Category Archives: capturing assets

The guilt every photographer feels

Photographer guilt stems from the disarray of our photographic collections on various devices and  lack of legacy archive planning.

Back in the day when we used film and had our photographs developed and printed, there were two things that were different from today’s digital image world.

We were more careful about the images we captured because there was stock and production to pay for.

We could put our hands on our proudest images because we’d move them from the developer’s envelope into photo albums and scrapbooks.

Today, we snap more images. They’re kept on different places: phones, cameras, storage cards and drives, hard drives, laptops and in the cloud. It’s harder to surface the gems from this sea of images.

The guilt is that feeling of “one day I’m going to sort this and compile my pool of desert island photographs. The ones I want to leave my children which will help them remember the story of their father’s life.”

So why haven’t already done this?

stray cat in Istanbul
Stray cat at doner kebab stall in Istanbul May 2013. Photo by @digitalst

First written and published by Gareth Morlais on 4 June 2013.

A gentle introduction to Creative Commons for digital storytellers

Copyright in the old days:
All of this is owned by me, contact me if you want to discuss the possibility of re-using it.

Copyright nowadays:
You can still use the above model.


You can state explicitly and irrevocably up front that you’re happy for people to re-use your intellectual property in certain stated circumstances without them having to come to ask your permission every time.

This is attractive to those making digital stories who want the world to be able to share and re-embed what they’ve made. And a knowlege of this kind of license is useful for someone who wants to include other people’s work within their own digital story.

One model that’s popular is the Creative Commons licence, which has three axes:

1. Whether or not you want a name-check (Attribution or BY) for your work
2. Whether or not you’re willing for others to alter your work, or create derivatives. Risk: someone may Photoshop someone else’s body onto that image of your child’s face you put on Flickr. Three options here:
(a) If you want your work untouched, just passed on as it is, use NoDerivs (ND)
(b) If you do decide to allow alterations as long as the new author shares it in the same way as your original work was, you add ShareAlike or SA to the label.
(c) If you don’t care what happens to the altered work, no mention need be made of this on the license label.
3. Whether or not you care about others making money for themselves out of what is yours. This part of the label says either Non-Commercial (NC) or there’s no mention of it.

So a Creative Commons license which is labelled: Attribution, No Derivatives, Non Commercial means I’m happy for you to use my work without getting in touch with me as long as you name-check me as the creator, don’t change my work and don’t make any money from its re-distribution.

A more relaxed license – used by Wikipedia – is Attribution-ShareAlike or CC BY-SA. This is the license many of those lobbying governments to open up publicly-funded data would like to see adopted by governments.

Creative Commons is most straightforward if the thing you made was entirely made by you and contains no unlicensable third-party elements. So a video diary of you speaking your own words to camera in front of a blank wall is OK to label with Creative Commons. If there was a photo by Steve McCurry in the background, or some commercial music playing and it’s no longer ‘all yours’ and it might no longer be fair to pass the right on to others to use the clip.

So, as you can see, a knowledge of Creative Commons is useful for anyone involved in a diital storytelling project.

Source: – on this site you can read more about correct attribution, various international territories, comparisons between CC and Public Domain, etc.

Disclaimer – I’m not a lawyer; please don’t take what I say as legal advice.

Digital storytelling admin

I’ve just been speaking on Facebook with south Wales digital storytelling and community video practitioner Sandra Anstiss. She’s venturing into the private sector making stories with owners, marketing staff, customers, etc. and she was asking members of the Facebook DS Working Group for advice about consents and copyright.
I’d say there are three or more issues here…
1. The stated consent of the storyteller and featured subjects;
2. Some form of evidence that any third-party assets are OK to use (other people’s pics, music, etc.); and
3. Something that says who owns the finished digital story entity.
Once these are established, it becomes possible to license the story’s re-publication elsewhere, either exclusively or – as in the case of Creative Commons – non-exclusively.
In terms of a project’s ethos, due consultation and consideration will need to be given to sensitivities around possible hurtful comments online etc. YouTube comments can be cruel.
I wish Sandra good luck with her new venture and – adding a disclaimer – I do emphasise I’m  not a lawyer, so it’s best to seek professional advice.
P.S. sorry for the really boring headline to this story
Written and first published by Gareth Morlais on 2 June 2012

