May 2015

Book of Ella Ch. 2: Story

, art director at Animat Habitat

A story communicates an idea. A story relates another perspective. A story to a people makes life that much easier to comprehend. Stories help us to learn context, to unearth hidden meanings, and to see patterns in our lives. Stories remind us of where we started and of how we are all connected. Stories can travel through centuries in time, and – to a people – exist as a common point of reference. We use stories to examine problems in our community and to exercise constraints of our technology. We are inspired by stories. We change behavior based on stories. Telling stories is the most important thing that we do to communicate with ourselves. Storytelling is what makes us human. We want to hear a story, and we want to be known in story. We tell a story everyday with our lives.

Story is all around us; it's everywhere; it's your life. Whatever happens to you throughout the day, throughout the week: that's part of it—that's part of story. How you live – and who you are – is part of the process. — Rick del Carmen. (2016) The Bancroft Brothers Animation Podcast, e/64: ‘The Bancroft Bros. talk with the Del Carmen Bros: Animation in the Family.’ Creative Talent Network (CTN) Burbank, California

If the part you play in story is unclear, ‘keep looking, and don't settle.’ In the words of Steve Jobs in the 2005 commencement address to Stanford University: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet: keep looking, and don't settle.” Story can also be entertainment. Story can be an escape: happily forever after. A story exists in its medium, and nonetheless the medium manifests a window back into our world. The story of White Elephant is likewise a reflection of the way our world once was – and in part still is – wild.

Our Story

Story at Animat Habitat is however written in context of challenges that people must take on today and in future—in a moment in human history when we have clear cause and effect on the state of the natural world. We the people enact our story, together. (Action!) Saving the wild places and the animals that live in them is a story that we must all want to be a part of; it's the story that Animat Habitat is established to tell: chapter one invites people to change the way we look at wildlife.

White Elephant app: ‘Journey map’. (2015) © Animat Habitat

White Elephant journey map. (2015)

Companion App Menu

A preview of a menu design for the companion app for White Elephant shares a bit about its story. Sixteen-plus pages in the White Elephant comic book are designed to interact with the companion app, and are indexed in a menu: a navigation system in the app as an alternate to flipping through pages. The menu is designed to communicate all pages of the story within the form factors of Apple iPad and iPhone, as well as to share the screen space with the comic book artwork. This version of the menu artwork is previewed in full on the portfolio website of Mai El-Awini, developer of the companion app for White Elephant.

Mai, contributing developer at Animat Habitat — We wanted a way to jump to any page at any time without having to flip-through. This menu had to be easily accessible yet have little intrusion over the content. We also wanted it to fit our visual style, to feel as part of the story rather than just a menu system. This is when we came up with the “journey” map. It's a pull-down menu with shortcuts to pages in the comic book, which represent key points in the story. The menu is designed to mimic the iOS experience that users already know well. It's hidden in its default state, and a simple downward swipe anywhere on the screen brings it down. That leaves the entire screen space to show off the comic book art.

Mai has shared the making of a native iOS-style slider, like the menu for the White Elephant on Tumblr.


Behind the scenes:

Register for membership behind the scenes of White Elephant.