Someone else’s kit

This is a checklist for someone who’s been asked to train people at a centre to make a digital story and to leave some skills behind so people at that centre can continue to make stories after the initial trainer’s moved on…

I wouldn’t expect every machine at most centres in this country to be capable of producing video. That may not be a problem though. Here are examples of questions to ask about the computers:

– got both Firewire and USB 2 ports?
– got more that 512MB of ram?
– got soundcard and video card?
– got hard drive of more than 40GB?
– got DVD burner?
– are administrator permissions set up so video can be stored and produced?
– got the same software as in the instruction manuals left behind there?
– etc.

Video training

If you’re planning to train people to include video clips in the form of ‘pieces to camera’ in their digital story or ’short’, there’s a lot people need to learn:

– how to feel comfortable and come across as well as they can on camera
– how to say something that’s engaging for the viewer
– how to set the camera up to record video
– how to set the camera up to record audio
– how to frame their shot and not move or zoom the camera
– the possible importance of taking covering shots and to tell the full story in the overall visual narrative
– etc., etc.
– how to review and check everything before deciding all necessary rushes are there and that ‘it’s a wrap’.

You’ll probably need to allow at least a day for all that.

Audio Storytelling Legacy Setup

Someone asked me this week about setting up and training people to run audio storytelling workshops on someone else’s equipment. It’s best to be prepared for the unexpected. The biggest challenge is often the fact that machines are ‘locked down’ by the administrator.

To work around potential permissions issues when working on computers in community cyber cafes, libraries and educational establishments, buy a dozen, fast, USB memory sticks. Paste some portable applications in one directory on the stick and make another directory for people to record their sound. There could be a third directory containing the ‘tutorial audio’ which everyone will use to learn to edit audio together. Then ask people to plug in this stick and use it instead of the PC’s hard drive.

It would be better to use M-Audio Microtrack recorders than mini-discs if the budget will stretch to that, because audio rushes can be dragged in file form faster than real time and time will be of the essence in your workshops.

Here’s a download link (click on ‘website’) are some instructions for setting up Audacity to work on a USB stick: http://www.portablefreeware.com/?id=648 or on a portable flash card via a card reader.

Good housekeeping in Digital Storytelling

File and folder housekeeping is really important when it comes to building, re-building and archiving your Digital Story movie-file and associated assets. It’s worth emphasising this. Devise a way of working whereby all the components of the Digital Story fit in named sub-folders of one master folder which has the storyteller’s full name on it. When you’re helping someone to make their Digital Story, ask them to make sure that none of their images, sounds, videos or project files are anywhere other than in their named folder or in its sub-folders.

When you follow this simple guideline, it should be possible to burn that folder onto a disc and re-build the entire story on a different computer.

Ten things to show someone who has never used a computer before

When helping others to make their first Digital Story, you may work with people who’ve never used a computer before. Here’s a checklist of ten of the first things you need to know about if you’re unfamiliar with computers:

1. How to switch your computer on and off.
2. How to sit comfortably; tilt the screen to optimise the quality of the picture you see on it; take screen breaks for eyes and posture; be aware of trip hazards like cables.
3. How to using a mouse; it can be re-configured and moved if you’re left handed. (Try to remember how it felt the first time you used one).
4. Discuss key differences between PC, Mac and Linux if applicable.
5. How to move a folder on your desktop.
6. How to re-name a folder using only the characters a-z, 0-9, _, – and using no spaces or other characters.
7. How to open and close a folder.
8 How to re-locate an opened folder window.
9. How to re-size an opened folder window.
10. How to minimise or hide everything so you can see your desktop.

Streaming Media Europe presentation

Presentation at Streaming Media Europe 2006 about Managing Digital Assets, taking Digital Storytelling as a case study, by Gareth Morlais – BBC Wales Digital Storytelling.
Digital Stories are two minute personal films created by the storyteller, using their own photos words and voice.

Slide 1 – The Any List
Rights management becomes easier if you brief authors before production. Digital Storytelling is no different to any other form of content production. Here’s the advice we give:

ANY photos or clips of ‘other people’s children’?
ANY sensitive issue involving a third party in relation to violence, abuse, sexuality, unhappy family background, marital problems, privacy, fairness, etc. which might cause hurt to them or to anyone else now or in the future?
ANY more than 30 seconds of commercial music?
ANY non-commercial music by family or friends?
ANY photos by anyone other than you, your family or friends?
ANY scans or images from newspaper or magazine articles, CD or book covers, the internet, works of art, etc?
ANY grabs or clips of any video other than your family home videos?
ANY scans of maps?
ANY quotes, poems or lines of text written by other people outside your own family?
ANY libellous content?
ANY company brands named or shown?
FINALLY has the impact of your story on the safety of other people, especially children and young people, been considered?

