Since 2012, POV has brought together visionary filmmakers and inventive technologists to “re-imagine the documentary for web” in a single weekend. The latest edition of our non-fiction lab POV Digital Lab has concluded… Now, spend some time exploring what nine teams of hackers — most of whom had never met before participating — created in just one weekend at Centre for Social Innovation!

The Boat (Participants’ Choice Award)

The Boat

About the project: This interactive documentary tells the story of one fishing boat’s unlikely role in all but forgotten refugee crisis. Pulling from the captain’s log, archival material and first-person accounts of the crew and the passengers, The Boat explores the tension between memory and history.
The Boat is one of six planned interactive documentary projects connected to a serialized longform nonfiction podcast called In Fact, which explores the plight of Mariel Cubans who were held in U.S. detention centers through the 1980s and 1990s. Please wear headphones for the best experience.

Team: Chip Brantley, Iain Campbell, Andrew Beck Grace, Alex Wittholz


  • Web technologies used to build the project : HTML5, WebGL, Web Audio API
  • Main Javascript components : We used Mithril.js, a React-like virtual DOM framework, along with THREE.js to create 3D interactive panorama environments; a custom audio mixer library; a lot more custom Javascript; and Browserify to package it all up.
  • Git : We used Git to manage our source code.
  • Adobe CC : We mostly used Photoshop (for illustration), Audition (for audio editing), Premiere Pro (for video editing) and After Effects (for visual effects).
  • Google Drive and Dropbox : We collaborated mostly in Drive but with an occasional assist from Dropbox.

View the prototype »

A Field Guide to Male Muses

Field Guide

About the project: How does a woman look at a man? A Field Guide to Male Muses is a digital storytelling project, consisting of a series of short film essays and a large network of contributors, who tell stories about the men in their lives from a female point of view.
Best viewed in Chrome on Android 4+.

Team: Jenny Goldstick, Harmke Heezen, Mike Robbins


  • Built with : WebVTT, HTML5 Canvas, WebAudio, Javascript
  • Adobe CC : We used Adobe CC for video editing and graphic design
  • Google Drive : We used Google Drive for file sharing and asset collection

View the prototype »


Battle Sounds

About the project: Battle Sounds Interactive is an engaging ‘micro’ dive into the ‘macro’ world of Hip Hop DJ archives. The project allows DJ fans to dig, collect and share rare moments from an expansive video archive (200 hours recorded from 1994-1998). The user can watch the feature documentary and at any moment, pause, scan written transcripts, access original interviews and full performances or discover an alternate storyline. Unique found video moments can be shared on social media with the ability to adjust video length and add auto-transcribed text. DJs and DJ fans can add supplementary historic elements and better connect with an expansive community of Turntablists.
This prototype can be viewed in Chrome, Safari and iOs.

Team: John Carluccio, Mark Kotlinski, Pietro Passarelli, Brian Redondo


  • balsamiq : We used balsamiq for mockups, combine with bootstrap symbol library for ease of integration
  • Tabletop : Through tabletop we were able to use a spreadsheet as CMS for our app
  • Bootstrap : We used bootstrap for making mobile first responsive
  • Bootswatch : We used Bootswatch with theme darkly to change default bootstrap design
  • HTML5 Video : We used HTML5 video tag to trigger event at different timecodes point
  • autoEdit 2 : We used this in the app. We are currently working to generate a json of the transcription (through IBM watson STT API)
  • quickQuoteNode : We used this component from an app I previously worked on, to video tweet quotes
  • Captions burner : We used this component from an app I previously worked on, to burn captions on video for social media share

View the prototype »
View the source code »

Future Past News

Future Past

About the project: Future Past News is a web experience that allows users to time travel as they view a modern day newscast. Through simple keystrokes, viewers may switch between eras and draw parallels between the events of then and now as history repeats itself through war and conflict, natural disasters, technological advances, and economic strife.

