Category Archives: timeless

How to use ‘swooping’ in your storytelling

I made a presentation to Cardiff Geek Speak this month and they asked me to put my presentation online. I haven’t put the whole thing here but I have highlighted  out one section, which looks at some of the elements that make up…

A great story

 E.g. Walking with Maurice by Hanne Jones on the BBC Capture Wales website.

·         Starts with one incident and work out from that.

·         Has a clear point of view (Hanne’s was a personal take).

·         Makes you give a damn – I can’t define how to do this, but I did care for Hanne and her Granddad.

·         Has the stepping-stone-effect: when you reach the other bank you can see where you came from and how you got here.

·         Is told to be heard, not read.

·         Works well even without visuals; would be a great radio piece.

·         Is just long enough.

 

·         Plants mystery bombs (“I found my soulmate” – who is that?)

·         Explodes each mystery bomb, when it’s time (“Maurice is not just my special friend; he is also my Granddad.”)

·         Reveals surprises: “we take time to walk slowly”

 

·         Has swoops of scale: zooms the imagination out from a teardrop at the corner of an eye to a sweeping forest vista.

·         Has swoops of emotion: “cries whan he’s happy … and when he’s sad”

·         May have swoops of time: Hanne aged 5, 15, 25, in the future, and then back again.

·         Sometimes has swoops of place: the forest, the garden swing, heaven …

 

·         Etc…

Peregrine Falcon AlaS 01

Photo by Paul Sullivan.

The guilt every photographer feels

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

Working with groups of more than ten people on their personal stories

Canadian digital storyteller Kent Manning contacted Barrie Stephenson and I recently with a question: “I’m conducting a digital storytelling session next month for a group of 26 educators. I value the story circle part of the process as this is the way I was taught by the folks at CDS. Would you have any suggestions for conducting story circle time with such a large group? Would you have individuals share their stories with the large group? Small group sharing perhaps?”

Here’s what I suggest:

26 is a big group. You could either split it into three and hold three storycircles or here’s a suggestion that may help.

1. Pair people up and ask each to talk for two minutes about ‘the most remarkable day of my life’. Their partner takes notes and will relate their partner’s story in the next step.

2. Bring neighboring pairs together into six or seven groups of four. The tell each other’s stories of their big day to this small group.

3. Bring neighboring quads together into three groups of eight or so people for the Love/Hate game.

4. If you want one preparatory activity with all 26 together, Gilly Adams’s Match Game is the one I suggest.

5. Back to the three groups of eight will be the best way to develop the stories each participant intends to tell.

For other Story Circle activity ideas, see also this page with seven articles about helping people to capture their story in a digital storytelling workshop.

Photo is either by Huw Davies or Carwyn Evans. I can't remember which, sorry.
Kent got back in touch afterwards to say:

“I employed a couple of the strategies you mentioned at my DS session in New York City. The group was a close knit bunch and all had very good working relationships so small group interaction as you suggest below worked the best. And then we gathered as a larger group to talk about our stories.

The teachers came prepared to the workshop with story ideas and photos, so we used the morning as a writers workshop and most folks had a working draft by noon. It was at this point we started our conversations and story circles in depth.”

If you’ve worked with larger groups and have tips or experiences to share, feel free to use Comments.

9 things digital storytellers can learn from Steven Moffat, Doctor Who & Sherlock writer

some rights reserved by (c) Stormsearch
1. Imagine someone with their hat on, their coat half on, stepping out of the door. Make them say: “I’ll just keep watching until I find out what this is about”

2. Have a big whallop at the start.

3. Start with a promise of something you’re going to deliver

4. Surprise them

5. Try to think of a brand new idea.

6. Keep giving them reasons not to turn off

7. Try to make what you do appeal to _everybody_, then you’ve a chance of making it somebody’s favourite.

8. If you’re stuck for inspiration: stare out of the window, think of something and then write it down. Do that again.

9. “A good day is one when I _finish_ a script”

(source: notes I took at a conversation between Steven Moffat and Huw Edwards at a BBC Wales event on 19 June 2012)

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

How your own hand can help you find your story

Here’s an idea you can try at the story-origination phase of your next digital storytelling workshop.

Ask everyone to place their hand on a blank piece of paper and draw round it, kindergarten style.

