In the May issue of the AIRblast, Jesse Shapins helps to pull back the veil on how audio producers and interactive documentary fit together. He's got a great vantage point on the question, as one of the co-founders of Zeega—a nonprofit inventing new forms of interactive storytelling. Over the next nine months, Zeega is working with eight of the 10 Localore projects to invent a new generation of distinctive interactive storytelling platforms.
While filmmakers have been taking the lead in documentary innovation, audio producers are poised to make the leap to interactive, he observes—both because they're practiced in tailoring content to a variety of lengths and formats, and because they really understand how to keep listeners on the hook.
"Because radio can't rely on images to carry a narrative or evoke a mood, radio storytellers tend to be some of the most exceptional at crafting poignant stories and refusing to let a single moment of potential boredom creep into a narrative," he writes.
"This expertise in quality, short-form storytelling will be a huge advantage for the radio community as it makes the transition to creatively combining broadcast and the Web from the beginning of projects. This editorial rigor translates not only into the audio components of interactive projects, but also to works as a whole."
Shapins also notes that while producers of many interactive docs struggle to build distribution, "a requirement for all of the Localore projects is that they're to be developed in the context of a local public media station. I think this is brilliant and one more quality that sets the initiative apart from others internationally. The potential for this broadcast element is tremendous. It ensures a significant initial audience, enabling novel forms of participatory documentary."
Read on for Shapins' picks of current audio-rich interactive docs, and check back here to watch the Localore projects evolve.