I just really enjoyed the standard of cricket we were playing in, but particularly the camaraderie of the team Chris Despres - Blaina CC
Project supported by MCC Lord's and University of Glamorgan

Marylebone Cricket Club, Lord's Cricket Ground, St John's Wood, London, NW8 8QN | Project enquiries: Neil Robinson | 020 7616 8559

How to Create a Digital Story (1)

This is a brief overview of the classic Digital Storytelling method. I've put this guide into a pdf form as well for you to download and keep.

There are also lots of very detailed, step-by-step guides available on many other website. See CaptureWales from the BBC or tutorials from Daniel Meadows's website. Daniel Meadows has some really great guides that give step-by-step instructions tailored to specific software.

In this method of Digital Storytelling, you record your Storyteller (or yourself!) speaking from a script, edit the recording and select pictures to match. It is very simple and can create extremely professional and moving results.

1. The Script

If you are using this method, the most important aspect is the script, so spend some time thinking about what you want to say and the words you want to use.

  • Make it personal: an event that happened in your club that was important to you, a performance you were proud of, something that made you laugh
  • Use our Digital Stories, or some of the themes we've suggested, to get you thinking about your club and its role in the community
  • Use your oral history interviews for inspiration. Alternatively, chats in the clubhouse over a pint or when old players get together are great times for stories to emerge.
  • If you're writing a script - write it in your own voice, as if speaking to a friend. Use the language you would use in this situation
  • The great thing about this method is that you control the story. Stay on track - don't meander or go too far off the point.
  • Do remember to explain some things to outsiders, e.g. instead of just naming your local rivals introduce them with something like 'our main rivals at that time were ... club'; but also don't explain too much - remember that you have photographs to help you.
  • Keep it short! Digital Stories should only be 2-3 minutes long
  • Be clear, and be yourself

2. The Recording

If you have your script, this should be a pretty easy task. See also our page 'Oral History - A 'how-to' Guide' for technical help here.

  • As with your oral history interviews, pick as quiet a place as possible. You will be amazed what background noises get picked up on audio recorders!
  • Sit close to the microphone (although not too close or it'll sound distorted) and be comfortable.
  • Speak clearly, but in your normal voice at your normal pace - don't worry about finding a 'posh' voice or stopping any natural 'ums' and so on. This is all you telling your story.
  • Relax! There is no need to be nervous about this.
  • If you do make a mistake, then just pause and start again. Don't stop the recording - it's really easy to cut out the mistakes on the audio editor, as long as you have left this pause.

3. Editing

Using this method, you really have very little editing to do. Just touching up really. Below is the process you need to go through. For step-by-step instructions on how to perfom these actions, see 'Oral History - The Aftermath: Cataloguing and Editing'.

  • Firstly, select the entire track and normalise it. This will make the audio sound even throughout.
  • You only really need to cut at the beginning and the end - take out the part before your narration starts and afterwards. Leave a second or two of silence on either side. Any mistakes you made, cut out on either side.
  • Only ever cut at 'zero-crossing points' - i.e. when there is no sound (this is why I suggested you pause after any mistakes!) This way you won't notice the cut on the final track.
  • Don't cut out 'ums' or 'ahs' or hesitations, we want to hear your natural voice. Although I know we all hate the recordings of our own voices!
  • At the beginning and end of the track 'fade in' and 'fade out', this sounds much more subtle and professional.
  • After you finished, select the entire track and normalise the audio again.
  • Export and save it to a different file - make sure that you keep your original!

4. Pictures

Again, for more detailed help on taking and editing pictures see 'Photographs - Some Tips'. Just a few things here specific to Digital Storymaking:

  • Build your pictures around the narrative - use them to illustrate certain points or to help tell the story. You know the old saying...
  • I always like to start with a photograph of the person who is talking, so the viewer gets a good picture in their head.
  • How many pictures you choose is up to you. A really good image could be used for 30 seconds or more, or if the story is quick-paced, then use lots of photographs to keep this pace going.

5. The Digital Story

The fun, but fiddly part! This is where you need your creative head on and really think about how the pictures work with the narrative. But as always, let the audio track lead the way.

There are a number of programs to help you do this. Most windows PCs now come with Microsoft MovieMaker, which gives you most basic tools. At TTF, we use Adobe Premier Elements (available quite cheaply in a package with PhotoShop Elements), or if you use Macs, then iMovie is one of the best video editing programs around, and free on your machine. Instead of giving you detailed instructions on how to use each program, here I'll give you the basics. The help pages and tutorials available for all these pieces of software will be able to give you step-by-step instructions.

