Once Upon A Digital Storytime

I am presuming that by now, you have watched my ‘digital story’ and have formed an opinion as to the validity of digital storytelling and whether you think it is a viable method of disseminating information. Have I lost you already? The difficulty that I encountered when trying to work out how I would convey my message digitally was not lack of ideas, but how to package them. Well more like contain them. The brief was to convey something that we had covered in our media and communications subject this semester and tell a story about it digitally. A pretty interesting and challenging project which offered lots of scope for creativity.

The first issue to address was the platform on which to stage the event. There are plenty of these available which you can use gratis! You may be thinking that mankind is wonderful at this point however, there are the continual ‘now is a good time to upgrade’ pop ups which, you have to learn to ignore if you have no intention of doing so. Some of the platforms I looked at were Prezi,  which I had already used for other projects, and found it to be quite user friendly; A few of the other platforms I looked at were Animoto,  Storybird, Pic Lits, and Generator. In the end I decided to use Final Cut Pro which is not free, however I had this program on my list of ‘would be good to learn’, so I did.This was probably not the wisest choice for my stress levels, but that is another story!

I started with a storyboard. A storyboard is basically a way to communicate your ideas visually and there is actually a terrific program called Storyboard That which you can use to do this,  however as I am still hanging on to some of the old ways of doing things, I used pen and paper. What is so fascinating about media is the ‘everywhere-ness’ of it or perhaps a better way of expressing it is that it fills every space such as outer space. Media has that ability to give an extra dimension to speech which makes living at this time simply awesome. Sorry I have gone off on a bit of a tangent however I think that it is important to note at this point that the age of IT or Information Technology has brought about new ways of learning and expression that are changing how we absorb information. The presence of the internet in our every day lives has conditioned  us to filter huge amounts of information including visual information.

Images abound in daily life especially in today’s visually conscious world, with the average person bombarded by a multitude of images whether watching television or walking down the street. Crucially, it is this ‘ubiquity of visual messages surrounding our need to process visual information [that] has led to an emerging movement for development of visual literacy skills and spatial abilities’. (Mohler, cited in Foster 2008 p.22)

This quote is taken from a paper published by the University of Durham [GB] by Christopher Foster, who also remarks how ‘humans have relied on images to make meaningful interpretations and understandings of sophisticated and complex ideas such as mathematical or chemical formulas, which reduce associative cognitive load through the visual’. Well anyway that is why using a storyboard can be so useful and in fact why the whole concept of digital storytelling is beneficial as it allows us to visualise quickly and accurately something which may have taken us thousands of written words to describe or understand.

By now I’m sure you are ready to race off and make your own digital story but wait, there’s more! After the story board I had to collect all the media I was going to use and store it in, yes, you guessed it, a digital file. This included actually producing a video clip which was to be incorporated  into the story, as well as finding intelligent information that would bring some deeper clarity to the visual nature of the project. Now what have I forgotten? Ah yes, the hardest part which most people have difficulty with, and that is the doing of the thing. I’m not going to go into detail here, only to say that the process was at least mostly challenging and sometimes totally exasperating. I often had to stop and find an online tutorial and teach myself how to actually do the thing that I wanted to achieve. In the end I got there with patience and perseverance; and to those who were waiting for me to finish ‘Thank you’.

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