Tell your story

Here are three links I wanted to share with you in the area of storytelling, participation and citizenship:

1. http://www.friction.tv/
If you’ve got a webcam and a microphone plugged into your computer, you can contribute to this site. It partners with Channel 5 news and is a managable way to get your point across on video. The drawback is that it’s difficult to make a polished piece: good sound and light, memorising something fluid and engaging, looking comfortable in front of the camera, etc. Oftentimes though, the speaker’s passion shines through.
From Mandy Rose

2. http://voicethread.com/
A Flash-based online storytelling tool. You can add photos from Flickr or your computer, upload an audio recording and combine the two to make a digital story. Once registered, the site annoyingly nags you until you upload a photo of yourself. Because it’s a Flash console, you can’t bookmark favourite stories on the site. Best use of this tool is with group photographs where each individual in the picture gives their take on the set-up. Here’s a topical Haloween photo montage: http://voicethread.com/share/14089/
From DK

3. http://www.operationsoapbox.org/
Soapbox project at the Royal Festival Hall in London. I’m not sure whether or not what people say will be published online as video.
From Carwyn Evans

It’s about the story

I gave a brief presentation about digital storytelling in Wales on behalf of BBC Wales as part of last night’s RTS Wales Media Literacy Network event at the University of Glamorgan’s new Atrium building in Cardiff. DK of Mediasnackers blogged the session here.

I wanted to show a digital story called Set Free by Dean Byfield during my presentation. I invited Dean to come along and he and his wife Hailey were kind enough to come. There was heartfelt applause at the end of his story and Dean stood up and made a storming off-the-cuff speech about his experience of making his digital story.

Here’s an outline of my presentation from my notes ….

OFCOM defines media literacy as: “the ability to access, understand and CREATE communications in a variety of contexts”.

I’m delighted CREATE is in OFCOM’s definition; CREATING media is at the heart of digital storytelling

Q: What is a digital story?
A: briefly, it’s a two-minute broadcast-quality personal story made by the storyteller themself.

Making a DS for the 1st time often means learning at least two kinds of skills that may be new to the individual:

1. technical – this is the new skill which is most often cited in connection with digital exclusion and skilling for the knowledge economy
2. narrative skills – this is usually sadly underrated.

We’re here at the new Atrium, home of The George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling – Prof Mike Wilson and Prof Hamish Fyfe. It’s an international centre of excellence in storytelling.

I feel that the skills of organising and relating experience in the form of a story can be as important in the knowlege economy as the technical skills. These skills of storytelling are harder to learn than technical. Learning in a group – workshop of ten people – is what we’ve found works best.

Let’s watch a story

—– PLAY DIGITAL STORY – – – DEAN BYFIELD – SET FREE —

Introduce Dean and Hailey Byfield.

Process:
1. DS starts with a Storycircle – no computers for the first day.

2. getting down the story and recording it

3. taking and scanning images from own personal collection

4. using video editing software to synchronise images with the audio recording of the story

2,000+ across Wales
600+ at BBC Wales workshops
Thanks largely to the Assembly’s Communities@One – 40+ orgs with an element of DS in Communities first areas of Wales.

We’re forming partnerships with orgs like: Yale College Wrexham; Breaking Barriers, Blackwood; Sbarc!, Caernarfon, Coleg Sir Gar Llanelli; National History Museum, etc.

Importance to BBC Wales –

1. helping to promote media literacy in Wales
2. a self-authored voice for all kinds of people on BBC Wales’s web, radio and TV platforms
3. helping to spread the skills of STORYTELLING

Finish by showing another digital story, by Margaret Hodges.

Health and safety in public workshops

Here are some public H&S considerations for digital storytelling workshop organisers. I hope they prove useful.

Venue
– nearby parking and public transport
– accessibility for wheelchairs with no trip hazards
– accessible toilets and break-out spaces
– enough space, tables, chairs to accommodate all the equipment and people and to allow facilitators to move comfortably between participants
– power points along two sides of the room makes safer rigging easier.
– break-out spaces – because people will be working intensively together, maybe over a longish period
– check if anyone has any special dietary needs and request food hygiene certificates from caterers for your records. (Thanks to Lisa Jones for suggesting that.)

