Digital Storytelling for Branding


I’ve started collecting instances of animated digital stories. This video from Moo.com matches their light and quirky branding. The music is bluegrass-y, the visuals march along at double-speed, and the stickers created in the video would be very familiar to their average viewer: likely a professional, artist, small business owner or professional artisan. I challenge you to show me a person who is in the market for $50 business cards who hasn’t been exposed to a small batch handmade soap or exotic coffee from Smallsville, St. Elsewhere.

A caption-less video that affords the viewer an omnipresent procedural view, assumes that the viewer already possesses a baseline understanding of the subject. The video then is not purposed as an informational piece, it is a promotional one.

The video shows the entire production process;  from when the user initiates the order, to the printing, cutting, order fulfillment and mailing then finally end-user implementation. The video presents each part of the process so quickly that the viewer quickly realizes that one must grasp the images as meaning or else miss the entire message. The video doesn’t have any captions or titles, so the speed remains constant throughout, and there is no external presence inserted. We are left to our own devices to interpret the images before us. This indicates that MOO assumes that the viewer already understands or has a baseline conceptualization  of  the product design interface, printing press and paper cutting process.

A person without such a mental schema would not understand the images presented to them.

For example, we, the omnipresent viewer, watched the user design their stickers “at home”. Next, we watched the file become a printed object. We saw the “chomp” motion of the paper-cutter, and we watched the disembodied hands of the worker gather the stack and place it into the MOO package. As the omnipresent viewer, MOO gave us a front row seat to  view of the entire process, and are thus expected to understand it, to comprehend it, to make sense of it because of the social capital we bring to he table.  Such a video assumes a baseline knowledge on our part, which indicates their audience has certain  experiences, information and professions which would need their services.

Moo presents this video on the front page of their website with the caption:

Ever wondered how we go about making our products? Well, for the very first time ever we’ve caught it all on camera.

It is advertising lay-speak : akin to the hunter laying on their belly on the forest floor, so that he or she will blend into the bushes. The hunter wants to be hidden, obscured from view.  This particular  introduction implies that MOO accidentally caught the slippery production process on tape, like a puffin just wandered into the trap of their frame, and they decided to share it with the rest of us who have no idea what the centuries old printing process looks like.

Clever. Clever indeed.Even knowing all that I do about digital storytelling and advertising, I’m still designing my MOO cards…how DO they make them anyways…. 🙂

The Dawn of a Digital Storytelling Career?


Contribute to the INDIEGOGO campaign

Yes, indeedy, I am translating my skills gleaned in the academy and at the CUNY New Media Lab and the Center for Digital Storytelling  into a marketable trade in the Performing Arts.  I am the New Media Consultant and director of all things technical  on the new indie musical “Talking to DeVon“. It is a multimedia musical with a digital trance-house soundtrack. The scene is set in the DMV, anywhere USA, where three strangers meet and learn that their paths had been leading up to that one moment of interaction. It is a funny, complex and emotional play that really speaks to my ideals of enhancing our quality of life by our receptivity to  genuine interactions with strangers.

Signature image for the Musical "Talking to Devon"

The idea behind the low-fi visuals is that the characters could be anyone, anywhere, you, me or your neighbor. In each moment, we can and do choose what energy we put into the universe. Talking to Devon explores the possibility of being your best possible self, in the company of strangers.

The play is grounded in Five Elemental Theory and includes dance, spoken word, an original soundtrack, video and sound installation and audience participation. We will open in Dallas, and our second venue will be in my beloved Brooklyn, NY! Tweet us for ongoing details!  My job as the Digital Storyteller is to work closely with the artist, Leisha LaShawn to conceptualize her ideas into something for the screen using relatively lo-tech video tools to convey organic ideals. The video will demonstrate the various emotions woven into the script, and will go with the songs to convey the meanings of Five Elemental Theory. Some of video will offer comic relief, or let the audience know when there is a transition in the story.

Overall, I think the play will be valuable for those of us who live fast-paced or hectic lives, who find it challenging to find or make time for mental and emotional rest.

We are raising funds on Indiegogo, so that we can pay for the first staging, set production, liability insurance, soundtrack mastering and all the other incidentals that bring great musicals to the stage.  I hope that you will find the story compelling enough to read more. If you enjoy the idea of spreading good energy among up-and-coming artists, then please do contribute to our IndieGoGo campaign. In addition to our gratitude, we offer fantastic material incentives in exchange for your heard-earned greenbacks 🙂

Be sure to tell me what you think about the video!

In creativity,

Shawndel