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Before there were words

Storytelling has been around as long as people have been on earth. Around the world, stories have been shared in every culture to entertain, educate, explain values and morals, and record history. Before there were words, ancient humans drew pictures on cave walls as a way to communicate. The earliest cave paintings date back 40,000 years and were found inside caves in Spain.

Storytelling as performance art

When formal languages began to emerge, people told stories orally around campfires and in makeshift theaters. For example, The City Dionysia was a festival that began in the 6th Century, BCE. It was held in Athens, Greece in honor of the god Dionysus Eleuthereus. The festival was a major event that many people traveled from all over Greece to attend. The festival included performances of some the greatest plays in Greek history

The advent of mass communication

For many years, storytelling was an act of writing. People copied stories by hand and shared them with one another. But it wasn’t until Johannes Guttenberg invented the printing press in 1439 that storytelling got its most significant boost. Now, stories could be reproduced more quickly and in larger quantities, giving people greater access to information.

Capturing a moment in time

The concept of multimedia storytelling first emerged with the introduction of the camera. The first camera that was small and portable enough to be practical for photography was envisioned in 1685; however, it was 150 years later before modern photography was possible. Although photos first appeared in newspapers in the mid-1850s, many journalists thought they were just a passing fad. Little did they know that photos would remain one of the most powerful storytelling tools for more than 100 years.

The power of moving pictures

The first motion picture cameras were invented in the 1890s, and soon after came the establishment of the first film production companies. The films of the 1890s were less than a minute long, and until 1927 they were produced without sound. In 1951, the first video tape recorder captured live images from television cameras. And in 1956, video recorders were sold for $50,000! Today, you can shoot videos with your phone!

Storytelling in the digital age

Storytelling has continued to evolve with new inventions like the radio, television and computers. And now, we have many different ways to tell and share stories, from audio and video, to photographs and information graphics. Put simply, multimedia storytelling combines several story forms – such as words, video, audio, photos and graphics – to tell a single story. And the best multimedia stories explore how different parts of a story are best told, regardless of format.

What is multimedia storytelling?

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