Monday, December 1, 2008

Interactive Intimacy

On we previously spotlighted an innovative use of interactive video: A Conversation with Sir Ian McKellen, in which the acting legend discusses Shakespeare and "Richard III," line by line. You click on any of a series of questions about Shakespeare or the play, and the actor addresses the camera and answers it, as though talking directly to you. He'll even chit-chat while you're figuring out which question to click next, humorously cajoling you to select one already! It's the closest thing to having him in the room with you.

Now the Los Angeles Times has cleverly adopted this technique for its online mega-package about how south-of-the-border drug wars are impacting us in the U.S. : Mexico Under Seige.

In an interactive video Q&A session, staff writers Sam Quinones and Richard Marosi each fill your monitor as they look directly at you and answer such questions as: Is it safe to travel to Tijuana? How are drugs getting across the border? Why can't Mexican police handle the problem? You can even type in your own questions for them to answer another day.

As with Sir Ian, while they patiently wait for you to click on another question, the reporters just sit there, against a black backdrop -- not as a still image, but on a video loop, to give the impression that they're a living, breathing presence. It's the kind of intimacy that is designed for the one-to-one interaction that you're more likely to find on a computer monitor than on a TV screen.

We look forward to seeing what other uses videojournalists can find for this non-linear storytelling technique.

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