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New Media for a New Millennium

Project description

Cross-media content for leisure and entertainment
New storytelling for new media

A European project has created an entirely new way of developing TV shows, movies and interactive multimedia. It could revolutionise the way stories are told and narratives developed, with the user or viewer as the controlling the action.

The NM2 project, short for New Millennium, New Media, created a suite of tools for a totally new form of media creation. And, over time, it will mean storytelling develops in new, completely unimagined ways.

Up to now, stories have been developed on simple, linear lines, where the authors relate a cause and decide its effect. But for ‘new media’ to be truly new, researchers must develop a new way of storytelling, one that can adapt to and interact with the audience.

Same old story

Media channels have become two way, where the audience can send as well as receive. Such interactivity provides a clear demonstration that we have entered into a new millennium. But despite the powerful alliance of computers and communications, storytelling remains the same.

Game and multimedia developers struggle to develop interactive stories. Their creation is difficult and, most often, experimental. The results tend to be hit and miss. And when it is time to tell a new story, developers have to start all over again, from scratch. The process is time consuming and costly and has impeded the development of truly interactive media for years.

But not, perhaps, for much longer. NM2 took as its starting point a new type of narrative development, a type the researchers named ‘ShapeShifted’ narrative, to reflect its adaptable nature.

The users decide

One demonstration of ShapeShifted narrative, a pilot programme called ‘Accidental Lovers’, told the love story of a man in his 30s and a woman in her 60s.

But the production team shot and prepared the narrative with a variety of developments. For example, did the lovers live happily ever after, or were they tragically doomed? The viewers decided.

Once they did they were served with the plot development of their choice as part of a seamless narrative. The film was a popular and critical success. It demonstrated the power of NM2’s toolset to script and produce ShapeShifted narratives.

The tools fit into a typical film-editing workflow. A script-logging tool annotates scripts and film rushes with relevant descriptions. The authoring tool describes the narrative structure, a description tool tags media objects and a preview tool shows the effects of user choices, validating the story works.

Storyboards are defined by what the researchers have called ‘Placeholder Narrative Objects’, which identify key points where the narrative could shift into a new story arc.

Paradigm shifting

In all, NM2 has produced a complete package capable of allowing developers to produce stories in a totally new, paradigm-shifting fashion. The industry has been quick to recognise the value of the researchers’ work, and responses show that media professionals believe NM2 offers an original and technically accomplished new direction for storytelling.

NM2’s researchers officially finished their work on 31 August 2007, but the project team have set up a community portal for interested users and potential customers of NM2 tools as part of their business development.

And that means that the new millennium will soon be able to enjoy new media storytelling.

In support of the objectives of the Lisbon summit and the eEurope 2005 action plan, NM2 (New Media for a New Millennium) will create prototype production tools for the media industry that will allow the easy production of non-linear media genres based on moving audio visual images suitable for transmission over broadband networks. The new media genres will be engaging and potentially profitable. They will be characterised by the fact that the narrative presentation of the moving image media is personalised to suit the preferences of the engager. NM2 will use a practice based research methodology and will deliver seven new media productions based on the same media tools exploring a range of non-linear narrative forms for different content genres as diverse as documentary, drama and news reporting. These productions, developed in film schools, media labs and innovative production companies, will all be mentored by major broadcasters who will assess the new media genres and consider whether the concepts they embody are suitable for mainstream adoption by national broadcasters and distributors. This methodology, the strong focus on narrativity and machine based understanding of content will lead to the creation of prototype systems that are easy to use, relevant to the industry and optimised to the creation of media with good narrative structure and high production values, all of which are essential in the creation of compelling media. NM2 will develop strong commercial understanding of the opportunities for production based on assessments of both user reception and of the potential market. The core media handling capability developed as part of media presentation capability is likely to have more generic uses in other media forms apart from cinematic media including games and music.

Call for proposal

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Wieblinger weg 19/4
69123 Heidelberg

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Baden-Württemberg Karlsruhe Heidelberg, Stadtkreis
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
EU contribution
No data

Participants (12)