Digital Techniques applied to Traditional Media

Digital media needn’t be all-digital. The new tools should allow us to use the old tools more conveniently and quickly. It would be hard to top J M Barrie’s 1904 stage play of Peter Pan for audience engagement. Tinker Bell was a mere lantern beam flashed around the stage. Yet, in the tradition of British Pantomime audiences hissed and booed at the villain and wept hysterically “I believe in fairies” to save the poisoned Tinker Bell. They still do. The video below uses a reading from a Librivox volunteer ( as audio and the traditional light beam to portray Tinker Bell:

A well-written story like Peter Pan clearly can work across old and new media.  I make no claim that the visual added much to the nice audio track. Indeed, the trick would seem to be not to drown it with embellishments. Points to look for and discuss:

  • Relative importance of script v media.
  • Blended media – using digital tools to speed production of old media.
  • Shadows instead of direct images 
  • Audio and text versions as powerful in themselves.
  •  The role of imagination.
  •  Selective adding of multimedia such as sound effects.
  • Simple props – plastic hook, hat, bottle and flashlight
  •  Building of suspense in drama.
  •  Getting us to ‘care about’ a character’s fate.
  •  One-man operation – no helpers; one person plays all characters and flashes the light.
  •  Use of separate audio track instead of live audio.

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