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Making a Digital Storytelling Project in iMovie '11


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The presentation guides you through the process of creating a digital storytelling project in iMovie '11.

For more info, such as links to playable versions of sample stories as well as other versions of the presentation (including one that has over 20,000 views!), see:

This post is on my help site, which features resources to help students and faculty compose in digital media (including separate tutorials on each step of using iMovie). Feel free to share the site with students and colleagues!

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Making a Digital Storytelling Project in iMovie '11

  1. Digital StorytellingMaking a Digital Story in iMovie ‘11Amy GoodloeProgram for Writing and Rhetoric, CU Boulder
  2. Workshop Overview Identify the steps involved in producing a digital storytelling project Follow each step, using iMovie ‘11 and additional apps, as needed End result: 2-3 minute practice digital storytelling project (rough cut)
  3. Workshop Goals Understand the process and terminology associated with digital storytelling  Storyboarding  Assets Develop confidence in using iMovie ’11 to:  Import images and video  Add title cards, photo effects, and transitions  Export a shareable digital story Have fun!
  4. What is digital storytelling?"Digital Storytelling is the modern expression ofthe ancient art of storytelling. Throughouthistory, storytelling has been used to shareknowledge, wisdom, and values. Stories havetaken many forms. Stories have been adapted toeach successive medium that has emerged, fromthe circle of the campfire, to the silver screen,and now the computer screen." (Leslie Rule 2009)
  5. Digital Storytelling Process
  6. Overview of Composing Process1. Brainstorm topics 6. Assemble assets2. Gather assets 7. Apply effects & transitions3. Modify assets 8. Export rough cut*4. Explore storytelling techniques 9. Revise & polish5. Build storyboard* 10. Export & share * Get Feedback (recommended)
  7. Two Approaches to Photo EssaysStory first, then images Images first, then story  Write a story  Gather visuals on a topic  Gather visuals to  Assemble visuals in accompany story iMovie  Assemble visuals in  Prepare a script to iMovie accompany visuals  Record audio narration  Record audio narration (emphasis on storytelling) (emphasis on visuals)
  8. Materials Recommended Optional Story  iPhoto and iTunes Photos  Video clips Audio clips  PowerPoint iMovie ‘11  Access to email Web browser  Text editor Image editor
  9. Tip: Finding Applications
  11. Planning Brainstorming Strategies Freewriting  Interviewing Listing  Reviewing old photos Cluster mapping Dialogue Rhetorical Situation Audience  Timing Purpose  Distribution method Motivating occasion
  12. Types of Stories by Purpose Inform Persuade History or biography  Public Service Announcement Documentary or docudrama  Visual argument  Call to action Analyze Reflection on personal  Parody experience Concept analysis
  13. Types of Stories by Content Important People Important... Character  Places Memorial  Events Adventure  Activities Accomplishment  Discoveries Relationships Joe Lambert, Digital Storytelling Cookbook
  14. Topics for Educators’ Stories why you chose your profession or one of your hobbies memories of:  learning to read and write  learning to use a computer or go on the web for the first time  learning how to become a good student an “embarrassing moment” that was particularly educational an event that changed your attitudes about an issue or inspired you to fight for a cause a powerful memory about a pet, event, or friend an incident that illustrates the value of something you learned in school that you thought at the time would have no practical value
  15. A word about expectations We spend most of our grade school and college years learning how to write well, and yet very few master the skill well enough to be published, much less widely read The digital stories most of us make are not likely to ever be nominated for Academy Awards! One benefit of a workshop is to help you develop reasonable expectations for student projects
  16.  Brainstorm a few possible topic ideas for a 2-3 minute practice digital story  Consider what would give you the most hands-on experience (with a variety of media)Workshop TIP: Brainstorm in writing so you Step can add to it later
  18. Types of Assets Digital Media Sources photos & other images  archival footage video clips  media labeled for reuse audio clips  media used with permission narration  self-produced music & sound effects animations text
  19. File Formats File format needed depends on which app you use to assemble the story  such as iMovie, MovieMaker, PowerPoint Common digital media file formats:  Images: jpg, png, gif, tif  Video: wmv, mov, m4v, mp4  Audio: wma, wav, mp3, m4a
  20. Tips for Working with Assets Download, scan, or create images in highest quality possible Modify images in tiff or native image app format, not jpg  Save jpg format for exported version Name (or re-name) with helpful file names  But don’t change file extensions (like .jpg) For video, choose what works best with assembly app  May not be highest quality option
