Warning: Constant WP_DEBUG already defined in /usr/home/huckleberry/domains/messmag.com/public_html/wp-config.php on line 84 Rutger Bruining: StoryTerrace Q&A – Mess Magazine

You are the founder and CEO of StoryTerrace. Could you tell us more about it? When was the interest in the family stories born? 

My mother, who worked from home as an academic, used to take me to my grandparents’ place in Belgium during the school holidays in the Netherlands. While we would play backgammon with my grandfather smoking cigars, he would tell me stories about growing up, meeting my grandmother, travelling around the world, sports, setting up a GP practice in the Caribbean and the resistance group he started during World War II. It was only after he passed away that I realised how fast the stories had faded. Full of regrets but armed with new-found purpose, I thought about solutions to help other people to record the precious memories of those they love – before it’s too late. As the freelancer platforms became mainstream, I discovered how many highly qualified writers were available around the world, so I began matching ghostwriters to clients to help them write a book as smoothly and beautifully as possible. 

What makes StoryTerrace so unique? 

At StoryTerrace we take a really individualised approach for each of our clients. Everyone has a story to tell, and we want to ensure they are interpreted in the most authentic way. We do this by carefully matching the storytellers with one of over 750 ghostwriters from our vetted pool. We look at people’s cultural background, professional experience, personality, and location. The process of curating one’s life story heavily relies on this relationship so that the client feels they can trust and share their experiences with their writer. The matching process is what makes us as a service unique and helps both parties to establish the purpose and nature of the biography. After identifying the key themes and messages that the client wants to convey, the writer first creates an outline and a sample chapter before writing a full draft. It’s a collaborative process where the client is always in control of the output. After finalising the text we use the customer’s photos to design and create hardcover, full-colour books.


Which topics do people want to immortalise the most? 

We have a whole range of themes coming in at StoryTerrace all the time – it’s great to see such diversity in our clients’ life stories. Most often we hear stories of love, family, coming of age, immigration, survival and dealing with adversity. We have also seen a rise in the number of business success stories with female and male entrepreneurs sharing their desire to document their journeys so far.

You joined 8i, an hologram technology company, to create virtual memoirs. How did it all start? 

I first met the 8i team at their offices in LA in 2017, through a mutual connection. I loved their vision to harness the power of holograms to add real benefit to a range of industries and they were excited about our books, so it felt like the perfect partnership for innovation. 

What is the main aim of digital memoirs? 

The book is already a powerful medium to tell someone’s life story because you can really reflect on life, look at turning points and go incredibly deep into that story. What makes VR so unique is that you can immerse yourself in someone else’s life whom you are close to and actually hear their voice. I believe that combining these two mediums will be extremely powerful. The ambition was to preserve our legacies using a more immersive, audiovisual format. We are taking the first steps in digitising how we capture our life stories in order to revolutionise storytelling. 


What is the process of creating virtual reality memoirs?

Leveraging proprietary machine learning algorithms, 8i’s technology fuses footage captured from an array of cameras into a single 3D twin of the subject, enabling participants to literally choose their viewpoint and even walk around their loved one. Individuals simply put on the VR headset and are equipped with a handset which allows them to navigate through the series of stories narrated by the digital version of the storyteller, so it’s as if your loved one is standing right in front of you.

What are the advantages of VR in the case of family biographies? How does it differ from the written word/books you have done so far? 

Based on our experience in developing the VR product as well as user feedback, we have received an overwhelmingly positive response. The VR medium is incredibly powerful in terms of providing a visual and auditory aid as opposed to the written word. Whilst we are primarily focussing on our written memoirs, the VR offers a holistic and immersive alternative which allows families to view their relatives as if standing in front of them. We harness features from the storyteller’s real life, such as the 3D environment, so that it adds another layer of personality. This, we feel, allows families to stay connected to their past and maintains the authenticity of the story being told. 

How do you see the future of storytelling? Is it going to be interactive? 

We believe this is the first step in evolving traditional methods of legacy preservation from solely books to virtual mediums. By developing innovative technology with the help of 8i, we hope to make it more and more accessible for people to enjoy 3D immersive and personal experiences. With AI markets projected to grow to nearly $600 billion by 2025, society is gradually acclimatising to a world experienced through immersive mediums and we hope that the biography and publishing industries will be the next to integrate this. 

Check out more about StoryTerrace: https://storyterrace.com

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