4 Tools for Creating Interactive Docs
By Robinder Uppal & Marc Serpa Francoeur
Hey there, 21st Century Doc Maker! Do you want to delve into the world of interactive doc production even if you aren’t a computer programmer?
Here’s a quick look at four different tools that can help you create or design a wide stylistic range of interactive docs without writing a single line of code. They’re free, at least to try, and will give you the chance to explore some ideas about how your interactive project might come to life.
“An affordable desktop editing & publishing application dedicated to visual storytellers.”
WHAT IS IT?
An offline software that employs a Final Cut-esque interface specifically intended for interactive doc production. User-friendly tutorial videos and tech support make this powerful application easy to learn. Because Klynt works offline, it avoids time-consuming content uploads and the frustrating server failures that can occasionally cripple web-based tools. Even the free demo allows for enough complexity to build a fully functioning piece with simple transitions and some custom design features. Keep in mind that creating a finished project will take plenty of time and the platform is probably best suited to those with editing experience. If you’re envisioning a polished, customized multimedia experience and you’ve got the time to design from the ground up, Klynt could be perfect for you.
14 day trial, $199 lite edition, $599 pro edition
Uses HTML5; works on mobile devices but not designed for touch functionality.
“Seamlessly integrate text, audio, video, and interactive elements into beautiful multimedia stories for apps, ebooks and the web.”
WHAT IS IT?
An online platform for the creation of essentially linear multimedia narratives that users navigate by scrolling forward or backward. The interface is very straightforward and similar to WordPress or other foolproof web design platforms. Originally intended for long-form journalism, Creatavist is a an excellent tool for producing highly accessible doc projects that combine video clips with text, photos, audio, graphics, etc. There’s also great potential here to create simple multimedia pieces in lieu of conventional trailers that concisely communicate the narrative of a project in development using text and other available materials to bolster video content.
First project free, unlimited publishing $10/month.
Uses HTML5; publishes for web, Kindle and Nook e-readers, and as iPad or iPhone apps; Android app coming soon.
Both independents and institutions alike are using Creatavist, including the Weather Channel, with The Sea Washed it Away, about the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
“Korsakow is an open-source application for creating web docs and other kinds of nonlinear, interactive narratives.”
WHAT IS IT?
Probably one of the best known interactive doc platforms out there, Korsakow has been going strong since its creation in the early 2000s by German artist and filmmaker Florian Thalhofer. The basic concept relies on linking together video clips with keywords to create a kind of ‘choose your own adventure’ nonlinear narrative. While not for everyone, Korsakow offers a totally different approach to filmmaking well suited to the right content. This simple offline software may be challenging at first, but once you get the hang of the interface, it’ll be smooth sailing. Obvious limitations include a serious lack of custom design features, making Korsakow best for projects and prototypes more concerned with content than aesthetics.
Free for small and non-commercial projects, modest fees for those with budgets over $3000.
Flash-based, designed for video content; unavailable on mobile devices.
“Create fully-interactive high-fidelity prototypes in minutes that look and work exactly like your app should.”
WHAT IS IT?
An online interface that lets users design their own mobile apps from scratch. Despite being somewhat more complicated than the other tools featured here and understandably more time-consuming to learn, Proto.io offers a great degree of control over design and the nature of your project’s interactivity. The complexity of the platform is balanced by the ease with which you can preview your work in progress on the kind of mobile device or tablet you’re working with. Although not overtly intended for doc makers, Proto.io is a good bet if you want to design and build a basic, working prototype of your ‘doc app’, whether to advance your own creative process, or to communicate your vision to collaborators and funders. Simpler tools for mobile app prototyping include Flinto and InVision, but these may not do the trick if you’re intending to include lots of video content.
15 day trial, $24/month ‘freelancer’ rate, 50% discount for non-profits or academic use.
Uses HTML5; capable of producing prototypes for mobile devices (both iOS and Android) that simulate the look and feel of real apps.
Check out the many demos featured on the homepage. Keep in mind that none of these samples are docs, so some imagination is required.