A hero image from "My Grandmother’s Lingo" project.

My Grandmother’s Lingo

Exploring the impact of Indigenous language loss on self-identity through voice-recognition and AI

My Grandmother’s Lingo is an immersive web documentary that combines voice-activated technology, illustration, animation and music to tell the story of a young Aboriginal woman from the remote North East Arnhem Land community of Ngukurr – Angelina Joshua.

Her dad raised her to understand that language is the way to keep culture alive, but until now, Angelina never had the chance to learn Marra. With only three elders remaining who speak it, she works tirelessly to record and speak with them. She is exhausted but feels the weight of this responsibility, and believes this is what she can do to ensure her culture lives on.

This new interactive doco by @SBS is awesome!

This is the most beautiful website I have seen and for such a good course!

Everyone needs to sit in front of a computer with some headphones and watch/hear/do this. So beautiful.

Public service announcement: this is still the most beautiful story ever done on endangered languages.

The Project

Language loss is invisible and hard to grasp, but it’s happening at an incredible speed. More than 90% of Australia’s Indigenous languages are critically endangered, and for these communities, languages are the creations and the vectors of tradition. They aren’t on Wikipedia, searchable on Google, or on a language app - once gone, they’re gone forever.

The significance of this issue is addressed on My Grandmother’s Lingo through a unique blend of interactive graphics, cutting-edge technology - such as machine learning and voice recognition - with hand-drawn illustrations from proud Gomeroi and Mandandanji artist Jake Duzinsky and original music from Indigenous music producer Kuren (aka Curtis Kennedy). The result is an evocative experience that transcends traditional storytelling methods in favour of something more involving, more intimate and ultimately more revealing than conventional web experiences.

Winner of the Walkley Award for Journalism for Multimedia Storytelling.

Multimedia Storytelling
Web Video - Activism
Film & Video - Best Use of Interactive Video
Finalist - Website - Activism
Finalist - Website - Best Use of Animation or Motion Graphics
Site of the Day
Site of the Day
SXSW Interactive Innovation Award - Best Responsive Design
Alternate Realities - Best Interactive

What We Did

Perhaps our most vital contribution to this project was in bringing together a diverse range of talents whom had never built an interactive before, and providing them the guidance and expertise we have built up over years of multimedia output. Animators, sound designers, journalists and even conventional web developers all coming together to produce something altogether unique.

This meant building tools to support the team. At the heart of this project is a custom animation pipeline, that outputs Adobe Animate and After Effects assets into reusable ES6 modules, tieing together assets created internally and by our collaborators into one package.

  • Production Creative Direction, Design, Motion Graphics, Web Development, Project Management
  • Technology Canvas 2D, Javascript, Voice Recognition, Web Audio, Mapbox

Distil Immersive live and work on Gadigal land. We acknowledge and pay our respects to past, present and emerging Traditional Custodians and Elders of this Country and we recognise the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.