Inspired by documentary films that use found footage in dialectical ways, such as the works of Chris Marker, Agnes Varda, and Alain Resnais, this project challenges viewers to reckon not just with the images of history but with their role in creating the news to be discovered in future archives. In particular, it challenges viewers to consider how their votes this election season might shape the future past news.

This project is a spin-off from an art installation developed by Karolina Ziulkoski and Andrea Wolf that originated with the discovery of a super-8 newsreel from 1937 found in a flea market in Mexico City. The newsreel ends with a message of hope: ‘In the hands of these five men rests the destiny of the world: Mikado, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. May they be wise, tolerant and sane – so that Peace on Earth and Good-Will toward men will reign for years to come’. Everyone knows, however, the tragic events that followed. In the installation an AR app switches the content on the TV screen from 1937 to the present, showing that history repeats itself.

The website prototype, developed by the POV Digital Lab team, initially displays a 2016 living room with a TV set playing a montage of contemporary news reports.

Using the keyboard number keys, users can switch between the contemporary news and footage from across the decades. While the living room decor changes over time, the news content is strikingly similar.

Team: Mandy Mandelstein, Ashley Maynor, Karolina Ziulkoski


  • Adobe CC : We used Adobe CC for design, sound and video editing
  • HTML5 and JavaScript : We used HTML5 and Javascript for development
  • Archival films : We used Archival films from the Internet Archive

View the prototype »

Meeting Melissa: A VR AXS Map Love Story

Meeting Melissa

About the project: Meeting Melissa: A VR AXS Map Love Story is a narrative that uses virtual reality to follow Chuck, a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome on his way to meet Melissa for the first time. Anxiety leads him to map his journey in advance, using VR AXS Map, to avoid unforeseen obstacles. This story explores new ways that people with disabilities can be a part of New York City’s urban landscape and beyond.

Team: Loren Abdulezer, Jason DaSilva, Karin Hayes, Lisa Russell


  • Unity 3D was used to create the application
  • The programming code was written in C# and also incorporates a special content creation tool — XpressVR
  • XpressVR is a VR content creation tool used for building VR AXS Map, which allows us to embed interactive elements like visual hotspots and gaze control in 360 images and videos.
  • Google Cardboard is the VR platform we used so that the app can be viewed in VR mode from mobile devices having IOS or Android.
  • Ricoh Theta S was the camera used to capture both 360 images and 360 videos. 2D movie clips and photos were shot with a Canon 7D
  • Final Cut Pro X, Final Cut Pro 7 and Avid were used for video and sound editing
  • Photoshop was used for creating and editing the icons and 2D images
  • Presentations were prepared in Keynote and PowerPoint

View the prototype »
Download the prototype »



About the project: #minusthedoubt2 is a documentary about women removing self-doubt from their dream-chasing process in a bespoke digital experience. Users can watch the director’s cut or, through answering a series of questions, build a tailored documentary based on their personal challenges with self-doubt.

Team: Kristin Cook, Krista Fuentes, Breonna Rodriguez


  • HTML5 Video We used HTML5 video to display the final result of the ‘build your own’ documentary feature. Its built-in video events let us know when a clip has ended so we could immediately begin playing another clip.
  • Javascript/JQuery We used JavaScript (relying heavily on JQuery) to manipulate our question pages and video player.
  • LocalStorage After a guest answers our set of questions, we map their answers to a series of clips and save a reference to those clips into their browser’s localStorage. This enables someone to come back to the mydoc.html page and watch their customized documentary again.
  • Sass/NPM/Grunt We used Sass as a CSS pre-processor, and NPM and Grunt to compile, concatenate and compress our Sass and JavaScript.
  • Owl Carousel Owl Carousel handles the animated slides on the home page
  • Skeleton/Skeleton-Sass We used Skeleton as a CSS base and grid system so we could get started laying our page elements out right away.

