creation – without coding – into the hands of the students is a hugely empowering experience.
“The students seem to love that the software acts as a nice introduction to interactive storytelling for those with no experience. Many students have always had a profound love for video games, but the concept of video game writing only seemed possible for those with advanced programming knowledge. For others with creative writing experience, it allowed them to deviate from their limitations of choosing only one story path or narrative arc. By the end of the semester, most students were adamantly inquiring about their next steps towards entering a career in interactive storytelling.” – John Moore, Associate Professor.
Crossroads – fully animated project from Austin Community College Students
Students have been able to embrace the topic of interactive storytelling within their course and create projects that not only demonstrate their understanding of the format but also showcase their incredible talent.
“Our students love having a plan in front of them for how they will create their interactive stories. They walk into a class on interactive storytelling with absolutely no clue of what the production pipeline will be. In their minds, making a playable video feels like it will take coding knowledge and an advanced degree in mathematics. To simply say, “it will all be done in this one program,” simplifies everything. On top of that, showing them past projects, made by students just like them, only serves to further their confidence.” – John Moore, Associate Professor.
The Stornaway map allows students to instantly start to look at their project in a completely new way. Designing their projects in a non-linear setting allows students to think of complex, playable narratives that gave the user agency.
At the 2021 Encounters Film Festival, we hosted a roundtable with four young filmmakers kickstarting their journeys in interactive film production. Each had a film screening at Immersive Encounters. See their top tips.
Quotes from the interactive filmmaking students
“It got me interested in game development. The main career that I want to go into is film, but I also have ideas for an interactive format and Stornaway got me interested in doing game development as a side project to pursue.” -Wes Kusaj
“I think it is so much fun to get all the different endings and to branch out in different ways of storytelling where it is not just linear” – Brailand Calhoun
“I think back to old choose your own adventure books and Dragonslayer. It’s probably a much more convenient way to write interactive stories than they probably had to do it” -Alexander Schaubhut
“It’s something new, so I just feel more freedom to play” -Anne Boyd
“Ultimately, Stornaway allowed students to immerse the viewer in whatever world they enjoy”
The lecturers have been constantly surprised at how students are using their expertise in storytelling and worldbuilding in their interactive projects within Stornaway.
“One of our students, Leo Eglin, loved drawing cartoons. When the prospect of making an interactive film arose, he decided that he would make a film with limited animation, having one panel per story map, with one or two moving elements.
Another student, Maddie Garcia, is extremely into sustainable and environmentally conscious living. She made an interactive documentary about a local Refillary, where citizens could have pre-used bottles refilled with various cleaning fluids.
Finally, another student, Kate Grier, loved both renaissance festivals and horror movies. She made an interactive Seance, where she (as the medium) guided the player into the stories of various spirits.”
Inspiring the next generation of interactive filmmakers
“The sheer range of content that Austin Community College are making is exactly what we designed Stornaway to unlock. So that anyone with a story can tell, can jump in and play with no coding experience or barriers to entry.
We see our student creators and university partnerships are a valuable part of our community as we build out the features of the platform in this next phase. They will be the ones heading into the workplace and transforming the way that stories can be told – not just in filmmaking but education, marketing, and training.
We desperately need more complex stories to engage a complex world and we are happy to see what happens when you get easy-to-use creator tools into the hands of the next generation. They show us the way.” – Kate Dimbleby, Stornaway.io Creative Director.
About Austin Community College:
Partnering with community and industry, the Austin Community College Radio-Television-Film Department cultivates media makers through cutting-edge educational programs in the art, technological craft, and business of digital storytelling. RTF has recently moved into a new state-of-the-art creative media centre along with Austin PBS at the ACC Highland campus. ACC RTF programs and facilities can be visited by taking a two-minute behind-the-scenes virtual tour.
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Find out more about the work Stornaway.io has done with Universities around the globe and see our Academic Offer.