Over the past month I've written two scripts for Harvard Business Publishing for videos to be used in distance education for business professionals. Video is a relatively simple form of multimedia, but surprisingly effective despite its limited bells and whistles, and the process is pretty simple: you interview someone, write a script, revise it, and you're done!
I've also returned to the About.com Autism site, where new owners are upping the multimedia bang for the buck. Our "administrative dashboard" allows us to actively sort through the most popular articles, select thumbnails of images, create blogs and newsletters -- while also interacting with a digital coach whose job is to remind us to add more links, more copy, more descriptors, or more "oomph" to our work.
At the same time, I recently developed interactive scenarios for a professional online course for employees at a major cruise line. Should Mary say "yes" to paying for help in obtaining international permits? A conversation with her co-worker helps to clarify her options and steer her in the right direction. Scenario-based learning is closer to what most people think of as "multimedia" -- interactive, with choices to be made by the user -- and hopefully imitates a thought process closely enough to simulate real life.
Perhaps most extraordinary, for me, has been the experience of getting involved with the "multimedia-ization" of a high school textbook for a very large, international educational publisher. This project includes video, audio, interactive quizzes, interactive galleries, multi-layered maps with hot spots, and more. To make the experience more complex, our team is working with other contractors in other countries, using four different online authoring and database systems, and focusing on guidelines from four different states.
Yes, my head is spinning -- but that's the life of a freelancer. More significantly, I am finding that work I could have done in hours is now taking days or even weeks -- because it requires a huge learning curve in the form of training on new authoring systems, communication systems, and guidelines that relate, not to writing, but to technology. It also requires image research, captioning, and meta-labeling.
Today's freelance writer is occasionally called on to simply... write. But multimedia isn't about the prose: it's about the experience. Not just for the end user, but for all of us!