Digital Story Critique #7: Welcome to Pine Point

*I am currently working my way through my fourth semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver.  This is the seventh post within a series of critiques on digital stories that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Digital Storytelling.

This week’s critique is on an interactive documentary titled Welcome to Pine Point.  I loved Bear 71 so much, that I went back to the National Film Board of Canada’s website to see what other goodies I could find.  Welcome to Pine Point was created by the Goggles {Media Group}: Paul Shoebridge + Michael Simons.  The project was produced in Vancouver by the NFBC and explores the memories of residents from the former mining community of Pine Point, Northwest Territories, as well as how we remember the past.  I chose to critique this interactive documentary because I was truly mesmerized not only by the documentary itself (which is amazing), but the emotional journey that it took me on.

Opening Screen

The “mixed-media” look and feel is what first drew me in. I love anything that looks like interesting art!

To critique this piece, I used the following traits from Jason Ohler’s “Assessing digital stories, new media narrative“:  1.) story, 2.) research and 3.) originality, voice, and creativity.

  • Story – I absolutely love how this story was done.  At first, I thought it was about a town that still existed and this documentary was serving as a sort of introduction to the town.  It felt like it could be used as the town’s website and would have a few links to tourist attractions and the address to the town hall.  But the actual story within this documentary is really quite different from what I thought or expected.  In an effort to not give too much away, all I will say is Shoebridge and Simons did a phenomenal job of keeping me hooked and making me wonder where the story was going.  They had characters in their story, even though the story wasn’t really about those specific characters.  They used used their own viewpoints as well as the viewpoints of others and mixed in quite a bit of history.  All in all, the story is quite beautifully told and left me with a strange feeling of nostalgia for a town I’d never even heard of.  The way they told the story is incredibly unique and I loved the experience of it!Real People in Pine Point
  • Research –  It is beyond obvious that Shoebridge and Simons did an extensive amount of research for this project.  The history and detail involved, the real people and places, the photos and videos sifted through and collected, it all must have been incredibly time-consuming and arduous.  But the end result was well worth the work and the research truly makes the story real and come alive for the participants.Hand Drawn Town
  • Originality, voice, and creativity – I’ve been seeing some incredibly creative pieces while in this digital storytelling course, but this interactive documentary takes the cake!  It’s hard to say if it’s more or less creative and original than Bear 71, because it’s just, well…Welcome to Pine Point is just different.  This story is so original and creative not just for how it’s told (which I covered in the first bullet), but for how it looks and for how the audience participates and interacts with the piece.  Shoebridge and Simons used mixed media throughout the story utilizing real photographs and video clips, as well as hand-drawn and animated graphics.  This method really gives the piece such a unique and eclectic feel.  The interactivity is creative in that there is something new for the audience to click on or move around on every few pages.  The slide below is just one example of interactivity, where the audience can/must move around the badges, simply to read the text beneath them.  Interactivity

I wrote it for Bear 71 and I’ll write it for Welcome to Pine Point…if you have twenty minutes to do anything with today, use it to interact with Welcome to Pine Point.  You will not regret it.

***Images from here.