Responses by Bart Marable, founder/designer, Terra Incognita Productions
Background: At its heart, this site asks a simple question: What was it like to be in Dallas on November 22, 1963? While the assassination of John F. Kennedy is one of those landmark global events, for many citizens of Dallas, it was also a very personal experience. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza has an incredible collection of personal photos, home movies and oral histories that give a first-person perspective to history. These unique items formed the heart of the site’s story.
Highlights: We built the entire project using Storycrafter, our studio’s cloud-based storytelling platform. It integrates a range of web services into a common system for creating stories—such as maps, timelines and slideshows. The museum uploaded its high-resolution digital assets, including the captions and acknowledgement data. The museum helped us position the different locations on the base map. And, since the entire project is dynamic, the museum can continue to add additional content over time.
Challenges: Creating an accurate base map. Since the motorcade route was our story’s central feature, we needed the streets to be accurate to 1963. We relied on the terrific Mapbox platform as our mapping service, but of course, the map data reflects the streets as they are today. So, we located city maps and United States Geological Survey investigations from the early 1960s, and we used them as reference sources to create a more period-accurate street network.
Navigational structure: Since the motorcade route is the unifying feature of the story, it became central for our navigation system. Users can easily follow the unfolding story using very simple forward/backward navigation. Users can also take control and explore the locations in a non-linear way. While we knew that a map would be the primary visual element, we also wanted it to be more dramatic than the standard top-down map view. That’s why we used a more cinematic approach, moving the map in three dimensions, also positioning the camera for the most dramatic effects.
Technical features: We believe that while technology changes, stories abide. Over the last 25 years, we’ve seen too many great stories locked away in obsolete software or hardware. So, when we built Storycrafter, we made sure that the content (the story) was separated from the presentation (the technology). One immediate benefit is that the same story can take many different forms, from a website to a touchscreen kiosk. But in the long run, it means that as technology continues to evolve, the story can gracefully evolve with it.