Multimedia Storytelling

For this week’s challenge, let’s create a multimedia post and use three specific elements, described below.

If you’re an avid reader on the internet, you’ve likely read or heard of “Snow Fall,” the elaborate and interactive New York Times feature that tells the story of skiers caught in an avalanche. The Pulitzer Prize-winning story is noted for its multimedia elements including video, animation, and graphics, and ever since its publication, websites have mimicked it with projects mixing text, image, video, sound, and other elements.

We know how to design on paper, but screens exist in a state of flux. They can change. Our old metaphors don’t necessarily hold up. So what are the mechanics of balancing all the elements in our content? What factors should be kept in mind?

Allen Tan, “Attention, Rhythm & Weight”

New York Times designer Allen Tan penned a nice piece on STETtalking about what it takes to design a story — and mix text, image, and other components — in the digital age. It’s an interesting read about the challenges of storytelling today on platforms that continue to evolve.

For this week’s challenge, let’s celebrate and use the online tools we have and create a multimedia post: it can be a story, a photo essay, a poem, an experimental and sensory piece, and anything else. The one requirement is to include at least three elements:

  1. text
  2. a minimum of one image
  3. a third media component —  audio, video, gallery, slideshow, blockquotes, styled text, etc.

You can include more than three elements, of course!

Text + image + sound

We recently stumbled upon a creative and evocative post about Berlin at Just One Day in a Lifetime. The post is composed of black and white images of Berlin’s streets and sights, and a David Bowie track plays while you’re viewing the post. (Kudos to the blogger for making this work — many people hate visiting pages on which music plays automatically, and it’s done tastefully here.)

Scroll down the post and you’ll notice some images have a layer of text (which you can achieve using an image editor like Pixlr Editor, PicMonkey, or even the photo preview tool on some computers — on the Mac,  open an image on your desktop and go to Tools → Annotate → Text). The image-text interplay produces a lovely effect that offers a bit of context and tells a story, while the accompanying music blends beautifully. Personal, emotional, and visual, the post mixes three types of media quite well. Adding text onto your images is just an idea, of course. Simply adding captions or lines of text between photographs will work great, too. Ultimately, the format is up to you — we’re curious to see what you come up with, and how you consider three (or more) elements to build your post.

Multimedia ideas at a glance

Alternatively, if you don’t want to embed audio or video, you can link to audio or video elsewhere on the web within the post, ideally exactly when you want your reader to hear or see something. We look forward to reading (and hearing and seeing) your multimedia posts!

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    1. The features noted in the post are for embedding songs, not downloading. You’re not uploading actual audio files to your blog and hosting them on your site; rather, you’re displaying an audio player on your blog, which is able to play a song that is hosted elsewhere on the web. The responsibility for copyright lies with the SoundCloud (or YouTube/Vimeo/etc.) uploader, not with you.


      1. I would have that checked, you are still using someone elses work. Its like saying just because a link to someone elses photo that shows on your blog its ok, its not it is still using someone elses work.
        I have had my images displayed on another web via a link and they had not asked for my permission. Just because its on another site does not make it legal. An example on Youtube I have two videos made up of images and it has music over the top I am not able to download my videos from Youtube as Youtube has an arrangement with the licencing authority. Its still my work but I dont have the right to the music. Copyright is a very difficult area and as new technology arises new laws are written. Its a minefield.


    2. There are song on sound cloud that are listed for sharing. On the left or the search results they have options to refine your search and if you click ‘to share’ then you can use the songs that show up in the search.


  1. Sometimes I do these challenges; and sometimes I just don’t have time to get them done in four days — but they always rumble around in my head, and I almost always learn something. I can add text to my photos from my desktop? Wow. I was doing it from Phonto on my phone — now I can’t wait to try it on the Mac.
    Thank you editors, for continually inspiring us to try something new…


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