Saturday, April 14, 2007

Photostory Help Desk-Use at Your Own Risk!

With the publication of my tutorials and screencasts on Photostory 3 (both are available here), I've been receiving email requests for tech support on Photostory from literally around the world. It's been flattering certainly, and I really don't mind, but I'm pretty busy, so if I don't respond right away, that's why. If you have questions, and you would like me to take a look at your problem, email me at This certainly illustrates how connected we have all become.

Describe your problem as much as possible
Include any kind of error message
Include how many images you have used to build your story.

And just as a tip for two common problems:
Image names: no punctuation! Work with kids on properly saving files with correct nomenclature. Avoid spaces in file names (use underscores) and special characters.

Also, its a free program, and if you are building files with 200 images (and large ones at that), buy yourself a program capable of doing a video with that many images.

For the Flickr users out there, if you try and save a file that has All Rights Reserved, and no All Sizes button, and you download it, you'll get a file called Spaceball. Put that into a Photostory file and it's instant death.

Again, I'm willing, but it might take some several days to respond. I might be crazy offering this, but there is nothing worse than wanting to do something with technology, and having it go wrong, and not having access to some type of support...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Communicating Visually in the 21st Century

I’ve seen quite a few posts coming through my aggregator lately about video, and the potential of this medium on many different levels. That, coupled with my interest in digital storytelling, prompted me to create a series of belief statements about communicating visually in the 21st Century.

There is a biological basis for visual communication.
The auditory nerve transmits sound to the brain and is composed of about 30,000 fibers. Contrast that with the optic nerve which sends visual signals to the brain through 1 million fibers (Burmark 2002). Basically, you’ve got a dial-up connection from the ear to the brain and broadband from the eye to the brain. Teach kids to take advantage of the connectivity, and then teach them that…

Emotion, depicted through visual means, sells the message.
Students must learn how to convey meaning emotionally. That’s why digital storytelling, when done right, can be such a powerful learning experience. Anyone that has recently seen 4 Generations: The Water Buffalo Movie can attest to that. How many of you wanted to pony up $250 after viewing that? And take the recent video obituary (called the Final Word) of Art Buchwald at the New York Times where he says “Hi, I’m Art Buchwald and I just died” and they go on to tell his life story. Bizarre, yet powerful because of the emotion. Then teach them that…

The most powerful producer of visual imagery is the individual, it's you.
Digital cameras, cell phone cameras, citizen journalism, photos of the London subway bombings, of Saddam Hussein’s execution, of the sinking of the container ship MSC Napoli and 368,533,947 million photos at Flickr attest to the capability and absolute raw power of the individual to produce visual material and bring the world home. But simply producing this is not enough, because…

Individuals must be capable of working in multiple mediums to create visual messages, in accordance with the principals of visual literacy.
They have do something with that visual imagery and it has to be done the right way. Create. Remix. Mashup. Post to YouTube. Or use online content creation systems like JumpCut or Mogopop to create or distribute visual messages. Why is this necessary? Because….

Visuals, when combined with other multimedia, provide individuals with a competitive voice. One that can be heard. One that can be measured. One that says “here I am, and here’s what I think, here is what I have to contribute. Now what do you think?” Check out the three guys who did the AP Psychology Report on YouTube (via Will Richardson). How many teachers would be comfortable with this kind of product? And what would you give these kids as a grade? And producing videos like this becomes even more powerful, because…

Networks for sharing and collaboration extend that voice.
When one says something, all have the potential to hear. It’s about amplification. Make it go viral. Look at this video (one of my favorites), Where the Hell is Matt?. It’s 3:42 minutes of uplifting dancing by one guy, all over the world, and its been viewed 395,736 times. Could our students have that type of impact? So..the upshot?

Being visually literate is just as important as reading and writing and should be considered a fundamental literacy of a 21st Century education.

Would you add or change anything?”

Burmark, Lynell. Visual Literacy: Learn to See. See to Learn. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2002.

Posted also at the blog

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Photostory 3 Screencasts

I've finally finished the 11 screencasts for each step of the digital storytelling process when using Photostory 3. The screencasts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Where the &%$%# is Matt?

From Presentation Zen, is the video from Where the Hell is Matt? which is a very interesting digital story, although it contains no voice-over. I'm not sure why I like it, and what it all means, but it is strangely uplifting. What it does do is make a very nice use of imagery which is coupled with a very nice musical choice. Everytime I watch it I see something new; I also find myself somewhat envious of all the places he has been.

I'll probably include this in my digital storytelling presentations and ask participants about the ability of visuals to convey emotion.

There are some additional movies at the YouTube site that are parodies which are worth a look, but what I think is more important is the format displayed in the story. I'd like to see kids give this a try-with a different name of course!

Be sure to check out the look the first dog in Germany gives him....

Friday, June 09, 2006

Flickr Searching

Flickr is a great repository for photographs that can be used in digital storytelling projects. I checked tonight and it currently has over 168 million photographs indexed (it was just over 100 million in March)! So, with that in mind, how do you find that proverbial "needle in a haystack?" Flickr has recently improved the search capabilities of the site in a major way by adding Boolean searching, phrase searching, including and excluding terms, as well as several methodologies for reorganizing search returns. The new search capabilities also apply to the Creative Commons pools, which is a decided advantage for storytelling projects. I've created a Flickr search page at Jakesonline that explains it all, as well as a pdf document that contains the same information for downloading.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Fundamentals of Digital Storytelling

I'm working on a presentation that I will be giving at Texas Tech next week, as an introduction to digital storytelling workshop that I will be leading for three days. We'll go on from there to take participants through the entire process, where they will use iMovie to create their own digital story. With this intro presentation, I'll be setting the stage for the remaining three days. I've got examples of digital stories interjected throughout that illustrate my points, but here are the 6 fundamentals I'll be illustrating:
  1. DST Fundamental 1: Visual messages are extremely powerful. Humans are hardwired for visuals-the optic nerve is a T1, the auditory nerve dial-up.
  2. DST Fundamental 2: Digital stories have a universal theme such as loss, accomplishment, challenge overcome, etc. Because of this, every viewer can relate, it's not my story, but I've experienced that.
  3. DST Fundamental 3: Great digital stories have their genesis in high-quality writing.
  4. DST Fundamental 4: Digital stories are personal and give students a competitive voice in a mediacentric, information-rich environment.
  5. DST Fundamental 5: Digital storytelling is a value-added learning experience, and takes writing to a place it couldn't go alone.
  6. DST Fundamental 6: Kids have stories. Important ones. How will you help them tell the stories of their lives?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Photostory 3 Screencast Tutorials

Many of you have asked to use my Photostory 3 tutorial in your workshops on digital storytelling. I've taken the tutorial thing one step further, and have created screencast tutorials of the process of creating a digital story with Photostory 3.

The first four are present, with the remaining four to be finished soon. Additionally, the screencasts correspond with my original tutorial, so teachers can watch how to work the software, as well as have access to the printed document.

Here is what I have so far:

Tutorial 1: Beginning the Digital Storytelling process/adding your images
Tutorial 2: Removing black borders from imagery
Tutorial 3: Adding text to images
Tutorial 4: Adding your voice-overAccess the tutorials here.

Coming soon:

Tutorial 5: Customizing motion with pans and zooms
Tutorial 6: Adding transitions
Tutorial 7: Adding background music
Tutorial 8: Rendering your project

The screencasts are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivative license.Let me know how you like them.