The Story of Narrasys: The Narrative Systems Co. Inc. was founded by Jeff Larsen seven years ago around the birth of the iPad and YouTube and what they were indicating about video as the emerging narrative medium. Jeff recruited Bill Snyder, a video and media systems developer and programmer, to start building the Telling Story platform, and Kevin Johnson to support him with business development, strategy, and sales. We looked at e-books and early ed-tech applications on the iPad and were underwhelmed. The way the iPad handled video and mixed media inspired us to design a transmedia narrative application where video led the story and other media types like images, slides, readings, and web links carried the story deeper. Statistics coming out of YouTube at that time showed that in a 30-day period, more video was being uploaded to YouTube than ABC, CBS, and NBC produced in 60 years.

We deduced that video was beginning to overtake text as the base communications narrative. In the Telling partnered with the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business to prototype a business sustainability case for the iPad, documenting a progressive sustainability company called Namaste Solar. ITT programmed the first video & transmedia app in the then young IOS App store called Telling Story, an app that started with video as the baseline narrative and other media types pinned to the video timeline that created deep-dive content relevant to the core storyline.

We found e-books still anchored to text-based narratives with interludes of video showing up to break up the monotony of text. Another e-learning trend that was emerging was the automated production of volumes of fixed-camera, droning, talking-head video, a long-form lecture capture methodology defying everything known about effective learning theory.

The innovation we wanted to explore on mobile media devices like the iPad and the new Android tablets was a new form of integrated media storytelling. With his NYU film school training and integrated media design experience, Jeff believed the core narrative would be improved if it were professionally produced like documentary film, with multiple cameras and professional lighting and sound. Part and parcel of designing engaging film, our editors and animators converted parts of lectures that were conceptual into motion graphics and animation visualizations, while also utilizing b-roll, similar to what you see on PBS. Informed by cognitive research done by neurobiologists like John Medina and his New York Times best seller,  Brain Rules, In the Telling designed narratives to be modular, short, and engaging; past 9 minutes,attention spans drop precipitously. However, short-form film shouldn’t mean short-shrifting content depth.

The iPad was a new integrated media device designed for interacting with content versus passively watching it. Kevin and Jeff’s histories building online companies like eCollege, Cooperative Media, Coursenet, and Prentice Hall’s New Media Group, and Bill’s experience designing and back-end coding of digital video systems were pointing away from tired e-book or lecture-capture product models and towards integrated media storytelling that provoked curiosity and interactivity with deeper-divecontent. In the Telling coined this integrated media content formula “documentary instruction.”

The emphasis of the Telling Story platform was engagement: short-form, documentary-style film, pregnant with opportunities to delve into other media types along the story’s timeline. In the Telling designed its solutions to marry what’s great about video, e-books, and LMSs into a single application for any internet-connected device. The platform was designed to launch from anything: websites, LMSs, MOOCs, emails, social media, or blogs. An ethos of supporting content developers to create integrated media that doesn’t get trapped by an LMS, MOOC, or other delivery platform has been core to our technology strategy. Authoring rich media instruction, marketing, or communications takes design effort, time, and work, and there’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to extract that content from the walled gardens of an LMS or MOOC platform.

The prototyping of Namaste: Solar, the first interactive video caseware product on an iPad and Android tablet led to many partnerships producing and delivering thousands of documentary instruction episodes for blended, flipped,and online courses; publisher courseware and caseware products; professional development and training; and a myriad of digital storytelling marcom projects, such as enrollment, product and content marketing, transmedia blogging, and social media storytelling on a web browser on any internet-connected device. Following our start with native IOS, Android, and Mac OS Apps, HTML5 evolved far enough for us to take the platform solely to the cloud as a SaaS running on any device with a browser.

Fast-forward from when In the Telling started to now: 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute! Almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day. In an average month, eight out of ten 18- to 49-year-olds watch YouTube. Cisco Systems forecasts that 75% of all mobile internet traffic will be video by 2020.

In the Telling has helped many of our clients and partners build video and media production operations and studios that are generating terabytes of video on a monthly basis.  In response to these titanic, global shifts towards video and integrated media centric communications and publishing, we upgraded, commercialized, and launched the Narrative Platform in 2016, which consists of Narrative Producer (the cloud-based, integrated media storytelling authoring tools), Narrative Player (the integrated media player that launches from emails, websites, blogs, LMSs, MOOCs), and Narrative Editor (transmedia customization tools for instructors when Narrative Player is launched from an LMS).

Now In the Telling: The Transmedia Studio is the managed services division of Narrasys: The Narrative Systems Company, a cloud-based SaaS for integrated media storytelling in education, training, marcom, and online institutes. The managed services, In the Telling, provides have has expanded to Narrative Producer authoring training, media asset management design, consulting and integration, and à la carte media production and documentary instruction design services.

The tidal wave of democratized video and media production that has ensued since In the Telling started is driving a commensurate demand for professional-level,scalable tools for designing, managing, packaging, and delivering integrated media narratives for education, training, and marcom. Meeting those evolving demands with an agile, cloud-based integrated media publishing platform for instructional designers, learning and development practitioners, and communicators and marketers is the business of Narrasys: The Narrative Systems Company.

Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson

SVP of Partnerships and Business Development

Co-Founder, Evangelist. Kevin has been an ed-tech intrapreneur and entrepreneur for nearly 20 years. He helped found the first New Media group at Pearson, and was part of the executive team at eCollege when it went public, and a co-founder of In The Telling and Narrasys