Learn how to shoot for the web and edit video archive mashups

Welsh media trainers Cyfle have two tantalising training courses which are open for registration now:

1. Archive Mashup
Learn how to mix diverse archive video clips and sounds.
A part-time course beginning 26 March 2012

2. Shooting for the web
Learn how to plan, script, shoot, edit and upload footage specifically for the web and mobile devices. Using Sony EX3 cameras, the trainer is Simon Walker. A three-day course from 12-14 March 2012

For details of course fees, application and selection process, go to Cyfle’s website. The courses are held in Wales.

Using your mobile phone as a digital storytelling tool

My friend Bethan is planning a workshop to train artists and business people in using their mobile phones to tell stories about the work they do and she asked me for some ideas. I had a chat and then sent her these four links and I thought I’d share them with you here too:

Vlog tutorial This short video tutorial is from one of the pioneering video blogging sites.

Great tips from the Video Nation archive.

Citizen media network Witness Video Advocacy offers craft and safety tips here.

The old BBC Scotland digital storytelling project Highland Lives offered this valuable PDF document with useful tips on planning your shoot and advice about getting good sound.

Free photographic workshops in Aberystwyth

Here’s news of a free training opportunity for artists and youth workers from Aberystyth Arts Centre. The Using Photography workshop takes place over three days: 27 & 28 September and 4 October 2010.

This practical workshop in B&W photography will explore good practice when taking and printing photographs, especially in relation to working with young people

Sessions are FREE. There are a limited number of spaces available.
For more information/to book a space please contact Tel: 01970 622338

The workshops are made possible by ‘Reach the Heights’ –  a major Welsh Assembly Government initiative aimed at reducing the number of young people in Wales aged 11 – 19 years who are not in education, employment or training, or at risk of being so.

According to the press release from Sophie Bennet, Aberystwyth Arts Centre will be co-ordinating three different projects with Young People through this scheme during the Autumn. These projects provide free training and mentoring for artists in all disciplines who wish to develop their skills for working with young people.

This sounds like a perfect opportunity for digital storytellers and facilitators in Wales.

How do you solve a problem like portrait?

Showing landscape-oriented photos and still images in your digital story is straightforward. You just crop, constraining dimensions to 768 x 576 pixels, or whichever dimensions you use. But how do you crop and display portrait-oriented images in your story? If you want full control over the way your portrait-oriented photos are shown in your digital story, here are the steps I use when explaining cropping and showing them.

In Photoshop…

  • change background colour to Black (usually)
  • Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool. When you click and drag out, you’ll notice the ‘marching ants’ around your selection
  • On the top Menu bar: Edit > Copy
  • Menu: File > New > Background colour (black)
  • Menu: Edit > Paste
  • If you need to rotate your photo. Menu: Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary
  • Image > Image Size > Res=150 > Height=576 (Constrain proportions)
  • Image > Canvas Size > 768×576
  • Adjust levels and Sharpness
  • Save as .tif.

I learned this back in 2001 from Joe Lambert, Nina Mullen and Daniel Meadows.  By the way, while we’re on the subject of images, have a look at these ace photography tips by Carwyn Evans on the Capture Wales site.

Bug eats VHS

Anyone who filmed home video from the 1980s -90s will is likely to have that footage in the VHS tape medium. I’ve just seen an item on a TV programme called Sunday Life which warned that fungus is attacking these old tapes. So now may be a good time to digitise these old recordings.

The way I’ll probably do this is to make real-time recordings from VHS to miniDV and then use Firewire to ingest that footage onto my hard disk where I can import it into an editing package and then render it out as a DV PAL file. I should probably use an open standard like DIV-X in an AVI container, because .mov is tied to the Apple Quicktime backward-compatability blind spot.

What should I do next:  burn that file as data on a DVD? Well that’ll give me up to another 25 years of not worrying. Until a story comes out warning about the flaking of DVD coatings after 25 years.

And then I’ll start all over again…
I asked an experienced editor once: “What’s the most future-proof medium for archiving digital stories”.

He replied: “Film”.