Rigging
– choose room layout and cable routes wisely
– use gaffer tape, ties and mats to make cables safer

Briefings

– give directions to toilets and break-out spaces as part of the housekeeping briefing
– warn about cables and other trip hazards
– warn that drinks and computers don’t mix
– fire drill – what to do if there’s a fire and give the location of the fire exits.
– ask that anyone who has any special needs in the event of emergency lets us know beforehand – either now or one-to-one after this briefing
– don’t rewire or adapt equipment
– seat yourself comfortably (say how) in front of your workstation and take at least a five minute screen break every hour
– using a mouse; it can be re-configured and moved if you’re left handed.
– tilting a laptop screen can improve quality of the picture you see on it

Working practices
– try your best to be ‘in tune’ with the feelings of people at every stage of our workshops
– make sure every team member has received H&S training. (BBC has a great one called The Risk Management of Productions)
– don’t allow a situation where one of your team has to be all alone with a workshop participant (storyteller). Voice recording is a good example. Have one male and one female team member with each participant and make plans so this can be done
– write and lodge a risk assessment for every workshop and write, lodge and maintain role-related risk assessments
– try to work alongside people as they use cameras whenever possible. Sometimes though, people need photos or footage to be taken away from the workshop in the evening or early morning. We brief anyone working with one of our cameras outside the workshop to take care with position and movement, especially with heights, crowds or near traffic. If applicable, we ask that people don’t record dangerous or illegal circumstances or events. We ask people to not to use a camera while walking backwards unless there’s someone else guiding them
– applying principles of diversity in recruitment of participants reduces some risks
– wash-ups after workshops give us an opportunity to discuss, learn and make changes to future models
– there are additional considerations when working with children, young people, vulnerable people and some other groups of people.

I’ve focused on public, not team safety here. If you think of other issues, please use the comments field?

Scottish stories

The first of BBC Scotland’s Highland Lives videos and audio slideshows are now live at http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/highlandlives/.

I watched two videos – To Catch a Lobster and Love to Grow. They were mainly video with some still images. They had some really rare moments and certainly revealed something special about the authors and their lives. Having the camera still – on a tripod – when the author was in shot yet often moving when they were out of shot reciforced the image of the author holding the camera and ‘calling the shots’. Having some still images in the video worked well too. The storyteller edits their own video in the workshop.

The audio slideshows I watched -  Travelling Post and Drawn to Water – were digital stories. The script is written and read by the storyteller. Duration’s a little longer than the 250 words used largely in Wales at 3’00”. There were cross-dissolves in places; I didn’t see a zoom;  simple is good. There was a lovely use of music on the ones I watched.

As a web viewer, being able to enlarge the video window to 200% is nice and I like the fact the storytellers retain copyright of their story.

Highland Lives have workshops soon at Grantown on Spey and Alness.
Congratulations to Liz Leonard, the Highland Lives team, partners and storytellers on the publication of these first stories.

18 things a digital storyteller needs

I’ve just updated my shopping list here:

brand new Aberth Digital Storytelling Resources

It’s actually the first page of a brand new sister website to this blog. Aberth Digital Storytelling Resources is a response to what a number of people have asked for: a site that brings together in one place all kinds of equipment and software that digital storytellers will find useful. I’ve chosen to focus on items on sale on eBay because it’s a great way of presenting current resources (like flashcard portable audio recorders) alongside discontinued software (like the digital storyteller’s old favourite Adbe Premiere 6.5 which can be installed on both Macs and PCs). I hope you find the new site useful. Please leave comments and suggestions here.

Freelancing opportunities

I bumped into Sue Williams of Hyperaction at an Adobe event in Cardiff last week. It was nice to catch up with her and hear about some very exciting plans Hyperaction are making. They’ve just put out a call for freelancers in the south Wales area which I’m pasting here in the hope it’ll be of interest to Aberth DS blog readers.

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HyperAction has been running award-winning multimedia projects with schools and the community since 1997. (http://www.hyperaction.org.uk) Due to a number of exciting new projects in development, we are seeking to expand our pool of freelance workers who can work with us on multimedia projects in a number of different ways – for example

Video recording and editing
Sound recording and editing
Music
Graphic design
Illustration
Animation
Photography
Multimedia production
Web design

Above all, you will need to be able to show that you have experience of working on digital arts / media projects in schools and the community.

Please send us a letter, introducing yourself, attach your CV and include samples of your work on disk. Tell us whether you use Windows, Mac or both platforms – we use both ourselves

E mail: freelancers at hyperaction.org.uk