UNC J School Video: How Water Powers Life

UNC J School Video: How Water Powers Life


MONDAY, AUGUST 06, 2012 – from UNC News
Journalism students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have launched an interactive film exploring the human connection with water from life to death at 100gallons.org.

The project, named “100 Gallons” for the amount of water the average American uses on a daily basis, examines water topics across the United States, including the New York sewer system, controversial natural gas drilling in Ohio, bottling rainwater in Texas, the search for water in space and other topics.

“100 Gallons” is a continuation of the school’s award-winning Powering a Nation project that provides energy news through innovative storytelling. Powering a Nation was launched in 2009 with startup funding from News21, a national initiative of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to train a new generation of journalists capable of reshaping the news industry. “100 Gallons” was also funded by the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Powering a Nation has won more than 45 national and international awards, including last year’s South by Southwest Interactive award, recognition from World Press Photo as one of the top three interactive productions in the world and a Grantham Award of Special Merit for environmental journalism.

Laura Ruel, UNC journalism professor and Powering a Nation executive producer, said the goal of the project is to open the viewer’s eyes to how much we depend on water to power our lives.

“The project creates a visual experience that informs viewers of the universality of our relationship with water,” Ruel said. “The site’s main video is unique in the sense that is artistically filmed while adhering to journalistic principles with no staged shots.”

Users can choose to experience “100 Gallons” as an interactive film, navigating through the opening video to access content that includes videos, graphics, text articles and more. Or the viewer can choose to watch the opening video as a whole before exploring the in-depth content through an interactive mosaic.

“Fractured,” a video and text story, explores hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, through the eyes of Christine Moore, an Ohioan who fears the water on her farm has been contaminated by the controversial natural gas drilling practice. In “A Beautiful Waste,” viewers follow Steve Duncan, an urban explorer in New York City, through the sewer system. “100 Gallons” also features video stories about the only man in America licensed to bottle rainwater; a Native American tribe in Washington whose sacred river is being undammed; and Las Lomitas, a development outside of Austin where residents have no running water.

Motion graphics and interactive graphics within “100 Gallons” present facts and statistics about water in accessible ways, allowing viewers to visualize different volumes of water, calculate water costs around the world and estimate the weight of clouds. The project contains text pieces that address the scientific aspects of water, including a question and answer piece with water experts on the current state of water, a look at the search for water and life on other planets, and explanations about why pure water tastes bad and rain smells the way it does.

“100 Gallons” was completed in 10 weeks by a team of nine UNC students and recent graduates. Students traveled all over the country to gather footage and conduct interviews, providing a national perspective on the topic of water. Students also completed programming and design of the interactive website.

The launch of “100 Gallons” coincides with “Water in Our World,” a two-year UNC academic initiative to encourage the interdisciplinary study of water.

For more information, including a Powering a Nation backgrounder and awards, high-resolution photos and the “100 Gallons” trailer, visit our press room atpoweringanation.org/index.php/100gallonspress.html.