Monday, June 28, 2010

Watch NPR's 'Writer Who Couldn't Read'

Sometimes animation can serve as an important tool for part of a documentary -- especially in instances where it is impossible to capture photos or video of actual events in the past.

National Public Radio (NPR), ironically an audio medium, recently posted a three-minute  animated documentary on its Website -- and it tells a compelling true story entirely in animation.

"In January of 2002," writes the neuroscientist Oliver Sacks, "I received a letter from Howard Engel, a Canadian novelist describing a strange problem." Engel's problem was so strange, I decided to create a short video to let you see his story. Our narrator and animator is San Francisco artist Lev Yilmaz.
What is even more remarkable is that additionally offers a seven-minute audio version of the story (as broadcast on its "Morning Edition," below), and an illustrated text version of the story.

All three versions tell the intriguing tale of how a stroke rendered detective novelist Howard Engel unable to read, and yet he was able to regain his able to write. But each version is original and not "repurposed" -- which is to say that the text on the Web page is NOT merely a transcript of the radio broadcast NOR the animated documentary feature. Each version is distinctive, self-contained   ...   and worthy of your attention.

Check them out here.

And think about other instances where animation can enhance nonfiction visual storytelling.

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