The Cardiff Story digital stories

I went to the screening last night at the Atrium in Cardiff of 13 new digital stories, made to be exhibited at The Cardiff Story – a museum about the city which opens in autumn 2010.

The stories were broadly all on the theme of the views about Cardiff of people living in the Valleys of south Wales. They’re a collaboration between The Cardiff Story, University of Glamorgan’s George Ewart Evans Centre of Storytelling, Cardiff Council and the AHRC.

Only 13 of the stories were screened last night but they’ll all be exhibited at the Cardiff Story later in 2010, and on their website. What’s remarkable about this is that the stories were all facilitated by one hardworking superwoman: Mari Lowe.

Mari drew groups of people from common communities of interest or area together to share stories. Then she worked by responding according to individual needs and within resources – often one-to-one to help everyone complete their story. She says she learned a lot about this way of working from Katrina Kirkwood who works with Breaking Barriers and has worked with Rhondda Lives. The storytellers were invited to the screening of their stories and a bus was organised from the top of the Rhondda Valley down to Cardiff, stopping along the way to pick up storytellers.
Further screenings are being organised in towns and villages in the Valleys.

Two of the stories struck me as being really different in their approach:
– there was a story about a museum exhibit made by the donor of two family heirlooms: delicate tumblers bought and engraved at the Great Exhibition in Cardiff in 1896. This form of story is one that other museums may find useful, especially if the donor’s story is exhibited alongside the artifact.
– there was a family story made by two teenage sisters and their young mother. Listening to this reminded me of an audio story like StoryCorps’s. At times it was difficult to tell who was speaking, but I’m interested in seeing how Mari and her co-workers develop this of digital story form in future.

Last night was a celebration of stories, attended by many of the storytellers and their proud family members and friends. To give you a taste of the night, here’s one of Mari’s Cardiff Story digital storytellers Melanie, with her story ‘Happy Days’.

Happy Days from Cardiff Story on Vimeo.

Seven things to avoid when making a digital story

1. Telling your story in a straight line

2. Fancy video effects

3. A less than perfect voice recording

4. Corny visual cliches

5. Nothing but show and tell

6.  Twee rhyming poetry

7.  Using other people’s stuff

As you can see as you follow the links, I’m doing a little recycling here because the individual articles are reprised. But this is the first time I’ve laid these out as a Top 7 of digital storytelling tips.

If you find this Top 7 useful, tell other people by linking to it, re-tweeting or pasting the address into your Facebook update. And happy digital storytelling. Thanks.

Written and first published by Gareth Morlais on  13 July 2010.

Digital stories and emergency management for schools

Digital stories about bush fires in Australia are now being used as learning materials in that country’s schools. There are ten stories about natural disasters like fire and flood – all based on actual experiences. There’s also a freely-downloadable pack for teachers. The digital stories were facilitated by ACMI, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and it’s great to see digital storytelling being used in this way. To see the stories and read more about this:…


Home movies meet digital stories

Do you know of examples of media forms that mix home movies with digital storytelling to add a personal-viewpoint narration to a home movie? If you do, please can you add a link to the comments below? (Don’t worry about the error message when you send the comment; I seem to be picking up all the coments OK, This is one of the joys of my WordPress comments plugin).

I’m asking the question because an Umbrian researcher called Simona Bonini Baldini is spending the summer based here at BBC Wales investigating the BBC Capture Wales model and seeing if this kind of digital storytelling method might be mixed with the rich archive of home movies digitised and stored in her Umbria Region in Italy. There’s a link to a charming home movie about Africa belonging to Simona’s own family from this page in Italian.

Simona would also like to speak with others in Wales and nearby who have ideas on this subject. If you prefer to send a direct message, please email me at melynmelyn (at) gmail dot com and I’ll put you in touch  with Simona.