  21. Asset ManagementPLANNING TIP: Think ahead to develop astrategy for managing your assets, but remainflexible and experiment. Mac users: put assets into iLife apps (iPhoto and iTunes) or a folder Windows users: put assets into WindowsLive apps or a folder
  22.  If you brought your own assets, access them now.  If on a lab Mac:  Try putting assets into iPhoto and iTunes  If that doesn’t work:  create a new folder on the desktop  give it an appropriate nameWorkshop Step  save your files there (or work from a portable storage drive)
  23. Finding Assets Search for images with creative commons licenses or otherwise marked as copyright-free Images  Google Images, Flickr, many others Videos  YouTube, Vimeo, Audio ,
  24. Tips for Downloading Find the highest quality available  depending on 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
  25.  Downloading mp3 from
  26.  Downloading movie file from
  27.  Search for some usable media  download 2-4 images  download an mp3 audio file (optional)  download a video clip (optional)  Put files in iPhoto and iTunes or assets folderWorkshop  rename as needed Step
  28. For Later: 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 Create images in Photoshop, Illustrator, or similar apps
  30. 7 Elements of Digital Storytelling 1. Point of View What is the  4. The Gift of Your Voice A way to main point of the story and what personalize the story to help the is the perspective of the author? audience understand the context. 2. A Dramatic Question A key  5. The Power of the Soundtrack question that keeps the viewers Music or other sounds that support attention and will be answered and embellish the storyline. by the end of the story.  6. Economy Using just enough 3. Emotional Content Serious content to tell the story without issues that come alive in a overloading the viewer. personal and powerful way and connects the story to the  7. Pacing The rhythm of the story audience. and how slowly or quickly it progresses. From the Center for Digital Storytelling
  31. Traditional Narrative Techniques Show, don’t tell! Offer details of character, place, and setting  Include sensory details like taste, touch, smell, sound  Use dialogue to convey conversations Experiment with plot  chronological is not always the most interesting  start in the middle, not at the beginning  follow a narrative arc, not an outline Build up anticipation with foreshadowing Focus on a central theme
  32. Digital Narrative Techniques Let the images, video clips, sound track, and other elements do some of the “talking” for you  each element contributes meaning: images, narration, music, text, effects, and transitions  elements can complement or contradict your message, depending on the desired effect Go easy on the effects and transitions  use the most subtle unless the effect or transition is meant to convey additional meaning
  34. What is a Storyboard? Method of planning a visual composition by mapping it out scene by scene  Describe digital media clip, narration, effects, soundtrack, transition out, etc. Tools: PowerPoint, Word tables, Comic Life, Stickies, print or “virtual” index cards, etc.  lots of Word and PDF storyboard templates available online
  35. Storyboard ElementsStructural 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
  36. Storyboard Using Tables
  37. Storyboard Using PowerPoint
  38.  Sketch a few scenes for a storyboard  in Word or PowerPoint  in Stickies  on sheet of paper Storyboard contents:  Digital media clips  Narration or script  Effects applied to clipWorkshop Step  Music or sound effects  Transition out to next scene
  40.  Launch iMovie ’11  Click on the black star icon in the dockWorkshop Step
  41. Overview of iMovie Interface Event browser  for video clips recorded or imported Media browser  access to iPhoto, iTunes, GarageBand, etc. Project library  individual movie projects in progress Preferences  turn on Advanced Tools Keyboard shortcuts  press space to play and stop
  42. Create a new project Create a new project and give it a name Choose an appropriate aspect ratio:  standard 4:3 (good for archival footage)  wide screen 16:9 (good for new footage) Do NOT check the automatic transitions box May click on themes to preview, but leave “no theme” selected  Can switch to a theme later
  43. Adjust properties Go to the File menu and then to Project Properties Change Initial Photo Placement and Initial Video Placement to Fit  you can apply cropping or Ken Burns’ Effect later, to individual clips Adjust default photo and transition durations, if desired  you can adjust durations for each clip later
  44. How to Import Photos Finding photos:  iPhoto library in Media Browser  folder on desktop Drag and drop onto your new project timeline Drag to change order
  45. How to Import Video Go to File menu, select Import, and then Import Movies  Will go into Event Browser Drag whole clips or selection from Event Browser onto Project composing area
  46.  Take a moment to finish importing photos and video footage  Don’t worry at this point about sequence, duration, effects, etc.  If you have time, try movingWorkshop the photos around by Step clicking and dragging them