  • Make sure that you create your Digital Stories in the PAL Standard frame size format (720x576 4.3 interlaced - not widescreen). You can burn this format to a DVD and watch your stories on the tv.
  • Always save as avi files - these are dvd quality. You can convert them to something smaller then to upload online if you would like.
  • Save your project AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE. Certain editors can be a little temperamental so I would suggest you did this whenever you make a change - it will save you time in the long run!

Premier Elements editor. With this program, your preview screen is on the top left, you choose photographs and effects from the menus on the top right, and there is a timeline at the bottom for you to add audio and pictures to. You can drag the cursor along the timeline to preview at that point.
  • First of all - put your audio track in the first audio section of the timeline. Build everything around this
  • Using the 'timeline' you can listen to the audio and see exactly where to introduce new pictures

Close up of the preview and timeline screens in Premier.
  • Add pictures by putting them into the 'video' section of the timeline
  • Start with a title slide - give your story a name and tell us who you are! You can download the TTF logo in colour here or in black and white here.  Below is an example of a TTF title page. To download a template of this you can add text to, click here. We use the 'Book Antiqua' font if you would like to keep this consistent. If you want to create your own then by all means do so!

 

  • Your title side and your audio track don't have to start at the same time - a second of two of silence so the audience takes in the title is absolutely fine
  • Fit your photos around the flow of the story - try to change them during pauses for example. This will add to the flow.
  • As I said above, if the story is slow, then only use a few pictures, but if it is exciting or quick-paced, then use lots of pictures. You can do this to create a mood.
  • Make sure that your photos don't overlap - put them next to each other
  • In between pictures add a 'crossfade'. This stops the pictures from jumping from one to another and looks more natural (for details on how to do this in Windows MovieMaker see Microsoft Help)
  • End with a credits screen - and remember to thank everyone who's spoken or given you photographs - and credit yourself! Here is a Credit page template to download.

That's the bulk of the Digital Story creation! As you can see, most of the input is in the story itself and the pictures that you use to illustrate it. There are a few things you can do to jazz things up, if you would like, detailed below:

Animation

  • You don't need to, and not all movie editing programs offer it, but some animation (zooming in and out, or panning from left to right) can really add to digital stories.
  • Use it carefully - too much zooming or panning will leave your audience feeling sick! Try gentle, gradual moves instead.
  • We naturally think left-right, so this may influence your panning
  • Don't pan left to right and then immediately after pan right to left - again, making your audience nauseous is not the aim!
  • Think about the picture itself - zoom into the focal point. You can use the animation to simulate walking down a road or following the ball in a cricket match if you do so carefully.
  • In many editors you can use either the pre-programme effects or you can do it yourself by telling the program the position you would like the photo to start from and the position you want it to move to. The computer will do the rest. Again - your program's help pages can give you detailed instructions on this
  • Play about and preview everything you're doing - and remember to save as soon as you get it to look right.

Titles

  • In most programs you can add titles to explan what happens in each picture. Again - use sparingly - you do not want to distract your audience from the audio track. 
  • It is sometimes useful to put up names or dates of team photos, say, or batsmen scoring great centuries. Again, use around the audio track. If someone is being spoken about and the picture appears just as the narrator starts talking about them, you don't really need to add their name - people will work it out! 

Music

  • I would use with care. Not only are there the copyright issues involved (meaning that most commercial tracks could not be used in TTF Digital Stories) but also - music can change a whole mood very subtly. If you choose to use some music, do show it to someone with a musical ear and see what they think.
  • If you are using it, then make sure that it is much quieter than the narration - we want to hear the voice more than anything. You can do this on your editor.
  • Perhaps think about using music just at the quiet moments in the recording, rather than throughout the entire Digital Story.
  • As with any audio, remember to fade in at the begining and fade out at the end.

And finally:

  • Save your Digital Story - again in avi format and PAL Standard. In most of these programs you have to 'export' or 'share' it to save it in this form.
  • Proudly show to your club, upload to TTF and turn it into a dvd!

Phew. Give yourself a pat on the back. I know it can be a fiddly process - but it is a basic one. The more you make, the easier it will get!

Downloads