Ask people to write a line on each digit, in response to this:

Little finger: what’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far this year?

Ring finger: Looking further back in time, name one highlight of your life.

Middle finger: thinking of your family, what makes you most proud of being you? Did your grandfather have a fascinating job? Has your family made its mark in your town?

Index finger: pointing to the future, what would you like to achieve in the next five to ten years?

Thumb: what’s your philosophy in life? recipe for success? favorite saying?

In the case of someone who says: “I don’t have a story”, an exercise like this may help to suggest a theme for their personal story so they can script it or form it, record it and start making their digital story.
kindness - thumb

From Truprint to Facebook

Up until the 1990s, passing round a Truprint envelope full of 6″ x 4″ photographic prints was the norm; nowadays we publish our own online and ‘Like’ our friends’ photos on Facebook. Increasingly, that’s how we pass round our snapshots.

This is a great moment to capture that change in the way we share our personal photos.

From Snapshots to Social Media – The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography” is a new book by Risto Sarvas and David Frohlich from University of Surrey. David has a fascinating history in Digital Storytelling as the pioneer of Audio Photography and one of the people behind the StoryBank digital storytelling sharing project in India.

The book tracks the snapshot from darkroom to home printer and, although it’s more of an academic read than a light and general guide, it should make a great addition to the book collection of anyone interested in home photography.

From Snapshots to Social Media - The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography
From Snapshots to Social Media - The Changing Picture of Domestic Photography

How to get your short film seen by 500 million

When Newport University film studies lecturer and social action broadcast specialist Peter Watkins-Hughes went to Tredegar Comprehensive School students with an idea for a short film about teenage drink driving they said: “It’s not drunk driving that’s the biggest problem; it’s texting while driving”.

Peter didn’t have much of a budget, so he asked Gwent Police for help. They gave advice, use of their helicopter, their vehicles and their officers as ‘extras’.

When the film was shot and edited, Peter put it on You Tube so he could send a link to BBC commissioners. Within a week, the film had had 50 views. It then rose to 200. Then Peter had a call from a student: “It’s up to 500”
Peter: “Great, 500 hits is OK”
Student: “No, not 500 – it’s had 500 _thousand_ views!”

The video had gone viral. Soon 4m YouTube views had been clocked.

It was being shown in schools and colleges in north America. News networks like CBS were showing clips and it Oprah showed it on her programme. And, by adding estimates of those TV audiences, that’s how Peter worked out that half a billion people had seen part of his film COW.

Seven articles about helping participants capture their story in digital storytelling

The person who’s taught me more than anyone about helping people find their story is Gilly Adams. She was the main story facilitator of BBC Capture Wales and she shaped the Story Circle day so it was a close a fit as possible for the digital storyteller in Wales.

At DS3  in 2008, Gilly spoke in her keynote of the gift culture of digital storytelling “…where no money changes hands but the currency is the generosity of grace in sharing stories”. The person who hears the story gains two benefits:
1. they get a unique glimpse into the heart of the teller
2. they can often say: “hey, that’s about me!” and they get to reflect on that revelation.
An example of generosity Gilly gave was that of someone who comes to a DST workshop with a story in mind but, having heard the stories other people tell, they sometimes change their mind and say: “Actually, I want to tell you this…”.

Here are three links to articles written by Gilly for BBC Capture Wales guides: 1. Finding the Story; 2. Getting the Story Down on Paper; 3. Refining and Completing the Story

One of the funnest, quickest and most surprising story games Gilly introduced us to was The Match Game. I don’t know whether or not Gilly ever ‘wrote up’ the game, but here’s a link to my interpretation of her Match Game.

Another person who learned a lot from Gilly is Barrie Stevenson of Telling Lives. He has some useful guidance in Barrie’s freely-downloadable PDF which he wrote for BBC Raw.

On his blog, Barrie also recommends the first two chapters of KQED’s digital storytelling guide.

If you’d like to add your own suggestions, please use the comments below. I’m actually writing this post in response to  a comment by Becky Blab asking me to elaborate on step three of these six steps to sustainable digital storytelling project.

BBC Capture Wales Cipolwg ar Gymru bus cake
Gilly Adams ponders, third from left, lower deck of the BBC Capture Wales Cipolwg ar Gymru bus cake