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Digital Storytelling Workshop: Day 1 (August 6, 2012)
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Digital Storytelling Workshop: Day 1 (August 6, 2012)


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These are notes from day 1 of a three-day workshop I led on the topic of digital storytelling for higher education.

These are notes from day 1 of a three-day workshop I led on the topic of digital storytelling for higher education.

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  • Welcome! My intro (you’ll have the chance for an intro a bit later, when we share story ideas)Started teaching DS three or four years ago (started with photo essay and expanded to broader range that doesn’t quite fit into traditional definition of DS)Interested in pursuing the CDS certificate and in working with them on helping people tell stories for personal growth and social changeWill soon work with Diane to offer workshops to various groups of girls and women and LGBT folksWill be teaching a class for ATLAS this FallAlso preparing a series of DS tutorials for faculty (commissioned by Continuing Ed)Materials I develop will assist you in teaching DS in your classes
  • I haven’t built in time to explicitly address how to teach DS projects, but we can talk about that as we move along. Please feel free to ask questions about teaching DS at any point.The materials I make for Continuing Ed will also be available to you to consult, as needed.
  • Not simply an illustrated written essay delivered out loud(although that’s what students will tend to do without a lot of coaching)NOTE: Please feel free to take notes and brainstorm ideas for topics and approaches as I go through these slides
  • These are some of the options I give students, but some stretch the boundaries around what counts as “digital storytelling” vs. digital composition more broadly.CDS takes a fairly narrow approach: photo essayIf you want to assign a DS project, you can decide if you want a narrow or broader approach
  • CDS imposes a limit of 2-3 minutes given the constraints of a three day workshopBecause I devote several weeks to DS, I ask my students for projects more like 6-8 minutes longRequired equipment:Laptop with video editing softwareInternal or external microphoneOptional:Account on a video hosting site
  • Can you think of other types of personal stories?Key element: should be a personal story, if not directly about your own personal experience then still based on something of personal significance to you (not abstract or generalized)Most of these are from the CDS Digital Storytelling Cookbook
  • These are from the CDS workshop I participated inDeb’s
  • These are some possible ideas for personal stories you might want to make to share with students(this slide is from a presentation I prepared about digital storytelling in higher ed)Reminder: Everyone will have the chance to share their story ideas in the story circle, after lunchDo you want to take a moment to brainstorm some ideas re: your topic?
  • First three really belong together under: Finding your storyI’ve also added a few stepsWe’ll focus mostly on storytelling strategies for narrative, visual, and audio(cover assembly in more depth tomorrow)Please feel free to pause and brainstorm ideas for your own story at any point
  • What appeals to you about a good personal story, regardless of the medium?(we’ll come back to this later)Return to these questions as you develop your storyMissing Tooth is the main message of this story?
  • Genuine and not forcedDon’t make something more dramatic than is warranted by the subject matterNot all stories need to be heart wrenchingDid you see any examples of stories that were or were not emotionally honest?Examples:Tonya is the main emotion that drives this story?
  • Focus on concrete moments that might illustrate broader conceptsDon’t focus on conveying vague abstractions that won’t “stick” in viewers’ mindsWhen did you realize something important about your relationship with your parent?Examples:Domino does the moment function in this story?
  • (Departing from the CDS Seven Steps)These are strategies that might apply to any storytelling situation (not just digital)For example: How might you hook the viewer in the opening bit without giving away the whole story?
  • Think about how examples you’ve viewed use direct vs. indirect imagery – and the impact of each type.A good topic for a digital story is one that really requires a visual component (if it’s better off as a written story or an audio story, choose a different topic)TIP: Avoid being redundant with imagesExamples:Schuyler’s storyversion with lots of images: with far fewer images:
  • Share other strategies you noticed while viewing examples?Video effects: done within the video editing app you useMany free or inexpensive tools for manipulating photosText effects: can be done within video editing app or created as images (in image editing app or Powerpoint)
  • Considerthe kind of language you use when you write your script:  don't want to sound like you're reading an essay aloud     consider word choice and sentence structure     try to restrain your "inner writer" -- less is more, be more concise, let the images and audio do some of the message carrying for youConsider the tone you want to convey and how both your words and your tone of voice will convey thatDon’t speak too quickly! Give listeners time to absorb the story and experience the visuals
  • - would it be useful to add a musical soundtrack, to underscore a feeling or create tension or ?- would any ambient sounds be helpful, or would they be distracting or cheesy?
