Worknote #8: Helix, American Interior and a new Brighton Office


The end of April saw a couple of really interesting Storythings projects come to fruition, and a couple more kick off. First of all, we’ve been building an app for Penguin as part of Gruff Rhys’ epic ‘investigative tour’ project American Interior. If you were at The Story conference in Feb you would have seen Gruff give an excerpt of his journey across America uncovering the story of John Evans, an 18th Century Welsh pioneer who searched for a mythical tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans.

The American Interior project is truly multi-platform, including an album, a book, a *gorgeous* film, a tour, and our app (available from early May on iOS and Android). We’ve based the app on one of the key songs from the project – 100 Unread Messages – and so the app tells the story of Gruff’s journey through 100 messages, mixing up video, audio, animated gifs and excerpts from the book.


Its a great way to tell a story, but we wanted to open up the app so it wasn’t just a hermetically sealed app sitting on your phone. So we’ve made all 100 messages shareable on social networks, and used Twitter’s deep-linking card format so that if you share the card on Twitter to a friend with the app installed, the link will take you directly to that message.

This is something we’re experimenting with on a couple of projects, and we’re really interested to see how we can use new behaviours and metaphors like Mobile Cards as part of our storytelling projects. We’re currently working with our partners Pulse Films on a new music-related product that takes this card structure even further. If you’d like to talk to us about these ideas, and how they might work for your projects, then please get in touch – we’d love to talk to you.



The second project we’ve just finished is Helix – a short web animation project for Lighthouse in Brighton. Helix came out of a residency at Lighthouse with artist David Blandy, illustrator Daniel Locke (no relation to Storythings’ Matt Locke!) and scientist Adam Rutherford. During the residency, David researched the history of DNA and genetics, and linked this to his personal interest in remixing culture, from the myths and legends of the past to contemporary hip-hop and manga. The result is a four-act story that uses the character of a 500 yr old man to reflect on how the core idea of remixing continually resurfaces through culture and science.

We started building the project as an ipad prototype for the launch of the project exhibition last year, then worked with Lighthouse to make a web version. It’s enabled us to develop more of the ideas we’ve had about episodic storytelling that we developed in earlier projects like Pepys Road and Diesel Days To Live. David and Daniel are currently appearing at science festivals across the country talking about the project, so if you get a chance, go and see them – they’re a great double act!

Finally – we’ve opened a second office in Brighton, alongside the space we share with our partners Pulse Films in Shoreditch. We’re very lucky to have a space at Lighthouse in the centre of Brighton, were there is an awesome mix of creative companies and delicious lunch venues. We’re working a lot more with local Brighton talent at the moment, so it made sense to open an office there, but we’ll continue to be in London every week as well. At the moment we’re working on a major new cross-platform TV format with Pulse Films for Channel 4, the new mobile music product we mentioned earlier, and new work for a couple of very big London-based media companies, so we needed more space to house our teams as we grow. Its all very exciting – if you’re in Brighton and want to talk about working with us, then please get in touch!



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