Workflow from submission to publication:
If a video clip (Digital Story) is submitted from outside the publishing organisation, establish ownership, formalise partnership and reach agreement regarding relationship and licensing. View and assess the clip, conduct a rights audit, but don't clear rights yet. For chosen clips, get consents needed to exhibit (rights-holder’s, storyteller’s and also parents/guardians of under-18s). Clear rights and address other third party issues, then publish. Finally, inform storyteller it’s live.

SLIDE 2 – Dream Deliverables
When it comes to physically managing the assets, here’s a model called Dream Deliverables which we’re looking at for Digital Storytelling:

One data DVD containing three files:
1. full-sized movie file
2. text transcript
3. metadata.txt

Example of content of metadata.txt:

1. statement of copyright holder
2. storyteller name + contact details
3. OK to pass on story + contact details?
4. copyright log
5. any under-18s identifiable?
6. etc.

I showed the following three Digital Stories:

Dai Evans – Two Families

Amy Broadstock – Wintergreen Allan Jeffreys – A Dog’s Life

Mass Media 2.0

Today, we’re still in the first phase of broadcasting in Britain: Mass Media 1.0, where the content agenda is being firmly ruled by the broadcasters. Currently, broadcasters’ portfolios are being drawn up by too few people and audiences are not yet getting a diverse and surprising enough portrayal of life on their TV screens. What we need on TV in Britain is to make the change to Mass Media 2.0, where the audience originates a higher percentage of the broadcaster’s ‘agenda’.

We’ll then be in a position where broadcasters are more able to act as facilitators, commissioners, and clearing/publishing houses for content made and submitted by their audiences, as well as authoring their own content.The Mass Media 2.0 environment will offer individuals a voice on the mass media which has been less-mediated and less-filtered by the broadcasters.

Practically, when Mass Media 2.0 happens, there’ll be hundreds – maybe thousands – of people around Britain who are trained, equipped and incentivised to submit content to broadcasters. And their work will be being enjoyed and valued by the broadcasters’ audiences. Broadcasters also be publishing licensed content from its formal partnership organisations in the community, as well as by independent producers. The challenge will be to devise inclusive media forms which make it possible for almost anyone to make their contribution; inclusive forms like Digital Storytelling.

Slaves tell their stories

Slave Narratives: a Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves. Arkansas Narratives Part 3. Published Washington 1941

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/13700

William Guess, Memphis, was 68 when interviewed by Irene Robertson Persons in the late 1930s:
“I was born in Monroe County, Arkansas. Father come from Dallas, Texas when a young man before he married. Him and two other men was shipped in a box to Indian Bay. I’ve heard him and Ike Jimmerson laugh how they got bumped and bruised, hungry and thirsty in the box. I forgot the name of the other man in the box. They was sent on a boat and changed boats where they got tumbled up so bad. It was in slavery or war times one. White folks nailed them up and opened them up too I think.”

Online audio recording tools

If you want to post an audio blog on the move or are desperate to record a voice track for a digital story, but don't have access to voice recording facilities on the computer you're using, here are three sites which will let you record audio via your phone:

http://www.gabcast.com – The free package seems to offer plenty. You can use London voicemail number 0207 1002530 (UK, London number with very smarmy voice asking for account number) and VoIP.

http://www.gcast.com/ – Free. Two ways of making an audio file: uploading your own mp3 file and dialling a US phone number. There's podsafe music available for use too.

http://www.hipcast.com/ – This is only free for seven days; it's 5-50 UDS/month thereafter. You can either phone in, use VoIP or upload a file you've recorded locally on your own computer.

The sites all have ways of publishing what you record as an audio blog. At first glance, Gabcast looks the most promising, because of that UK phone number. I haven't registered with any of these, so I don't know whether or not they have online audio editing tools. I haven't studied the terms and conditions either – I'd like to check where the ownership of the completed audio rests.

Source for the three links: http://www.boingboing.net/2006/10/05/audioblogger_rip.html