  • Storyboard: how producers plan visual media (TV, movies, comics)Script: written version with notes about which images and effects to useShot list: what digital media assets do you still need to gather?
  • Can make storyboards in PowerPoint, Word, Stickies, notecards, or whatever tool, even a comicbook tool like Comic Lifelots of Word and PDF storyboard templates available online NOTE on using PPT or Word: dragging images in for planning is ok, but don’t try to get them back out; use original file
  • From a project I’m working on: my digital literacy narrative - collecting these from anyone who’d like to share -
  • We’ll talk more about these options later.
  • May need to use image, audio, or video editing app to change formatSometimes need media convertersText: will need to be in an image format
  • Basic apps for image, audio, and video editing come free on your computer or available for free on the webMore advanced options available at a range of pricesJPG is compressed format that re-compresses with each save; fine for export but not image in progressFor videos, choose the format that works best with assembly app (may not be highest quality available)
  • Assets include script, photos, video clips, audio clips, etc.Other tools to use for planning: - folders and sub-folders - Evernote or other synching app to manage files (with categories and tags)
  • say something about creative commons and fair useAlso choose version that will work with your assembly app (mp4 or mp2 should work with all)
  • DEMO coming up on next slideBut also demo on live web page?
  • Right click or control click on a link and choose “Save link as”This dropdown is from Firefox. Maybe have slightly different options if you’re using Safari or Chrome
  • These are strategies you can try LATER(may demonstrate basics when we start with hands-on in iMovie)
  • Transcript

    • 2. WORKSHOP OVERVIEW• Monday • Exploring the genre and process of digital storytelling • Story circle: sharing our story ideas• Tuesday • Workshop & revise stories • Managing media assets • Intro to assembly: video editing software• Wednesday • Work on assembling story • Film festival!
    • 3. WHAT IS DIGITAL STORYTELLING?The process of conveying a meaningful personal storythrough a combination of visuals, sound elements,and spoken narrative.• Typically your story, but could be the story of another person or topic you have a deep emotional investment in• Purpose is typically to enlighten, move, or inspire viewers, but could be to educate or persuade
    • 4. APPROACHES TO DIGITAL STORYTELLING• photo essay • mini-documentary• audio essay • short film• comic strip • skit• animation • remix
    • 5. OUR APPROACH• In this workshop, we’ll focus on creating a photo essay that tells a personal story • Length: about 2-3 minutes • Format: video file shareable via the web• Rhetorical Situations • Provide insight on a topic relevant to your classes • Create an example of the kind of project you’d ask students to produce • Produce a story for another audience and purpose
    • 6. TYPES OF PERSONAL STORIES• Adventure • Family• Accomplishment • Relationships• Memorial or Tribute • Identity• Places • Culture or ethnicity• Events • Spirituality• Activities • Health and healing• Discoveries • Lifestyle• Moments of change • Travel
    • 7. A FEW SAMPLE TOPICS• How a cat helped a boy through his parents’ divorce• Coming to terms with the potential return of a foster child to his birth mother• Meeting birth parents for the first time (in another culture)• Tribute to the memory of a grandfather• Lessons learned during a trip with a son• Coming to terms with a potentially racially motivated incident• What it means to participate in a dance troupe while suffering from Parkinson’s• Reflecting on how the loss of a daughter’s tooth makes a mother aware of how quickly time passes
    • 8. TOPICS FOR FACULTY STORIES Memories of: • Learning to read and write (and study) • Navigating a computer for the first time • What led you into your field of study An event that was: • Embarrassing but educational • Perspective-shifting or motivating • Particularly relevant to a concept in your discipline
    • 9. TOPICS FOR STUDENT STORIES• How you developed a sense of gender identity and expression• How you (or others) came to terms with your sexual orientation• What else?
