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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:  October 28, 2010

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0  License



XML Coding Of Dramatic Structure For Visualization
Gabriele Scali, SPACE S.p.A., Italy
Graham Howard, System Simulation Ltd, United Kingdom

Session: Storytelling

Every work of storytelling, play, film, novel, opera, musical, is characterized by the development of a plot in which characters embody certain roles, establish certain relationships, evolve their feelings, generate and get affected by events. It is a world populated by several possible levels of interpretation often difficult to follow. The delivery of narration-intensive media becomes everyday more common on the Internet where the Web provides a more interruptible and fragmented way of interacting with them, making their comprehension even more difficult than usual. We present an XML Schema defining a language (XNDL XML Narrative Description Language) dedicated to describe the time-based evolution of roles, relationships, events and consequences within a narration.

An XNDL file can be fed into a'plot visualization and discovery tool' able to render a graphical representation of it through vector graphics, where stylized shapes, colors, size, arrows etc. all concur to simplify and explain what's going on. Why did that character act like this? Wasn't she supposed to be friend with this other, why are they fighting now? And how's she feeling, uh I see, she's marked as'betrayed' Did I miss something? And what's the relationship between those others: are they friends, lovers, is one of them taking advantage of the other?

Such a tool can be used stand-alone or even be synchronized with the timed delivery of the media it refers to. There are several scenarios we foresee for both the Schema and the tool, from the obvious educational ones, to the cross-exploration possibilities a codified version of the plots would provide (how Verdi's La Traviata, Dumas' La dame aux camellias and the Greek myth of Orpheus relate to the movie Moulin Rouge?), to being provided as a stream of information on iTV channels.