Korsakow - Quick Start

This is a brief guide to making a simple Korsakow Film. We also have some FAQs, basic Tutorials, and a Manual.


  1. Anatomy of a Korsakow Film
  2. Ten basic steps to make a K-Film
  3. First-Time Users: Getting started using ‘Circle of Life’
  4. Experienced Users

1. Anatomy of a Korsakow Film

Anatomy of a K Film

Anatomy of a K Film

Korsakow Films are viewed in a web browser (eg Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari), as seen in this exploded diagram, with each element appearing in sequence from right to left. It begins with the Korsakow ‘K’ preloader. Once the Korsakow Film has loaded sufficiently to begin playing, the Startscreen appears (optional). This can be clicked on by the viewer to dismiss it immediately; otherwise it will dismiss itself after about 5 seconds. If the default interface design has been used, the first SNU will appear and begin playing, with up to three Previews below it. (The Korsakow Film used for this illustration is Almost Architecture.) A Film can be paused using the space bar. The current SNU can be skipped using the forward arrow. A Film can be restarted simply by clicking on the reload button in the browser’s toolbar.

2. Ten basic steps to make a K-Film

  1. Download and install Version 5 of the Korsakow System. Make sure you have selected the right operating system (ie Mac or PC).
  2. The downloaded file may need to be extracted/unzipped manually.
  3. Start the Korsakow System by double-clicking on the application icon (Windows users: double-click on ‘korsakow.jar’).
  4. In basic terms, Korsakow allows you to turn media assets (eg video files) into Smallest Narrative Units (SNUs, or ‘snooz’ for short). This involves making rule-based associations between all the media assets in your project, using two kinds of keywords: IN ("I am…" keywords) and OUT ("Looking for…") keywords.
  5. We call this process SNU-ifying or snoo-ifying. SNUified media is indicated with a white, red, and blue cube in the far lefthand column.
  6. To SNUify a piece of media, drag it into the main Korsakow window, then double-click on it to bring up the SNU editor.
  7. For every SNU there is an associated Preview file (most likely a still image or a video). Preview files do not need to have the same name as their associated SNUs.
  8. A K-Film will only ‘work’ if there are multiple SNUs with keywords in common. (The keywords are derived by you, based on the content or meaning of each SNU. Where keywords coincide, links are made.) NB You must specify which SNU will play first.
  9. The default interface (ie the K-Film’s layout) is a main media panel with three auto-link previews underneath. Changes can be made to the interface by double-clicking on the interface file in the main Korsakow window.
  10. Making a K-Film is an iterative process, meaning we find it best to add some media, SNUify it, export, view it, add/modify the SNUs, export again, and so on. This is a good way to develop your non-linear storytelling, but also to publish: K-Films can very easily be updated, modified, and built upon.

3. First-Time Users: Getting started using ‘Circle of Life’

Experience with workshops and in classrooms tells us that it is often much easier to learn the rudiments of Korsakow by tinkering with an existing K-Film, rather than by starting from scratch.

As with earlier versions of Korsakow, Version 5.0 ships with all the media and information required to publish a simple K-Film called Circle of Life. This can be found via Korsakow’s Help menu (‘Load Example’). Once you have loaded Circle of Life into Korsakow, you will see a list of media (videos and still images) and a file called Interface. Rename this project, eg ‘Korsakow_Test_1′ (File > Save As) and save it to a suitable project folder.

We suggest you now immediately export "Circle of Life" (File > Export), without making changes to any of its files. You will then know what to expect when exporting, and you will have a successfully exported K-Film that you can test out. Exporting produces two files: an index.html file and the Korsakow Film itself (bundled inside a new folder called ‘data’). Open the index.html file locally in a browser (eg Firefox), or upload index.html and the data folder to a server and locating the index.html via a browser. This will allow you to see, hear and interact with the K-Film "Circle of Life". Two important notes: 1) you can rename the index.html file (eg to mykorsakow.html) during or after Export; 2) however, note that both files (index.html and the ‘data’ folder) must always be in the same place, ie in the same folder or directory.

Now go back to Korsakow, resave the project with a new name (eg ‘Korsakow_Test_2′) and experiment with the media files. We suggest Saving and Exporting regularly so you can see the effects of the changes you’ve made. Here are some ideas:

  • Double-click on the Interface file to access the Interface Editor. The default interface (as seen in ‘Circle of Life’ and all other online Korsakow Films made before Version 5) is a main stage area with three equally sized and spaced Previews (‘SNU Auto Links’). You can have as many Previews as you like; just drag new ones in from the Widgets window on the righthand side. Once you’ve modified the Interface, save your work, export, and play the K-Film to see your changes.
  • Add a short video of your own – or use one from the free starter pack on the download page – by dragging it into the main Korsakow window. SNUify it by using some of the keywords already created for ‘Circle of Life’. Save and Export to see how your new addition integrates into the K-Film.
  • Look carefully at the existing SNUs and modify some of their keywords, or even delete some of the SNUs. Save and Export to see how your new addition integrates into the K-Film.

As you get more comfortable with Korsakow, try deleting all the Circle of Life media assets, and begin building your own Korsakow.

4. Experienced Users

For those of you who have already used an earlier version of Korsakow and feel comfortable with it, please take a moment to review these important changes:

  1. Unlike earlier versions, Korsakow Version 5 behaves more like a regular application: You download it once, place it in your applications directory and utilize media assets located anywhere on your harddrive by dragging them into the main window (ie where it says ‘Drag Media Here’). This creates links to those media assets; it does not duplicate them.
  2. K-Films produced with Version 5 require Flash Player, rather than Shockwave. This makes them far, far easier to view online.
  3. There is no longer a Tool or an Engine. There is an application (‘Korsakow’) with associated workfiles (.krw). To preview, play, or test your K-Film, you must Export it. This produces an index.html file and a data folder. To play the K-Film, load the index.html file into your browser, or upload it and the entire data folder to the same directory in your server space and navigate to the index.html file. The index.html file and the data folder must remain together. You can rename the index.html file during or after Export.
  4. There is no longer a separate Interfacer Tool. The new Interface Editor is built into the application, and is accessed by double-clicking on the ‘Interface’ file in the main Korsakow window.
  5. No special procedures are required to prepare a K-Film for viewing online. Simply Export and Upload the index.html file and the ‘data’ folder to your serverspace.
  6. As with Version 3, Version 5 comes with ‘Circle of Life’, a basic demo K-Film. To load it into Korsakow, click on ‘Load Example’ in the application’s Help menu. Then publish it (File > Export).
  7. Version 5 also allows you to import older K-Films. This is highly recommended if you have important K-Films you want to make available to a wider audience – and perhaps have featured in the new Showcase. (Most of us have Flash Player already installed; fewer and fewer of us have Shockwave.) To Import an older (Version 3) K-Film, go to File > Import K3 and then navigate to the database.txt file for that project (data > database > database.txt) and click Open. You may get some error messages, but your import should still be OK. Resave as a Version 5 Korsakow project (myproject.krw). You can now make changes, but just try Exporting first, to make sure everything works.
  8. Previews (videos, images, etc) do not have to have the same name as their associated SNUs anymore.
  9. Instead of an external Subtitle Tool, in Version 5 you can now create special text files for your subtitles. Full instructions here. (Note that projects with subtitles already created in K3 should import properly.)

Source: Quick Start