    • 10. DIGITAL STORYTELLING PROCESS 1. Finding your story • Owning your insights • Owning your emotions • Finding the moment 2. Seeing your story 3. Hearing your story 4. Planning your story 5. Assembling your story 6. Sharing your story Adapted from the Digital Storytelling Cookbook, by the Center for Digital Storytelling
    • 11. STEP 1a: OWNING YOUR INSIGHTSStart by accepting your own insights as valid andvaluable and worth capturing in digital story format.• What do you want your story to be about?• What do you most want to convey to your viewers?• What is the main message or theme?• What are additional messages or themes?
    • 12. STEP 1b: OWNING YOUR EMOTIONSThe power of this medium is its appeal to pathos• What emotions drive your story?• How does the story make you feel?• How do you want the story to make viewers feel?• What does it mean to be “emotionally honest”? • Be genuine and authentic • Be surprising (rather than predictable)
    • 13. STEP 1c: FINDING THE MOMENT(S)• Ground your story in a concrete moment (or series of moments) you can recapture for your viewers • Use details of place, characterization, dialogue • Appeal to a variety of senses • sight, sound, taste, touch, smell, etc. • Help viewers experience the moment as you did• Sample moments: • When you became aware of a new insight • When something changed for you • When you realized your identity was in question
    • 14. GENERAL STORYTELLING STRATEGIESWhat makes a personal story compelling to you as areader or viewer?• Uses concrete and vivid details• Easy for viewers to relate to• Builds a sense of dramatic tension• Uses structural strategies • Foreshadowing • Flashbacks • Pacing• Other? • Start where you are
    • 15. STEP 2: SEEING YOUR STORY• What new layers of meaning can you add to your story through visuals? • What makes the story appropriate for a visual medium (and not written or audio-only)?• You can use imagery: • to directly illustrate aspects of a story • to indirectly convey a mood, serve as a metaphor, provide contrast or juxtaposition, and so on• Practical considerations: What images can you find, modify, or create, in the time given?
    • 16. VISUAL STORYTELLING STRATEGIES• Video effects • Photo effects • Pan across • Posterize (comic book) • Zoom in/out • Grayscale • Fade or dissolve • Sepia tone • Side by side • Colorize • Picture in picture • Blur • Animations • Collage • Live drawings • Creative cropping• Text effects • Titles and subtitles • Word art
    • 17. STEP 3: HEARING YOUR STORY• Compose your script for oral delivery • Aim for a conversational tone • Avoid “reading an essay out loud” • Be concise and let the visuals (and audio) do some of the work• Consider the role your spoken voice will play in your story • Tone and inflection • Pacing • Vocal gestures
    • 18. AUDIO STORYTELLING STRATEGIES• What might a musical soundtrack or sound effects add to your story? • Build tension or suspense • Enhance emotional impact • Provide interesting contrast or juxtaposition• How might you make strategic use of silence?TIP: Practice recording yourself delivering your storyas many times as you can, until you find the style ofdelivery you’re most comfortable with
    • 19. STEP 4: PLANNING YOUR STORY• Consider the overall structure (and its impact on viewers) • How will you organize the story? • How will the layers of visuals, sounds, and spoken narrative work together?• Consider the components • What visuals do you need to gather or create? • What sound effects might you use?• Planning strategies • Storyboards • Scripts • “Shot lists”
    • 20. STORYBOARD ELEMENTS Storyboards: planning a visual composition by organizing media elements, effects, and narration Structural Elements Scene Elements• Title card • Digital media clips• Introduction (optional) • Narration or script• Body sections or “acts” • Effects applied to clip and “scenes” • Music or sound effects• Closing scene • Transition out to next• Credits scene
    • 24. STEP 5: ASSEMBLING YOUR STORY• Record and import audio voiceover• Assemble visuals in a video editing application• Apply effects and transitions• Produce a rough cut to share for feedback• Revise and polish
