New Partnership Announcement: Opal

I know it seems as though we are gallivanting through the parks, taking pretty pictures and enjoying every minute of our adventure without a care in the world—and we are doing all of those things, make no mistake. However, behind the scenes, there is a lot of creating, processing, and production going on. If you are into multimedia/content development, communications strategy, and the business side of what we're doing this year you'll probably be interested in this, so stay with me...

To break it down for those who are just now following this project—we didn't just quit our jobs to travel, but to collaborate on a creative project. Within that project, we didn’t want to just visit every national park, we also wanted to challenge ourselves to create substantial content in each of them. 59 parks in 52 weeks, told in stories, photographs, video, 360 video (in production), timelapse video, shareable graphics, illustrations (also in production), and social media posts. 

That's a whole lot of content to create and manage while averaging one park every six days, driving to all of them in an Airstream trailer (named Wally), and spending full days of exploration in the field. As such, it's vital that we use the best tools we know of to manage our content. 

Here is a snapshot of just some of the development tools we are using to create content:

Apple computers, iPhone 6S, Fujifilm cameras, GoPro (or many, many GoPros); iPad Pro/Apple Pencil; Squarespace, Dreamhost...

And just some of the applications we are using to process the content: 

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop; Schedugram; SocialOomph, Instagram (@Jonathan_Irish /@iStefPayne); Facebook (/59in52); in-car wifi (Vinli); gobs of data storage (LaCie); inspiration; our brains...

But what about the production and organization of our stories? Having content and the means to edit and deploy it is nothing without a strategy for releasing it. You know how it goes, sometimes you need to lay everything out on the bed before it goes into your suitcase. The same goes for a story. For this I lined up the best virtual storytelling suitcase that I've ever used—which I counted on nearly every single day at NASA to help tell the story of human spaceflight—it's called Opal, and here's how it works: 

Create story arc – this is the top level Story. Ours is to visit all 59 of the U.S. National Parks during the centennial anniversary this year. 

Plan content strategy – these are the ‘Moments’ within the Story. This encapsulates what we do in each of these parks, the moments that make up the whole of the experience. 

Tag stories/moments – tagging enables filtering so that we can search/find/see content with ease. This feature is excellent for use in out-briefs, presentations, and sharing content with others... not to mention helping us quickly find what we are looking for.  

Collaborate – there are several areas within the platform where Jon and I (i.e. teams) can discuss creative, storyboard ideas, add notes, consider corrections, etc. We live in a small vessel and are basically together 24/7, so we don't use the collaboration tools as much as a larger team would. However, in a professional setting, this is key so I'm including it here.  

Manage assets – this is the area where all of the pretty pictures live, as well as attachments and other forms of creative that are assigned to moments. Asset library editing tools allow us to assign information to each piece of content. I think of it as content meta.  

Those are just the basics. There are many other features that we aren't applying due to the fast pace of this project, such as content approvals, in-platform correspondence, email alerts, custom content channels... it's no wonder that big brands such as Levi, Nike, Nestle, Starbucks, REI, and many others to use this application for planning all of that content that we Like every day on the web and social media. As for us, we are grateful to be able to partner with Opal to help us produce, plan, storyboard, and remember this project and amazing year in our lives.

For more info, head to the official website: 

This is a screenshot of our Asset Library, where we assign what we think of as content metadata. 

This is a screenshot of our Asset Library, where we assign what we think of as content metadata.