100 Gallons -Multimedia Critique

screenshot of the multimedia project “100 gallons”

“100 Gallons” is the large multimedia project that won the gold at the CPOY this year’s competition.  The project made by a group of journalism students from North Carolina University is a collection of stories and data about water. The goal of the project is to answer to basic questions about water, such as: “How much water do we have on the planet? Are we running out of water?Where does our water come from? How much water is available for us to use? How does water move? What effect we have on our drinking water?” As simple as may sound these questions were identified as unknown fact by the  most of the American residents. So, the journalism students from North Carlolina try not only to answer to these questions by providing a lot of data, maps, graphics in an interactive way, but they also tell stories that revolve around “water”.

I love this project because it is so rich in content and still very accessible to the user. The interactive interface and webdesign made me as a user to really bond with their goal and to think about the importance of water. Moreover, when I first visited the website of the project, the video that plays as a trailer of the project got my attention and made me want to know more. There are several reasons why I like the home page and the presentation the presentation of the project.

The colors they picked for the background of the page go well together with the “water”.  Also, the graphics are nice, the waves from the background. The skin that they use for the slide bar for the video has a nice design and it incorporates the video in the page.

About the content, the short video from the very beginning  has beautiful images and the edit is very clear and nicely synchronized  with the audio. In addition to that, the white bullets from the slider that show how fast the video is loading, they have a second use. If you click on them, a box info will pop up over the video. They work almost as captions for pictures. The short intro video reminded me about “Life in a day” documentary because of the way it was shot but also because of the rapid sequence of images that unfold in front of the viewer’s eye.

After the intro ends, you have a kaleidoscope of stories. Multiple multimedia individual stories about people and water. You can click on the thumbnails and the story will play, plus they provide also a short story summary using text.

What I also like at this website is the fact that everything, all the content is on the same webpage. The navigation is so simple. The user doesn’t need to go back and forth on this website. Everything is packed in a very nice slideshow.

From all the stories they provide, I can talk a little bit about the one named “Fractured” which is a story about a woman who had to leave her house together with her family because her town became an exploitation zone for gas. Fracking is the methos used by the drilling company to get the gas out of the ground, it is a controversially method because it pollutes the soil but specially the water.

The story is very powerful because you can see the drama of this woman. The visuals are nice, the sound is great, the edit is nice. After you watch this story, you wan to see more. It hooks the viewer.

Overall, I really think that this is a good example about how a multimedia group project should look. It is clearly a huge amount of work and it takes a lot of human resources and time to build up this type of project. But the team is not at their first project. “100 gallons” is part of a bigger project started by the journalism students from North Carolina, called “Powering a nation”.

“100 gallons” is the average amount of  water that an American resident uses per day. “100 gallon” for me is a project that makes me appreciate water, makes me love the water even more than I loved it before.

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