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Create A Digital Story

What is digital storytelling?

Digital Storytelling is a form of digital media production that combines audio, images, and video clips to tell a story or present an idea in two-to-four minutes.

Digital Stories can be used to:

  • Explain a concept
  • Reflect on a personal experience
  • Retell a historical event
  • Make an argument or share a perspective;

The three types of digital stories

There are three main types of Digital Stories:

  1. Personal Narratives
  • The most popular form of digital storytelling, personal narratives are stories that recount events in one's life.
  • Used to reflect on where we have been, what we have learned, moments of change within our lives, and to illustrate our journeys of discovery.
  1. Historical Documentaries
  • Stories that examine dramatic occurrences that help us understand events in the past.
  • Requires conducting research and synthesizing a large amount of information into a tight narrative that forms an argument or presents a perspective.
  1. Content Area Stories
  • Stories that inform or instruct the viewer about a particular concept or practice.
  • Delivers instructional content in areas such as culture, mathematics, science, language arts, medicine, and more.

Digital storytelling tutorial

This tutorial has multiple modules to help work your way through the steps below, including

  • What is Digital Stoytelling
  • Scripting + Storyboarding
  • Finding Media

Step 1: Planning your digital story

Because Digital Stories are typically two-to-four minutes in length, it is important that the topic of your story is well focused and scoped appropriately. Think about digital stories as a single chapter in a book, rather than an entire novel.

When planning your digital story, consider the following:

  • What kind of Digital Story do you want to create (personal, historical, or instructional)?
  • What insight/lesson do you want to share?

Beginning your Digital Story:

  • Brainstorm ideas about potential directions and approaches to your Digital Story. 
  • Research your topic.
    • Find sources to help you to more thoroughly understand your topic and provide context.
  • If it's a personal story:
    • Ask questions of your friends and family
    • read journals or letters
    • look for photographs,
    • or anything else that may bring more depth to your memories.
  • Review what you have discovered and decide on the insight, lesson, and moment you want to share.

Resources to help you plan your digital story

Link to Video: Explore Your TopicLink to Video: How to Create a Concept MapLink to video : Four Steps to Narrow Your Research

Step 2: Drafting your script and storyboard

Scripting and storyboarding will help you plan out both the narrative and the visuals for your video, making the production phase more seamless.

  • Find or create a script template to get started.
  • Depending on your own personal process, some people find it easier to start with a script or a storyboard first. There is no right or wrong way to approach it.
  • Remember that this is just a starting point and you can (and probably will) revise and change your ideas as you go.
  • For inspiration, search for images or videos related to your topic and think about how they can be incorporated.

Writing tip: To establish a connection with your audience, write your script like you are speaking to a friend to make it sound more casual rather than academic.

Resources to help you script and storyboard

Link to Guide: Create a scriptLink to Guide: Create a Storyboard

Step 3: Get feedback

It can be hard to hear people’s opinions about your work, but taking the time to get feedback can truly make a difference in the final product. As you are getting feedback, remember:

  • It is not personal
  • It does not impact your value as a person
  • It is simply how someone has experienced your work

To help frame the feedback, and make it more helpful for your purpose, come up with specific questions: 

  • What do you think about the introduction? Is there anything that you would change? Do you think it is attention grabbing?
  • Is this language too vague? Is the audience able to follow this plot through to the end? 
  • I’m going to have repeated elements of red throughout the video. I hope I highlighted this enough in the storyboard. Do you think I should add more red to make it more obvious? 

You can also have more general questions:

  • How does the script and storyboard make you feel? 
  • Is there a distinct voice in the narration? 
  • Is the point of the story obvious?

Also feel free to give parameters to your reviewers: 

  • I really want your feedback on the structure and flow of the script. I’m really happy with most of the visuals I’ve come up with and would be happy to keep them the way they are. 
  • I’ve been really intentional with the sound effects and music. Can you let me know if it works with the narrative arc? 

Remember, getting feedback is to help you understand how someone else is experiencing your script and storyboard. It is opinion and you can take it or leave. 

Resources to help you get good feedback

Link: Handout: How to Give Awesome FeedbackLink: Handout: !0 Tips for Emailing your ProfessorLink: Handout: The Many Roles of TAs

Step 4: Finding and creating media

Depending on your script and storyboard, you may need to:

  • Record your voiceover
  • Gather or create images or video clips
  • Create or find music and sound effects

When creating your own media, start to visualize what your story looks and feels like.

  • Identify questions, ideas and insights that are central to your story.
  • Make associations - think of people, places, colours, activities or smells that represent your message.
  • Collect a mixture of media for different purposes: Media can communicate context, or create drama.

You may have done some of this work during your researching and storyboarding steps. In this step, you make decisions about what works best and if you need to find or create additional media.

Resources to help you find and create media

Link to Guide: Record Audio with AudacityLink to Video: What are Creative Commons Licenses?Guide: Find Audio, Images and Videos for Remixing

Step 5: Putting it all together

Gather all your media together and bring it into whatever tool you use to edit video.

  • Insert your audio voiceover first and then start adding images, video clips and other media to match the timings of your audio.
  • Don’t forget to include a credits slide to provide proper attribution to the creators of any image, video clip, sound or music that you used.
  • Once you’re happy with the timings and look of your video, you can export it and share.

Tip for assembling your video: Be flexible. Sometimes the way something looks in your head ends up looking very different when you actually try it. Video making requires that you rethink, revise, and make changes as you go. Allow yourself to play and don’t be afraid to let go of what doesn’t work.

Resources to help you edit and finish your digital story

Link to Guide: Make an Animated VideoGuide: Make Your Digital Media Project AccesibleLink to Guide: Edit Video WeVideo

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.