BEDTIME is an interactive video experience that seeks to imitate bedtime rituals and our experiences with digital tools and media at large during restful periods. Taking up concepts from the digital humanities, the project asks its participants to consider the relationship between digital activities, distraction, and the necessity of sleep that is so often delayed by our engagements with the digital.
The relationship between screen time and bedtime is constantly examined by scientists, but extended engagement with the digital is unavoidable for many professionals, students, and the population in general. By taking a light-heartened and aesthetic approach to the activities undertaken before falling asleep, the viewer of BEDTIME will experience a multimedia narrative of distraction that directs the viewer to a final stage of shutting down and turning in.
For this prototype there are three “bedtime stories” that are married to particular sequences that the viewer may select. The viewer does not select a particular story, rather the story is meant to come forth as part of the viewing experience. The sleep-themed “stories” include 2 poems and one non-fiction excerpt: “Long Long sleep” by Emily Dickinson, “To Sleep” by John Keats, and an excerpt from “Bright Eyed” by R.M. Vaughan.
Further development of BEDTIME would expand the stories on two fronts: by providing a more varied narratological approach (different voices) and by expanding the stories from literary examples of a coherent theme to visitor-supplied personal narratives on sleep, sleeplessness, and rest.
Part of BEDTIME’s objective is to create a digital environment focused on bringing healthy practices of self-care and sleep into one’s digital routine: be it conscious e-mail practices, self-aware social media, web browsing, etc. Part of a restful digital experience as intended by BEDTIME is the selection of thematically consistent subject matter and relaxing music to accompany the visual material.
Ideally, those who engage with BEDTIME will use the site as a place to transition from screen time to bed time, maybe moving from a digital media experience to the analog. BEDTIME’s library of sleep-appropriate material would grow based on participant suggestions and contributions, and the site could serve as a resource for those looking for audiovisual material that relax the viewer.
BEDTIME assumes the genre of interactive video as a way to imitate our ways of engaging with media before bed in a strictly audio-visual setting. Much of the scholarship on interactive video is dated pre-1990s before popular video websites and online media experiences took over the theme of “interactivity.” The term itself is vague, as all media consumption requires some aspect of the participant’s agency. For instance, the comparison between the viewing experience of an interactive video and the process of reading a book draws attention to the fact that all the information of a book is always available (Tafler 28) and it is the reader’s job to access it.
As David Tafler writes, “self-determined sequencing may be optional but it is and will always be an important part of the experience of the literary medium” (28). The purpose of interactive video, as emphasized by comparing the interactive viewing experience to that of reading a book, is to offer a video-watching experience that is dictated by the viewer’s engagement with the medium.
As Eric E Smith notes, the definition of “interactive video” may vary, however the different definitions share in common the fact that “interactive video is the use of a video delivery system designed in such a way that it will respond to choices made by the individual user. These choices may be spontaneous on the part of the user or the may be prompted by the system” (2).
BEDTIME asks its participant to choose bedtime activities, but things like music choice or story choice are defined by the editorial choices that went into the creation of the project. Similarly, options like “bring me a guest” may be selected by the viewer without the viewer knowing that the video was about to show a clip of a cat on the bed. In that sense, BEDTIME offers the viewer some agency in the narrative but the editor has already dictated content and the end result, especially since all video trails lead the viewer to the goodnight sequence.
Smith, Eric E. “Interactive Video: An Examination of Use and Effectiveness.” Journal of Instructional Development 10.2 (1987): 2-10. JSTOR. Web. 8 Apr. 2016.
Tafler, David. “The Circular Text: Interactive Video, Reception, and Viewer Participation.” Journal of Film and Video 40.3, The Role of the Reader (1988): 27-45. JSTOR. Web. 10 Apr. 2016.
Video material for BEDTIME was captured using a Canon DSLR rigged to the ceiling with less-than-sophisticated equipment. The footage was ingested and processed using Adobe’s Premiere Pro in preparation for the making of an interactive product on Vidzor. Audio material was captured by a simple microphone using Garage Band software.
In order to turn the video from a simple watchable experience to one wherein the viewer could dictate the outcome of the narrative, footage was imported onto and processed by Vidzor’s free software found online at http://www.vidzor.com. Vidzor promotes itself as a platform for interactive videos applicable in the fields of education, ecommerce, gaming, business to business, and advertising. For this project, I used Vidzor’s free version of the software which allows a good amount of editorial freedom but a limited amount of plays (for this prototype, the video may only be played 150 times before the site demands payment). For projects such as SIPI looking to expand their audiovisual capacities, I would recommend using Vidzor: it offers helpful and simple in-suite editing options such as the easy addition of text, a no-coding-required approach to interactive video, the ability to add social media tags for sharing, the ability to add maps.
Additionally, the user can set the videos to loop in Vidzor so there are some helpful editing tricks that one doesn’t need to do before importing the footage to the site. The amount of editorial freedom and the easy drag-and-drop applications of Vidzor make it a recommended tool for producers looking for ways to add interactivity to their material. That being said, Vidzor’s editing layout offers a linear approach, which is fair enough considering the high level of complexity that nodal video editing software would demand. However, part of this approach means that no master map is generated within the editing process and must be mapped out separately by the editor.
The website is hosted by Wix, another drag-and-drop platform with much editorial freedom in font choices and style. Wix was chosen over WordPress because of its flexibility regarding images and visual content rather than written content. With some light coding, BEDTIME was embedded in the page rather than supplied by a link.