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Boris Etingof, interactive developer
Jake Duczynski, animator
Martin Peralta, sound designer
Curtis Kennedy, composer
Gina McKeon, producer
John-Paul Marin, executive producer
SBS Australia, project design and development/client

“A fantastic example of online interactive storytelling with a cultural message that needs to be heard—and, more important, spoken.” —juror Keri Elmsly

“The stark illustrations drew me in. Then I’m invited to use my microphone and practice words from Marra, one of Australia’s oldest indigenous languages. These elements—plus strong storytelling—connected me personally to something very foreign.” —juror Libby Bawcombe

Overview: When Angelina Joshua’s grandmother passed away, the world lost one of the only three remaining speakers of Marra, an indigenous Aboriginal language. Joshua realized that without the preservation of Marra, her culture would quickly disappear. Created with SBS, a national Australian public radio, online and television network, My Grandmother’s Lingo takes a look at how technology can help protect a language on the brink of extinction, and it also gives Joshua’s story a voice—from recovering from an unexpected brain aneurysm to her work in preserving Marra at the Ngukurr Language Centre, in Ngukurr, Northern Territory, Australia.

•My Grandmother’s Lingo features 8 videos, 1,000 images and 100 audio files.
•Visitors can progress through the story by providing voice input via a microphone. Voice recognition was made possible with JuliusJS.
•More than 60 JavaScript libraries and frameworks were used to create the site.

Comments by Boris Etingof and Gina McKeon:
How did this project compare with others you’ve worked on? “At SBS Online, our online documentaries have to be innovative—something we’ve never attempted before. Incorporating voice recognition into an online documentary was an important and rewarding challenge.”

Were there any specific demands that made the project easier or harder? “Consultation with Angelina Joshua and her elders in Angelina’s remote community in far northern Australia was an incredibly important step in the production of My Grandmother’s Lingo. Ensuring that the story accurately portrayed her life and community was essential. Central to this was how her story was to be represented through illustrator Jake Duczynski’s interpretation of her story. The consultation process took a substantial amount of production time and was demanding, but essential.”

What was the response to the site? “The response has been incredible—from both Australian and international communities. The site is the winner of the prestigious Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism: Multimedia Storytelling. The site also won FWA of the Day and Awwwards Site of the Day. We received positive feedback from the community at the center of the story, Ngukurr, from communities across Australia and from communities across the world, all facing the crisis of trying to preserve their indigenous languages.”


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