With a user base in excess of 52 million blogs it’s easy to imagine that tumblr could happily coast along doing what it does without feeling the need to diversify from its core offering (although the recent advertising flipflop may suggest otherwise). Unlike the introduction of ads however, the launch of tumblr Storyboard — dubbed as ‘Tales from behind the dashboard‘ — is likely to have its users vying to be included in the community features blog and produce some decent documentary shorts along the way too.
As great as infographics and pomeranian interviews may be, it’s the films which caught my eye. Of the three released to date, Confessions of a Michael Stipe, Things We Saw from His Cab, and Inside the New York Times ‘Lively Morgue’, I’d say they have one miss, a decent effort and a hit on their hands.
Confessions of a Michael Stipe directed by K.Ryan Jones is a pretty straight forward interview piece which feels less documentary and more celebrity endorsement; with cutaways to panned stills of Stipe in his REM days, his current sculpture work and the bits of inspiration he posts to his blog.
Jon Groat helms Things We Saw from His Cab, which does a nice job of evoking the collage panel style of New York taxi driver Max Cohen’s blog, mixing footage from the ride-along interview with shots of Cohen at his camera lens and previous shots he’s featured online.
Inside the New York Times ‘Lively Morgue’ is by far the best of the three. Created in partnership with radio station WNYC, we’re given a guided tour through the New York Times’ clippings archive/photo library, lovingly referred to as ‘The Morgue’ and old enough that ‘space program’ is categorised under ‘rockets’ as that term came first. Director K.Ryan Jones has said that they had enough footage for a 15 minute film, but at a svelte four and a half minutes, we never get the chance to feel bored or trapped within its basement location.
Given the widely diverse spectrum of blogs within the tumblr ecosystem and the democratised method for submitting story suggestions to Storyboard – users simply write a tumblr blog post and tag it ‘storyboard’ – it’ll be interest to see if the video output will remain restricted to its interview/documentary beginnings, hopefully not.