Final Project

This is a length post… Please Read it all!

For your final, you will be creating a personal essay. This is a digital story on a topic about which you are PASSIONATE! It is Not about You… it is about something else that deeply interests you. Stories about you will be boring (remember that party where someone just went on and on about themselves?) Stories about things you are interested in… sailing, photography, movies, the olympics… interest other people.

You will create all of this using your own material:

  • The music you use MUST be royalty free or original work.
  • The photographs and/or video MUST be your own or in the public domain.
  • All sources must be credited (including yourself) on the final Credits section.
  • You must keep the piece to under three minutes.
This is a test of your ability to learn how to solve problems creatively and mix and mash applications to get a job done on time meeting all the criteria. At this point in the semester, you know you can do that!

Week One: Pre-production

Individually, explore the following websites:

Read Joe Lambert’s Digital Storytelling Cookbook.
View Color, Shape and the Division of Space as an example.

In small groups, discuss what makes an effective digital story.

First Assignment:

Write a one-hundred to two-hundred word draft of a narrative about your topic. As you will be reading this narrative aloud in a voiceover, it is important to consider the following questions:

    • Where is the dramatic moment—the actual moment in time when something momentous occurs?
    • What does this story reveal about the topic?
    • Why is it necessary to tell this story in this course?
    • Do you open by grabbing the reader’s interest in hearing this story?
    • Do you end in a way that suits your objective?

Write the three-sentence version of narrative:

    • Sentence 1- Beginning:
    • Sentence 2- Middle:
    • Sentence 3-End:

How do your sentences work individually and with one another to create a flow?
How does meaning build because you are reading it aloud?
How will you use your voice? How do timbre, speed and modulation affect the meaning?
How might images and soundtrack pull their weight and not act as appendages; in other words, why can’t this story be a radio story?

Class Workshop :

In small groups of six:

    • Each student reads his or her story aloud to the group.
    • Consider the power of constraints, of having to weigh every word when we only have one hundred of them and when they have to work in concert, producing more than the sum of their parts.
    • Provide feedback as to how the voice works, where the moment of greatest dramatic tension lies, where it is, perhaps, lax and hazy.


Edit and rewrite now that you are better at understanding the structure, the organization, the transitions, the ways paragraphs and sentences work alone and with one another.

Second Assignment:

Gather 10-30 images you might use, being mindful of copyright restrictions.

Questions to ask:

    • Why these images?
    • How do they contribute to meaning rather than look pretty?
    • How do they work individually and together?
    • How do they carry the story’s drama?

Write the three-sentence version of the visual narrative:

    • Sentence 1- Beginning:
    • Sentence 2- Middle:
    • Sentence 3-End:

Consider what kinds of images will help tell the story: literal or metaphorical, concrete or abstract, longshot and close-up, color or not, and how the images will move from one to the next, considering how an image is “a peculiar and paradoxical creature both concrete and abstract” (W. J. Thomas Mitchell (2005) What Do Pictures Want?: The Lives and Loves of Images, University of Chicago Press p. xvii).

How are you keeping in mind what Ron Burnett says: “In a general sense, the meaning of a photograph depends on the discursive efforts I put into it and on the tensions between my own interpretation and that of other viewers. This is at least one part of the creativity and tension of viewing, which encourages the development of a variety of different vantage points as well as contestation around the meaning of images.” (Ron Burnett (2005) How Images Think, M.I.T Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p.14)

Week Two – Sound and Image Production

Record your voiceover.

Consider how you want to include a music soundtrack and/or ambient sound. What kind of sound would help tell the story? What role does the sound play? Try out several very different kinds of soundtracks that create contrasting moods and tones.

Write the three-sentence version of the sound narrative:

    • Sentence 1- Beginning:
    • Sentence 2- Middle:
    • Sentence 3-End:

*If you are using copyright-protected music, your digital story may not be published or screened publicly. Try to create and perform your own music, or use appropriately Creative Commons licensed music.

Storyboard the digital story, exploring the repercussions not only of pushing image against image, word against word, and sound against sound, but image against sound against word. Think about the way someone “reads” a digital story: “Because users can click on a video clip, turn it off by closing the window, replay it, or skip forward or backward in the narrative, the use of video becomes a dialogically fraught element: it enhances, disrupts, complexifies the notion of narration itself.”

There will be a good deal of moving back and forth between images and sound… expect to rewrite and choose new images when that’s what the story calls for.

Week Three – Video Production

Combine the voiceover, the music and the images and video and create a draft video.

    1. Meet in your workshop groups to get and give feedback for the draft through an “evaluated showing” using feedback sheets produced by the group.
    2. Revise.
    3. Revise again, and present the video in class for community review.
    4. Write and post to your blog a self-evaluation of the project, including a reflection on the process, the product, and the learning about digital stories, collaboration and the course

Final Due date Thursday 18th


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