Digitally Mediated Storytelling Notes, Part I
[Updated to add Part I to the title.]
These are my notes from the morning session of the Digitally Mediated Storytelling workshop.
The “Digital Campfire”
A point to keep in mind: among other reasons kids don’t engage: many kids come to school to rest up for that night’s game session. So engage them in storytelling – not telling them a story, but telling a digital story about themselves – changes their attitudes about reading & writing
Good source: Grammar of Fantasy by Rodari
One way to start: “what would happen if…”
- you woke up as a dog
- you could suddenly fly
- everybody could suddenly fly
- the world was flat
- you could save the world
- what if gravity disappeared and you had to ‘save all the roller coasters and theme parks’
usable to build curriculum and meet standards
Digital cameras: if not available, use cameras in the students’ cell phones for this
Any object can be a story:
- toys as character (Toy Story)
- at the table – knife and spoon
- taboo or dark stories (Beauty and the Beast)
- Story of YOU: your obit, how you want to be remembered
- throw words at them:
- what if spoons were flat?
- a girl, a red cape, a wolf, a grandma, and a helicopter (throw a wild card into a familiar story)
- umbrellas were inverted
Seven elements of storytelling: (this from Joe Lambert’s Center From Digital Storytelling, with his approval)
- Point of view: every story has one
- No one narrates a story without a reason
- they’re told to make a point
- pattern of describing a desire, a problem that must be addressed by a central character
- POV drives the reader/listener to empathize with the character and identify with the story
- POV questions
- what’s the reason for the story?
- What is the premise?
- How authentic?
- simply making a point doesn’t necessarily hold interest
- setup – the dramatic tension
- how are expectations rewarded?
- girl meets boy – but will girl get the boy?
- must keep us involved!
- Fourth and twelve story: boy relates to dad through football; dad is late to championship game where son’s playing; killed in car crash on the way. Boy isn’t told so he’s not distracted; team needs big last minute score (fourth down, twelve to go) to win, and he makes the play. Finds later dad died at… fourth and twelfth street.
- Emotional content
- engage the viewer
- “Contrast and affinity” are essential; someone you’re rooting for and someone to root against
- resurrection tales: must find something that’s missing, something must be lost and regained (Comedy) or lost forever (Tragedy)
- Gain theory – people would rather gain something than have it – sometimes chasing it is the story
- think Cheers with Sam and Diane, and how the show almost jumped the shark when they got together; Diane leaves, the tension, and interest, and quality returned
- fundamental emotional paradigms
- death, our sense of loss, love
- loneliness, confidence and vulnerability, acceptance and rejection
- Power of Voice-over
- Reading vs. reciting changes the story
- too many get self-conscious, and don’t read engagingly
- tell them to “say it, don’t read it”
- have them do he project, then have them critique it and ask them “What would you do differently?”
- then have them do it!
- then have them include needed vocabulary, other concepts, etc.
- children love to hear their own voices, or a familiar one
- voice is a great gift – telling the story in your own voice; your audience hearing it will identify much more
- match the emotion
- sound effects and music
- don’t have scene/picture end as music ends
- music should bridge picture changes
- Supplemental to visual, or is it MTV generation-type where the visaul supplements the audio
- music plays on our perception of visual information
- Key: for these purposes, do the visuals first
- write a script about the pictures, rather than picking pics for a song (unless that’s the point)
- less is more, fewer words is better
- yes, we want them to write, but if the words are precisely right, only a few are needed
- if they can do this successfully, then the story is likely to be much stronger and engaging
- considered by many to be the true secret of successful storytelling
- rhythm of the story determines much of what sustains an audience interest
- vary the rhythm
- match the emotion
- or change it
- vary the speed
- rapid cuts and long takes and long pauses when they fit – and in a good story, it will fit
- lots of percussion, long smooth sequence
- make sure the vitality matches the emotional mood
Page to screen
- Screenplay is only an outline
- Have a theme
- Linear structure: beginning-middle-end
- Has a subject
- Student question: “Why read it if I can watch the movie?” “That’s their interpretation; what’s yours?”
- Make a “book trailer” – a commercial/booktalk on video: Digital Booktalks at UCF
- Storyboard thinking – visualize the sequences
- but often, students don’t need to do it first; get them going, then use storyboard as revision, to clarify point, pacing, etc (same with teaching, BTW)
- Who is your target audience?
- keep it authentic
- if it’s a digital booktalk from a 5th grader, do you need to fix a minor audio glitch?
- Likely not, for authenticity’s sake.
- Power of epic thinking, building to a big finish, a solid resolution
- see “Drive By” on the Digital Booktalk site as an example of economy
- peer evaluation helps a lot here; all do the same book, confer with each other
- good ones go on the web site, and they decide which ones are the good ones
- Good title helps set the scene
- Have a beginning-middle-end
- Tell visually… “text as a crutch” only when necessary
- Use transitions with a purpose
- Use color (as motif – red is significant)
- Use of tempo, length of time pictures are onscreen
- Music (Garageband, if Macs available) – Copyright issues!
- Credits – everyone gets listed
Showed several examples from kids….
Another book cited: The Call of Story, by a physician, (psychiatrist?) clients did better telling stories in therapy.
Showed some by homeless people too, who are irrepressible once they’re started…
Lunch break – new post for after lunch.