"This fire leapt clear across two bays, hurdling at one point more than 3km of open water as if it was not even there. No one had ever seen that before."
Snow Fall, Meet Firestorm
If you haven’t checked it out yet—and I hope you have—The Guardian’s Firestorm, a Snow Fall-esque interactive long-form multimedia piece came out last month and it’s completely stunning.
From Poynter’s story on the teamwork required to put it together:
“I think you have to capture people’s hearts,” Francesca Panetta, special projects editor of interactive storytelling projects, said in a phone interview. “As with all kinds of storytelling, you can’t lose sight of that need to connect and touch people, whether it’s writing or radio or a complicated interactive.”
Firestorm is remarkable for a number of reasons, including the stellar video images and the subtle way that looping video is used behind the written story. The integration between words and video is handled with such finesse that the one doesn’t distract from the other.
“We’re very happy with the subtlety,” Panetta said.
The chapter navigation uses clear images and concise icons and labels, ensuring it’s always clear where you are in the story.
A project like Firestorm or The New York Times’ Pulitzer-winning interactive,Snow Fall, demands considerable resources. Twenty-three people are credited for Firestorm, which was three months in the making — actually a speedy turnaround for a project of this scale.
Many newsrooms don’t have that level of resources, of course. But they can still learn from The Guardian’s process and the project’s experiments with layered storytelling — and figure out ways to do something similar on a smaller scale.
Keep reading for key takeaways from the project.
FJP: I’ve been hearing people favor this one to Snow Fall but perhaps that’s because the story itself (which is incredibly moving) lends itself to a slightly more poignant interactive than Snow Fall…but both are fantastic. —Jihii
Bonus: E-book version of the story, which you can buy here, along with other Guardian shorts.