Storytelling Tools – April 28 Brown Media Talk

Storytelling is essential for communicating ideas. When they are well told, stories help us make sense of information, appreciate cultural or societal differences, and imagine living in entirely different worlds. Audio/visual stories in the form of radio programs, audiobooks, podcasts, television, movies or animation are especially powerful by providing a rich multisensory experience. Technological advances have made it easy to capture stories using microphones and cameras readily available in our mobile devices. The raw media, however, rarely tells a compelling story.

The best storytellers carefully compose, filter, edit and highlight raw media to produce an engaging piece. Yet, the software tools they employ (e.g. Pro Tools, Premiere, Final Cut Pro, Maya, etc.) force tediously low-level work—selecting, filtering, cutting and transitioning between audio/video frames. While these provide flexible and precise control over the look and sound of the final result, they are notoriously difficult to learn and accessible primarily to experts. In this talk, Prof. Agrawala will present recent projects that aim to significantly reduce the effort required to edit and produce high-quality audio/visual stories.

Maneesh Agrawala is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He works on visualization, computer graphics and human computer interaction. His focus is on investigating how cognitive design principles can be used to improve the effectiveness of visual displays. The goals of this work are to discover the design principles and then instantiate them in both interactive and automated design tools. He received an Okawa Foundation Research Grant in 2006, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship and an NSF CAREER Award in 2007, a SIGGRAPH Significant New Researcher Award in 2008, and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2009. He will assume directorship of the Brown Institute of Media Innovation at Stanford in Fall 2015.