Assessment Task 3- Convergent Website
‘The Boat’ produced by Kylie Boltin from SBS is a contemporary convergent website consisting of an interactive graphic novel. The graphics within this digital journalism are illustrated by Vietnamese-Australian artist Matt Huynh who captures emotion through caricature. This intriguing short story allows readers to cognisant how privileged they are to live such a picturesque lifestyle as they are exploited to the hardships faced by asylum seekers.
Interview with Matt Huynh
The Boat is based on Nam Le’s venture as a 16-year-old refugee sent off alone by his parents after the fall of Saigon (Meares, Joel 2015). As the story develops readers are open to clicking archival links sending them to diverse illustrations of vulnerable and desperate refugees, including images of Le himself. Le’s journey is explored through an array of powerful imagery which dive into his characteristics and hardships.
Huynh states “I wanted to keep the materials honest and the communication direct” (Meares, Joel 2015) as he attempts to produce a human element within his illustrations. The illustrations are produced using a bamboo calligraphy brush, alongside Sumi ink. Huynh believes these mediums allow the audience to follow the brush line and intentions of the story. The integration of technology and art is prevalent in the convergent website as SBS has successfully composed Huynh’s 300 graphics consisting of animations, FX, and layering to create an engaging reader experience.
This interactive graphic novel is recognised as an integral experience concerning the Vietnamese diaspora. SBS has strategically formatted the novel with options of auto scroll to allow the reader to consume the information at their own pace. This way readers can gather the full emotional connection between text and illustrations. Alongside the illustrations, the interactive novel also portrays user experience through the swaying motion of the text and images. This movement links to the drastic movement experienced on a refugee boat in high seas.
Together with the work of Matt Huynh, the audio sensation of this story was produced by Sam Petty. Petty articulates “I’ve had to break up what I do into very specific moments that relate to a particular drawing, extend the mood for as long as someone lingers and provide atmospheres that blend into one another” (George, Sandy 2015). This statement articulates the desire to portray the claustrophobic atmosphere of being at sea as he considers the viewers mood, literacy, and curiosity when conducting the audio. Petty’s objective when conducting the audio was not to make it sound too complex, but rather to use simple symbolic sounds with a subtle evocative nature (2015).
The creative archival imagery produced by Matt Huynh and the addition of sound effects produced by Sam Petty have successfully told the story of Nam Le in an innovative manner. The menacing audio alongside the stylised monochrome illustrations create a multimodal work incorporating user engagement (11246776dl16, 2016). In this way SBS have formed an appealing story which captivates its audience through the modern use of digital journalism.
Youtube Clip of Nam Le reading his book:
11246776dl16, 2016, Immersive: Multimodality in Matt Huynh’s Adaptation of Nam Le’s ‘The Boat’, Fakr, weblog post, October 4 2016, viewed 22 October, <https://11246776dl16.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/immersive-multimodality-in-matt-huynhs-adaptation-of-nam-les-the-boat/>
George, Sandy 2015, The sound and vision of The Boat, SBS, Article, September 23 2015, viewed 18 October, <http://www.sbs.com.au/movies/article/2015/04/27/sound-and-vision-boat>
Meares, Joel 2015, SBS’s interactive graphic novel The Boat brings Vietnamese refugee experience to life, Sydney Morning Herald, Article, April 28 2015, viewed 18 October, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/sbss-interactive-graphic-novel-the-boat-brings-vietnamese-refugee-experience-to-life-20150428-1muwo7.html>