Taking a closer look at digital storytelling

What's not to love about interesting stories, especially if they are animated and interactive?

Taking a closer look at digital storytelling

What’s not to love about interesting stories, especially if they are animated and interactive?

Tusitala, a digital storytelling studio under Potato Productions, always has something unique to bring to the table when it comes to storytelling. They have done various digital storytelling projects such as Local Flavours for Singapore Heritage Festival and Stories on Site with National Arts Council. 

Read on to learn more about Christine and her team’s experiences in creating engaging stories for all ages!  


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I’m Christine, the head of Tusitala, a digital storytelling studio that crafts unique reading experiences for contemporary audiences. My professional background is as an editor and arts administrator, and some of my personal interests are in board and video games and novel lifestyle experiences. It’s fun and exciting that I can bring those two together at Tusitala.


2. How has COVID-19 affected the way that people consume content and how has that affected Tusitala?

Literally one day before PM Lee made the COVID-19 announcement in March 2020, my team and I were setting up Sorta Scary Singapore Stories for Textures at the Arts House. It is a 360° illustration project based on Singapore fiction, delivered through a VR headset, and we were very excited about its possibilities. While the project was well-received, we were disappointed that COVID-19 killed off any further exploration in that format since VR headsets were considered dangerously “high touch point” and there were no more in-person events in the foreseeable future.

Once the circuit breaker started, many publishers and writers held the hope that people would “stay at home and read”. There was also some concern about supporting the artist community financially so quite a lot of digital content was being commissioned. This benefited us and led to projects like the little red comma with Esplanade and the Stories on Site series with NAC’s Arts in Your Neighbourhood. Unfortunately, digital fatigue set in within 6 months.


3. What are some good examples of digital storytelling that you take references from?

The interesting thing about this area of work is there are always new projects and formats to explore and experiment with. Early on, I was inspired by (now defunct?) Editions at Play, a collaboration between publisher Visual Editions and the Google Creative Lab. I also subscribe to many newsletters, keep track of awards, attend workshops or online panels, etc.  

There are also a few great conferences in this space. I recently presented a paper at the MIX 2021: Amplified Publishing, which introduced me to the many cool projects and initiatives in digital storytelling happening around the world. My personal favourite is Reader Remix, a sound-mixing + narrative project by a fellow panellist Gavin Inglis. 

As part of our research for the NAC art x tech incubation lab, the team recently attended the MuseumNext XR Summit, which showcased a number of exciting digital storytelling possibilities using VR, AR and XR. That also inspires us to what the future could look like with storytelling, experienced not just on the internet, but physically, interacting with the space around us and all our senses of sight and sound. 


4. How do you usually collaborate with your clients on your projects?

We’ve been lucky in that most of our clients trust us very much to try new things. With local flavours, our hawker food poem delivery project, the National Heritage Board more or less gave us free rein over the concept and execution, which we really appreciated. When we work with artists, we try to be as highly collaborative and give them as much creative freedom as possible. That can be quite challenging, especially when we were working with as many as 30 poets and illustrators on the local flavours project!  

Generally, I prefer artists to propose the story, visual style and/or the scope of work they are interested in pursuing, and then the team and I take it from there and help them achieve their vision. Personally, I do my best work when I am interested and engaged, and whenever possible I want to extend these same conditions to the very talented people we work with.

To find out Tusitala’s projects and services, check out their website here!