  47. Title Cards: Overview You can use title cards for:  The project title and producer’s name  Commentary or quotations  Any time you want a chunk of text in the project  Explanatory subtitles Alternatives:  Create slides in PowerPoint, export as images, and import into iMovie  Create text in an image editing app and import
  48. How to Add Title Cards Select the T in the media browser area and look through title card selection Drag a card to your project and release in appropriate spot, when green + appears  Cards can go between or on clips Choose a background for the card Type text  Adjust fonts if desired Click Done when finished
  49.  Create an opening title card and a closing title card  Also create other title cards, as applicable  Optional: Create a sub-Workshop title on top of a photo Step
  50. Transitions: Overview Transition effects ease the shift from one photo to another, which creates a more polished look for your project Use subtle transitions in most cases and save flashy ones for when they really count  Subtle: dissolves, blurs, fades  Flashy: spins, swaps, circles, squares, wipes
  51. How to Add Transitions Browse through transition options  Mouse over to see demo Drag a card and release in appropriate spot between clips, when green + appears Preview transition in project:  move playhead before transition  press space bar to play Can adjust duration and overlap, as needed
  52.  Apply a few transitions between your photos  Don’t worry about choosing the “right” ones at this point, as your goal is to play around and see what’s available  Transition types and durations can always be adjusted laterWorkshop Step
  53. Photo Effects: Overview EFFECTS TIPS Ken Burns Effect  Pay attention to the message  Panning: side to side conveyed by the effect! and up/down  Never let key person’s head go  Zooming: in and out off screen Fit  Slower is better Crop  Alternate between panning and zooming Rotation  Use “Fit” or “Crop” instead in some cases
  54. How to Apply Photo Effects Select a photo and click on the gear icon Select the Cropping, Ken Burns, and Rotation menu  Ken Burns Effect:  set the “start” and “end” points as well as duration Preview and then click Done when finished Also try Fit, Crop, and Rotate, as needed
  55.  Apply a few photo effects to your photos  Don’t worry about the speed of the Ken Burns effect at this point  Focus only on the placement of the image and whether you prefer it toWorkshop zoom or pan Step
  56. Photo Duration: Overview Your photos will all “play” for the custom duration you set in Project Properties (default is 4 seconds) You can set the length of time that each photo displays in your project using the duration setting TIPS:  Don’t set the duration until you’ve finished inserting all photo and video clips, title cards, and transitions  Viewers will get impatient if an image displays for longer than 10-20 seconds
  57. How to Apply Photo Duration Double-click on the photo whose duration you want to set In Clip Adjustments window that pops up, set the duration in seconds
  58.  Adjust the duration of a few of your photos  To preview, position the play head at the start of the photo and press the space bar to “play” the photoWorkshop Step
  59. How to Add Audio Browse audio options  iMovie Sound Effects  iLife Sound Effects  GarageBand  iTunes Drag and drop audio file when green + appears TIP: Don’t release while background is green or the clip will become an embedded soundtrack with no option for adjustment
  60. Audio Adjustments Click gear to access clip adjustments  Set duration  Advanced audio options Click and drag audio ribbons to move Use Clip Trimmer to trim TIP: Get out your ear phones!
  61.  Add a few audio clips to your project  TIP: You can layer spoken and musical audio tracksWorkshop Step
  62. Preview Your Cacophony  Click the “play project full screen” button Go back and play around some more
  64. Exporting: Overview iMovie regularly saves your project as you work on it, but you can’t share the iMovie file itself To share a movie with a friend or to upload it to the web, you must first EXPORT a web-ready version The resulting file will end in .m4v, which you can upload to most video hosting sites or share via Google Docs or Dropbox  The file may be too large to send by email
  65.  Go to the Share menu  Select Export Movie  Specify file name and location  Choose medium  Click OKWorkshop Step ... and wait!
  66. Sharing Options Upload to video hosting site like YouTube, Vimeo, or Google Docs  provide URL to video on site  use embed code on blog or web page  enable privacy options, if applicable Upload to CMS or web space  Make file available for download  Use custom-installed player
  67.  Log into account on Vimeo, YouTube, Google Docs, or Dropbox  Click Upload  While video uploads, add relevant info (if applicable)  Restrict viewing options:Workshop  YouTube: unlisted Step  Vimeo: password  Google Docs: share link
  68. Saving Your Project File Attach external thumb drive or HD and make copy of Project files in Project Library browser Do the same for Events Also save all downloaded files, if applicable Or, if you were really just goofing around, never mind!  All files on lab Macs will be wiped on reboot
  69. Resources For handouts: Please feel free to contact me with questions! Amy Goodloe