    • 25. STEP 6: SHARING YOUR STORY• Export a “final” version to share with intended audience • In a shareable format (mov, m4v, mp4, wmv)Upload to:• Video hosting sites (YouTube, Vimeo, many others) • Options for public, limited, or private • Can be embedded into blogs, wikis, D2L, and more• Google Docs • Best for sharing only with individuals or a class
    • 26. LINKS TO SAMPLE STORIESStory of Domino Deep Water (shared by Diane) a friend named Tonya Let’s Call Her Michelle (shared by Beckett) Men Can Bake Their Cakes and Eat Them The Rush: A Digital Poem (by student)Too (animation by student) digital-poem/can-bake-their-cakes/Schuyler, Reunionversion with lots of images: This is the story Amy made for the CDS workshop in May: with far fewer images: identity-cdsproject Samples from Amy’s gender and sexuality studentsCandace, When the Student is Ready Many more samplesThe Missing Tooth (not available on the web)
    • 28. SHARING PROCESS• Each person gets about 10 minutes to share her ideas for the story she’d like to create in the workshop• The person then gets to decide what kind of feedback she’d like, if any • General impressions • Advice about story content or direction • Group offers feedback, if applicable• Repeat the process for the next person• For Tuesday: prepare a story draft to share with a few group members
    • 29. SHARING STORY IDEAS• What do you want your story to be about? (main message or theme)• What is your intended audience and purpose?• What emotions do you want the audience to feel?• How might you use visual elements to convey parts of your story?• How might you use vocal gestures, sound effect, and/or music to convey parts of your story?
    • 31. TYPES OF ASSETS Digital Media Sources• photos & other • archival footage images • media labeled for• video clips reuse• audio clips • media used with• narration permission• music & sound • self-produced effects• animations• text
    • 32. FILE FORMATS• File format needed depends on which app you use to assemble the story• Common digital media file formats: • Images: jpg, png, gif, tif • Video: wmv, mov, m4v, mp4 • Audio: wma, wav, mp3, m4a• If needed: • Use media converters to change file formats and extract audio from video • Mac users: Use QuickTime X to trim audio or video or extract audio
    • 33. TIPS FOR WORKING WITH ASSETS• Download, scan, or create images in highest quality possible• Modify images in TIF or native format, not JPG • Re-saving JPGs results in loss of quality• Name (or re-name) with helpful file names • Helpful: sassy-swimming-may2012.jpg • Not helpful: DC3X0!3.jpg • WARNING: don’t change file extensions (like .jpg)
    • 34. TIPS FOR MANAGING ASSETS• Come up with a strategy for managing all your digital media assets, but remain flexible and experiment to see what works best• Mac users: • Import photos into iPhoto and audio into iTunes• Windows users: • Import photos into Windows Live Photo Gallery and audio into iTunes or comparable• May also be possible to drag and drop media into video editing app, but doing so is not recommended
    • 35. FINDING ASSETS• Best assets to use are ones you’ve created and own the license to• You may also search for reusable media • Search terms: creative commons, royalty free, free, copyright free • Flickr and Google Images Advanced allow you to restrict results by license • has many reusable audio and video clips • Several sites offer free audio:,
    • 36. TIPS FOR DOWNLOADING• Find the highest quality available • depending on the file type you need and your bandwidth limits• Use a browser tool like Download Helper (for Firefox) to access embedded videos • also offers conversion and audio stripping• Rename files for clarity, as needed • x&4lxp8w.jpg is not a helpful file name• Right-click or control-click on image or file to download
    • 37. • Downloading mp3 from
    • 38. • Downloading movie file from
    • 39. CREATING ASSETS• Record your own video with QuickTime X or iMovie (Mac) or MovieMaker (PC) • or digital camcorder or smartphone• Record audio narration with QuickTime X, iMovie, or GarageBand (Mac) or Sound Recorder or Audacity (PC) • or smartphone• Take your own photos with a digital point-and- shoot, SLR, or smartphone camera