View the prototype »



About the project: Earth Overshoot Day marks the date where humanity’s resource consumption exceeds the planet’s capacity to regenerate those resources that year. We have created a website that calculates your personal Earth Overshoot Day and shows in the form of a newspaper what the world in 2040 looks like if everyone answered like you.

Team: Natalia Cabrera, Tim Farnam, Magdalena Kovarik, Anna Ridler


  • GitHub provides great version control and collaboration tools for the team. We also host the site on Github Pages for free
  • jQuery/Underscore provide a suite of utility methods for DOM manipulation and functional programing
  • Babel is a transpiler that lets us write in the modern Javascript syntax and still use the code in older browsers
  • Gulp/Browserify/NPM are build tools for Javascript that let us easily leverage third party libraries and bundle them to go over the network
  • LESS.js is a CSS preprocessor

View the prototype »
View the technology »

The Eyeslicer

The Eyeslicer

About the project: The Eyeslicer is the world’s first invite-only TV show. The first season brings 50+ counterculture filmmakers together for the weirdest variety series this side of 120 Minutes. In contrast to traditional streaming experiences, The Eyeslicer will feel interactive, exclusive, and unapologetically weird, encouraging binge-watching and social engagement.
The Eyeslicer will be released in 2017. The prototype we’ve built in the 2016 POV Digital Lab demos the platform’s functionality while also serving as a teaser for the show.

Team: Erika Grijalva, Vanessa McDonnell, Dan Schoenbrun, Tieg Zaharia


  • For doing page layouts we collaboratively used markers and whiteboard to discuss hierarchy of elements on the page
  • We used Bohemian Code Sketch app to recreate those layouts in high fidelity and get them approved by Dan & Vanessa
  • We used Marvel App to make the in-progress prototype we presented on Saturday night
  • In order to deliver assets and specifications for Tieg to develop the user interface Erika exported her designs using the “Sketch Measure” plugin
  • For the code, we started with the React library but found it unnecessary for a prototype, so we reverted to simple jQuery and CSS3 transitions to prototype the interface, which was perfect
  • We used Ruby on Rails and Heroku to run the prototype, but in reality we probably could have done this prototype with a simple static HTML page
  • We all shared files with Google Drive and Dropbox and throughout the weekend we communicated with Slack

View the prototype »

Zeki Müren Hotline

Zeki Muren

About the project: Zeki Müren (1931-1996) was considered to be the David Bowie of Turkey. This i-doc answers the question, “Who is Zeki Müren?” but not without Zeki (in the form of a chatbot) intervening and reinterpreting the facts of what became an iconic life.
This prototype is best viewed in Chrome

Team: Isabelle Raynauld, Jeff Soyk


  • Adobe CC was used to prep image assets as well as edit video
  • Handbrake was used to convert video and audio files for web
  • HTML5/CSS3/JS was used to build the i-doc-like experience which includes parallax, HTML5 video, and animation
  • Botkit was used for the chatbot/AI logic
  • Brackets was used to write the code
  • Slack was used for team communication

View the prototype »


POV Digital Lab NYC Group Photo

POV Digital Lab mentors play a critical role in providing feedback, project management, therapeutic counseling… whatever is needed at any time to help the teams get their prototypes presentation-ready over the course of the weekend.

  • Jenn Shaw (Jnine Media LLC.)
  • Kunal Gupta (Silent Barn,
  • Clint Beharry (Harmony Institute)
  • Ann Bennett

Additional thanks to judges Don Wilcox (VP, Multiplatform Marketing & Content – PBS), Fred Dust (Partner at IDEO) and Billy Chasen (Founder,, betaworks) for lending their expertise and advice to participants at the POV Digital Lab prototype screening.

Thanks to our partner Centre for Social Innovation.

See photos from POV Digital Lab NYC at the Centre for Social Innovation.

Want to see more? View the prototypes from past POV Digital Lab at »

Keep up with developments at POV Hackathon: Subscribe to POV’s documentary blog, like POV on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @povdocs!

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POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 400 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.