The Thirst in the Mojave piece is my attempt at making video interactive and contextualizing its content. Video on the web is great but it lacks many web-centric features or enhancements.
The advantage of web video over traditional video has typically revolved around the ability to share with friends and time-shift watching content. Thirst in the Mojave tries to bring a little more web mentality to video but still utilize the linear narrative strengths that make video such a great storytelling tool.
Each scene in the story is geo-located to where it was shot or what you are seeing. A GPS data-logger was used on every shoot for the project and GPS coordinates were logged for each shot and photograph made.
Every “lower-third” for the people speaking is brought in using flash and allows you to always know who is currently speaking. If you click on the name of the person, you can see a short bio including information relevant to what they are speaking about. The idea here was to contextualize or qualify their voice of authority.
The more info box is triggered by the video playing to bring up context specific data, facts, graphics, links or videos. This is a great way to provide content that is informative and relevant but could slow down the main narrative.
Another use of the more info box in this project was transparency. An example of this is a scene in part 3 where Pat Mulroy is talking about the pipeline project on Face to Face with Jon Ralston. In the narrative you see several clips from the program but in the more info box you can watch the entire Face to Face show that those clips came from. Any viewers who might be skeptical that those clips were taken out of context can watch the program and see that the clips were selected appropriately.
The main narrative video content is divided into 5 parts for the web. The piece was also edited for TV by cutting it into 4 parts for commercial breaks with a total run time of 22 minutes.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve edited an interview and had to lop off some really interesting information because it strayed from or didn’t fit the tight narrative I was working on. Now the viewer is in control and can let their curiosity of a subject drive them to discover more on their own. Facts spoken in the video can have links citing sources, or where to go for more info.
There is also approximately another 60 minutes of extra footage that shows up in the more info box during the piece. Dozens of infographics were created for the piece. Between the geocoded map items, info box extras and bios there are about 145 extra pieces of information shown.
We thought this topic was strong enough to go even further. We built a database of water usage from public water records for over 1/2 a million single family homes in the valley. We then built a “water use app” to allows viewers to search a map of the Las Vegas Valley to find out how much water they’ve used in the last year. They can then compare their usage to their neighbors. On top of the search functionality we also visualized water usage density and swimming pool density on the map. Approximately 70% of the water problem falls on outdoor residential water use, I think this app is a real asset towards understanding that problem and hopefully doing something about it.