A digital project in form and content, Avatar Secrets explores the complexities of human connection in the wired world, examining the evolving nature of community, relationships, empathy and interdependence in the real world, and the digital frontier.
Developed exclusively for the iPad, Avatar Secrets provides a sophisticated glimpse into the future of documentary programming, combining stunning 2.5D illustrations, video footage, animations, additional content and full interactivity.
Follow the story the same way you would in a traditional documentary — from start to finish. Or dig deeper to uncover extended sequences, expert interviews and more.
Featuring interviews with some of the most impressive minds in digital culture, including Vint Cerf (Google), Tiffany Shlain (Webby Awards), Jessica Hammer (Columbia University), John Hagel (Deloitte Center for the Edge), Stephen Gillett (Symantec), Jesse Hirsh (CBC), Dr. Sue Johnson (“Love Sense”) and others.
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The story begins in New York City. Ramona Pringle, an interactive producer, has it all — an exciting career, fabulous friends and a great boyfriend. But when her mom gets sick, Ramona decides to pack up her charmed life, and move home to Toronto. A short time later, she and her boyfriend break up. Back in her childhood bedroom, Ramona goes online. Venturing into the alluring world of MMOGs (massively multiplayer online games), Ramona creates her own avatar, Tristanova. In the process of levelling up, Ramona makes discoveries that change her life, and the way she sees the world.
In our fast paced digital world, it seems that the only thing that is truly guaranteed, is change.
Change can be scary. But it can also be empowering. With the Internet, we are all explorers in a new frontier, nomads crossing the horizon. And with that, comes the responsibility to make this new world into a place that we want to inhabit.
We hear over and over that we’re addicted to technology — and that technology is making us lonely. We see, all around us, people gazing into glowing screens, and that image confirms our worst fears: these digital tools are isolating us.
But are they? Or, is technology merely a scapegoat for a pattern of isolation that’s been growing for decades?
Avatar Secrets is my attempt at making sense of our quickly changing world, and exploring our changing relationship with technology, with each other, and with the world around us.
For generations now, what we’ve seen in the West is a push towards a culture of every-man-for-himself.
We’ve been pushed to be independent and self-sufficient. But is it sustainable? And it is making us happy?
Deep down, we know we are stronger together. As Dr. Sue Johnson reiterates, “We feel stronger knowing that there is someone who has our back.”
What I learned from my avatar on this unexpected journey of mine, is that the addictive allure of connective technologies, multiplayer games and social media, can reveal to us what we are looking for, what we’re longing for.
How do we learn from that, and create not only technologies that foster community, but a real world that rewards empathy, camaraderie, and trust?
That is the challenge that each one of us is faced with, in our ongoing quests.
— Ramona Pringle, Writer/Director, Avatar Secrets
Ramona Pringle, Bio:
Ramona Pringle is an interactive director and producer who specializes in digital multi-platform production. Avatar Secrets is her first interactive documentary, and the first feature-length documentary to be developed exclusively for the iPad. Named one of the “10 To Watch” of 2013 by entertainment trade publication, Playback, Ramona has developed and produced work for CBC, TVO, CTV and PBS where she worked as interactive producer on Frontline’s Digital Nation.
Ramona is a faculty member in narrative and digital media at Ryerson University’s RTA School of Media and the editor-in-chief of rdigitaLIFE, a blog exploring the relationship between people and technology. She is also a founding member of Ryerson University’s RTA Transmedia Centre. She has a Master’s Degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, and a BFA Honours Degree in Film & Video from York University.
Avatar Secrets is produced by Ramona Pringle Productions in association with TVO and financed with the assistance of the Canadian Media Fund (CMF) and the Bell Fund. Written and directed by Ramona Pringle. Creative direction by Michaele Jordana Berman, animation by Olney Atwell, and illustration by Michael Derrah.