Adding Impact to Digitally-Filmed Stories - Tech Learning

Adding Impact to Digitally-Filmed Stories

--> from Educators' eZine When word processors first came on the scene, teachers were happy to get typed papers from students and were willing to overlook minor transgressions in technology and writing. However, word processing
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0

from Educators' eZine

When word processors first came on the scene, teachers were happy to get typed papers from students and were willing to overlook minor transgressions in technology and writing. However, word processing has become so commonplace that we all have raised our expectations.

The same phenomenon occurs with the production of digital stories. Initially, the concept was so thrilling, that any product was viewed as a "masterpiece." But now, teachers and students are becoming more savvy in the teaching and creation of digital stories.

Advanced Thinking DOES NOT mean more technology.

Creating superior digital stories lies more in metacognition than in manipulation. Most editing software comes equipped with a plethora of transitions, visual and audio effects, background music and text styles. When turned loose on all these choices, many students cram as many effects as humanly possible into their three-minute story. When asked why, students usually shrug their shoulders and respond "They look cool." I have adopted two theories that have greatly enhanced the quality of stories. First, my students can use effects, as long as they understand and can justify why each effect is used. The second is simply "Less is more." Developing awareness of each effect is the key.

Movement (panning and zooming) can add a dynamic feel to still shots and can aid in developing plot, revealing character, or creating a dramatic effect. Since I allow only stills in DST projects, I encourage the use of movement judiciously. The first step is to teach the effect of each movement. Next, is to create an awareness of the interplay between movement and narration. Usually, most student-generated movement is far too fast. Subtle and slow is the way to go.

  • Slow zoom out gives an object a sense of place or setting. It also gradually reveals information that can be intriguing to the viewer.
  • Slow zoom in gently focuses the viewer and draws attention to a particular object or person. Carefully coordinating the zoom with narration is critical. Occasionally, a quick zoom in can add a dramatic effect that abruptly jerks the audience to pay attention to something on the screen.
  • Panning has a different effect from zooming. A pan creates an illusion of a storyboard, revealing information as it coincides with the narration. Again, slow is usually better. One note: most times, a left-to-right pan is preferred. Use right to left only to create an "uncomfortable" effect for the viewer. This phenomenon stems from the fact that our eyes have been trained to move left to right from years of reading. Right to left is unnatural to our eyes.

Of course the variety of movement is endless. Always have students reflect on the purpose for each movement.

Transitions can be a real trap. Remember those Powerpoints with a different transition for each slide? The truth is, most transitions are distracting. The key is teaching the purpose of the "Big Three" and show students how to choose. I tell students to think of transitions as punctuation marks.

  • A cut (or no transition) is like no punctuation, or at most, a comma.
  • A dissolve (or a cross fade) is like a period.
  • A fade to black is closest to an "enter" or a new paragraph, suggesting a change in thought or time passing—the longer the black, the longer the ellipsis.

On the rare occasion, a more complex transition can be effective. I saw one story in which a student used vertical bars coming down to transition to someone ending up in a jail cell. The key is, he had a reason for doing it, and, incidentally, it was the only other complex transition he used. He was aware of the meaning the transition conveyed.

Decisions about sound range from voice-over considerations to soundtrack and, yes, even sound effects.

  • Avoid Redundancy. This is one of the first areas on which I focus. I have students spend time editing stories to make sure that they eliminate words whose meaning is already conveyed with an image. In other words, there is no need to describe the color of the ocean if the picture is there.
  • Pacing. Students need to slow down to allow viewers time to process images. I try to have them understand that nothing adds more to meaning than to start the voice over at least one full second after the image appears. Again this allows the viewer time to process the information. I tell students, "You know your story, but your audience does not."
  • Soundtrack. Rule One: instrumentals only. Lyrics tend to distract from the narration—the heart of the story. One thing to keep in mind: it is not essential to have music throughout the story. A break in music can add drama to a piece, especially at the turning point in the story. Students also want to know if it is beneficial to use several different songs in a story. Once again, I go back to asking them why and to emphasize the "less is more" philosophy.

Other factors Other considerations involve titles, text, split screens, and image augmentation (sepias, negatives, etc). Keep in mind, that true digital storytelling is a writing experience bolstered by images and sound. If we focus more on good writing and the essence of sharing the story, then the technology becomes a tool and not the focus.

Email:Jon Orech

Featured

Related

Tips For Digital Story Telling

from Educators' eZine --> Not too long ago very few educators had ever heard the term "Digital Storytelling" and probably thought that "DST" just meant "Daylight Savings Time." But last month I attended a conference featuring over

Photo Story 3 for Windows

Tip: Breathe life into your digital photos by adding music, narration, motion, and more using Photo Story 3 for Windows. Go to “Photo Story 3 for Windows” to download the free program. Note, however, that it is recommended for Windows XP with 512 MB RAM. It will allow you to: Capture your

Making Book Trailers with Photo Story 3

from Educators' eZine --> and "Zack's Alligator goes to School" links to --> Here's a handy tutorial for using Microsoft's free Photo Story 3 to create "Book Trailers" – and other projects using photos to tell a story,

Stories of Hope

Stories of Hope This site from the American Cancer Society provides the reader with inspiring words of hope from people who have battled all types of cancer and want to help others by making their stories known. American Cancer Society • Pictures and/or Illustrations • High

Stories of digital success promo image

Stories of digital success

 Discovery Education has created a Web site that features digital curricula success stories from Indianapolis Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Schools and others.

We Survived a Japanese Film Documentary promo image

We Survived a Japanese Film Documentary

    By Frank Rudnesky, Ed.D.  They followed me around for a week and when they weren’t following me around, I followed them. A team of Japanese documentary filmmakers recently visited our school to do an exposé about technology integration

Film School's in Session

Note: To find out more about the Best Buy Te@ch Award go to Best Buy, scroll all the way down to “Company Information” and click on “Community Relations.” In the “Best Buy Programs” window look for and click on ‘Te@ch.” Applications for the 2005 awards are due by