An experiment in interactive storytelling
Miner’s Walk is an interactive documentary exploring the lives of Indonesian miners who trek the steep slopes of the Ijen Crater in search of sulphur.
In recent times the Ijen Crater has transformed into a destination of increased tourism and contentious mining practices, leading it to become one of the few places in the world where miners, the sulphur industry, and tourism exist side-by-side.
Miner’s Walk is an experiment in interactive storytelling; a merging of short & longform video and user experience design. It grants viewers exclusive access to the miner’s world, following the miners on the precarious journey into the Ijen Crater as they collect and carry sulphur rock. It is available to view at: www.minerswalk.com
June 2015 – June 2017
Director, Editor, Cinematographer & Interactive Designer
Interactive Digital Developer: Martyn Rees
Field Producer & Cinematographer: Niken Pamikatsih
Miner’s Walk was filmed on-location in the area Kawah Ijen area of East Java, Indonesia, in June 2015. All footage of the Ijen crater, the backmount footage with the miners, and all people interviews were gathered over 6 days with the assistance of members of the local community.
The longform footage that follows the miner’s journey into the crater was achieved by attaching a makeshift backmount & small camera to individuals as they entered the Ijen Crater. This footage was later stabilised and edited into the three different miner journeys.
Interviews from the project were intended to provide insights into world of the Ijen Crater miners that may otherwise not be represented. These video interviews include conversations with the miners themselves, as well as people from the sulphur factory, tourism industry and environmental centres.
Shooting on location
Miner’s Walk is fully responsive website uniquely designed and developed with interactive HTML5 video. Central to the interactive experience is the the long-form ‘backmount’ footage where users can follow behind an individual miner’s journey into the crater. This backmount footage branches into shorter thematic or portrait documentaries if the user selects a given video prompt.
The interactive approach to Miner’s Walk was heavily influenced by previous experiences of designing for an interactive TV format. Mainly the emphasis on large immersive image displays, timely transitions and selective interactions a user can perform.
Enhancements with audioscapes and looped videos are designed to continue a sense of user immersion as users pass from the initial onboarding screens, through to following a miner’s journey and onto individual videos.
Responsive and immersive
The technical approach to a Miner’s Walk addressed the challenge of building interactive elements into a HTML5 video space. As such, leveraging an existing video platform such as Vimeo, allowed Miner’s Walk to integrate into the Vimeo API to selectively implement basic video functionality without necessarily adopting the UI video player chrome.
Other solutions were developed to address the challenge of large video load for users entering the website. This was particularly the case for users viewing Miner’s Walk via mobile devices with inconsistent network connectivity. One of the solutions for this challenge was to produce an alternative experience for users unable to access the full video experience. This alternative solution was to create a series of video screenshots of the backmount footage that appeared in sequence to simulate a video-playing experience, without actually ‘playing’ a video.
A notable consideration for the website’s front-end development was its attention to visual detail as it is displays responsively across mobile devices and up to desktop. For example, the ‘hero’ images of each shortform documentary video scales responsively in order to maintain a dynamic image composition across variously-sized devices.
This project’s content was only possible through the connections to and assistance of the miners featured in Miner’s Walk. Similarly, the collaboration between Design and Development of the Miner’s Walk website was fundamental. From early ‘proof of concept’ technical experiments through to refinement of visual & interactive user interface design, the production of this project was built on consistent and evolving interdisciplinary collaboration.