Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Stories don't all have a start, middle and end

I've been doing some work with digital storytelling, and as I've commented in the past, I think that any addition of "digital" to a term is largely a marketing or buzzword ploy. What the digital denotes isn't something that is advanced as it used to, but rather some more democratized workflow. So there are some things that are still being introduced to the digital realm, but for the most part "digital", "d" and "e" are being dropped as digital is now the norm with a few exceptions. I've also mentioned that the "storytelling" part of the digital storytelling seems to lock many people into a certain form of communication - a story or tale that attempts to emote to the viewer something about the still images that are passing by. This of course is not the limit of digital stories - they can be dominated by video, text or just audio (could a podcast be a digital story?? I think it could). Looking quickly at Bull & Bell's book Teaching with Digital Images shows that there are more than just the typical stories that the term denotes. All this was brought into a bit of focus when I made a photostory for my nephew. I used iPhoto to create a book (which I may get printed - I used this as a double shot to proof the photos for the parents and to test an idea with the iLife suite that I was trying to figure out. What I was trying to do was find an easy way to export the slideshows and books to video. As it turns out, if you share out to iDVD, the video resource gets written out as a Quicktime file in your Movies folder (at least in iLife '06) that you can use any way that you want in other apps. Anyway back to the story about ... the story... I was trying to tell a story about the first few days of Kiran's life and I think I've done a decent job - with many important firsts (or almost firsts) - but the part that was almost impossible was the music. Originally I was thinking about using Seal's Newborn Friend edited to match the length, but then I thought about not the copyright violation, but the idea of putting words to an event so beyond words. Thinking about the digital story aspect, the words that I would use for these images would take days to put out, so I decided on just an instrumental track (from Animal Kingdom) with rain falling at the start - he was born on a hot day and it's been raining for last few days (showers that is) so I think the music fit and because there are no lyrics, it can loop forever. I looked at it as something that should be taken as a whole, not as a collection of discrete, but flowing events. So now that I've done a few samples for digital stories (my trailers - here and here) I think I've started to get a handle on how to stretch the boundaries of this form of storytelling and I think that the best way to think about it now is not a short story, or a short film, or a documentary or anything in between. The way that I would describe digital storytelling now is that it's a way to use a range of digital tools to connect with content or events and in so doing hope to move others to understand a little bit more. Technorati Tags: