Writer's Web

Constructing and Recording Your Digital Story
Content by Maggie Burch
Converted for the web by Amanda Haislip and Athena Hensel
(printable version here)

Finding and Organizing Images for Your Story

Finding the right images for your story is very important, as the visuals (and music, if you want) accompanying your words are what make your story stick in viewer's minds. Spend time carefully choosing your pictures, their order, and how long you want the viewer to see each one.

Another thing to consider is copywright law. Many of the photos on google images or imagur are copyrighted and require payment to use or modify. When making your story, try to find pictures which are free to use under the "Creative Commons" (or "CC") distinction. Here is a list of sites which offer images that are non-copyrighted. Remember to check the terms of use for each website to know exactly what their use policy is.
  • BigFoto has free pictures from across the world and allows you to search by category.
  • Geek Philosopher asks that you link back to their webpage when using their images, and not to redistribute photos.
  • Flikr allows you to search for CC images in their Advanced Search bar
  • FreeImages is a UK site with free stock photos and tips on editing resolution and getting the best out of your images.
  • Free Photos Bank grants users non-restrictive, non-transferable lisence to use their pictures; they also offer detailed information about each picture.
  • Free Stock Photos has pictures in a number of sizes for use on personal or commercial projects.
  • FreeMediaGoo has an assortment of images, audio, Flash, and textures for personal use (excluding pornographic, propaganda, or "suggestive" materials).
  • From Old Books provides free images scanned from printed books. This is a good source for old illustration-type pictures.
  • Image*After provides free photos, images and textures.
  • Morgue File has over 50,000 high-res stock photos.
  • Photocase allows you to download three images per day, or more if you upload pictures as well.
  • Stockvault has over 34,000 free images and offers medium-size pictures for personal and non-commercial projects.

Recording Your Story

Once you have your story script, you need to record your script, find images to accompany your words, and assemble these elements together in a movie-editing program such as imovie. This can be a much more time-consuming process than writing the actual script, so it's important not to leave this to the last minute. Give yourself some time to "play around" with the program and get a feel for it before you begin working on your actual project.

Brian Satterfield suggests not only writing the script but recording your voiceover before finding images to illustrate the story. This will allow you to get a feel of not only the content of your script but the tone you've created with your own voice.

Because there are differences among the various movie-editing programs, step-by-step instructions for recording and constructing your digital story are beyond the scope of this handbook. However, the following are some detailed guides to using movie production software:

  1. David Gonzalez's guide to using iMovie for digital storytelling.
  2. The University of Richmond's Technology Learning Center's blog about creating digital stories.
  3. E-Portfolio Help 101's guide to making a digital story on Windows Live Movie Maker.
  4. Youtube video by sceptresurrey on making a digital story with Microsoft Photo Story 3.

While your script is the core of your digital story, the other elements - the digital elements - are also important. A beautiful, strong script can be ruined by a poor recording or a lack of effective images. Hopefully your script will serve as the driving force behind the creation of your digital story by guiding and inspiring you.

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Reference: Satterfield, Brian. Eight Tips for Telling Your Story Digitally.Techsoup, 1 Nov 2012.