A Short History of the Highrise: Innovative Short Films

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Highrise FilmThe New York Times’s Op-Docs and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) have debuted an immersive, interactive multimedia series on urban highrise living. The series, “A Short History of the Highrise,” had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival and launches today on NYTimes.com.

The series unfolds in four short, interactive films that viewers can navigate using touch commands like swipe, pinch, pull and tap. On desktop and laptop computers, users can mouse over features and click to navigate. Smartphone users can view the four films via the New York Times Mobile Web site.

The films feature rhyming narration to evoke a storybook, photographs brought to life with intricate animation, game play and touch-responsive videos that create exploratory experiences. The films are narrated by the Canadian musicians Feist and Cold Specks, as well as by Katerina Cizek, documentary filmmaker and HIGHRISE director, who wrote and directed the films.

A “making of” video accompanies the series and takes viewers inside The Times’s extensive photography archive which supplied many of the photos featured in the series.

The series is produced by Op-Docs, the Times editorial department’s forum for short, opinionated documentaries, and the National Film Board of Canada as part of the NFB’s ongoing HIGHRISE project, an Emmy Award-winning multi-year, many-media collaborative documentary experiment. “A Short History of the Highrise” will be available at www.highrise.nfb.ca in November.

The first three films (“Mud,” “Concrete” and “Glass”) draw from the Times’s Morgue. The fourth chapter (“Home”) is comprised of images submitted by the public, set to music.

The interactive elements are produced by the Times’s graphics team, under the direction of Ms. Cizek and the Times’s Jacqueline Myint, interactive art director and developer for the series, and by NFB senior producer Gerry Flahive and series executive producer and New York Times commissioning editor for opinion video Jason Spingarn-Koff.

Photo: A still from the film.

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