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Sounds Like Techno - a new online experience

Author: Michelle Pirovich
Wednesday, July 2, 2003
In the beginning everything was called techno. However to many this much used and abused term actually represents a cultural movement like no other. 'Sounds like Techno' is a unique Australian online documentary that unearths the origins, pays tribute to the instigators and celebrates the true meaning of techno.

Produced by Springtime Productions, with the assistance of the ABC (Film Victoria Multimedia Production Accord) 'Sounds Like Techno' has been a long labour of love for Producer Keren Flavell and Director JD Mittmann.

The idea for the project came from an obvious need to have Australia's involvement in the techno scene documented, says Keren,

"JD and I were inspired by the techno movement and the documentaries about the scene in the US and UK and how it all formed and we noticed there wasn't anything to represent Australia."

Featuring countless interviews with techno's key figures Stacey Pullen, Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Kraftwerk's Ralf Huetter, Australia's Voiteck, Richie Rich, Ollie Olsen, Brewster B and Steve Law, as well as sound bites, text quotes, narration, voice-overs and complimented by a naturally brilliant sound track, the wealth of information available here is nothing short of extensive.

"We spent many exhaustive months researching, undertaking interviews and collecting imagery. 'Play' and 'Inpress' who have always been critical to documenting Melbourne's scene were very generous with supplying interviews and articles and particularly Melbourne Journalist Cyclone."

"Photographic content was supplied by Christine Bladeni and Julian Smith, JD compiled many hours of video footage and we also collected imagery online from several Detroit and UK photographers."

'Sounds Like Techno' is an interactive documentary which ultimately tells a story, but unlike most documentaries the traditional format was not suited to online media which raised a huge challenge for Keren and all involved.

"It was difficult to come up with the right way to present this. Movement and energy was important, so to was offering it as a form of story telling. Knowing that every persons experience would be unique we chose a hierarchical format - top level core story and then you can delve deeper if you want. We also found that we wanted to offer different ways to cut into the site, e.g. the timeline, the stories and the find section."

The design itself is sleek and timeless and users will find it extremely easy to navigate through.

"There was a lot of interface design and usability testing to make sure that as a user it was easy to understand and investigate."

With the internet still often disregarded as an essential media platform, Keren is confident that 'Sounds Like Techno' has paved the way for future online story tellers.

"I think the strongest thing about this project is that it totally introduces a new form of online story telling and really raises people's awareness of how effective interactive content via a network can be. It is important for me to raise this point as this is a media that is far more democratic than television and more respect should be given to this form of media."

'Sounds Like Techno' is a site that you want to come back to time and time again and you are guaranteed to discover something new with each visit, but as much of a history lesson as it is the overall experience should be a fun one.

"Fun is what we want people to have with this, for non techno fans we want them to gain an understanding and appreciation of the musical form and for techno fans we want to give them a celebration of what they love, particularly for the young people who are only just getting into it now and don't know a lot about where it came from."

Hugely informative and equally entertaining, the documentary is divided into four main sections and looks intimately at the Detroit scene - the birthplace of techno, the growth of the Australian scene and the geographical hazards that many of our produ