Thursday, November 27, 2014

Keep It Simple - Digital Storytelling Chart

Well, I've passed the class and I'm in recovery mode. Lot of catching up to do and decisions to make.

In the meantime, I've been using Canva to create simple artwork. I like that they have a tutorial process to help users create better charts and social media signage. They also have free and paid templates.

Kinda cool.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quick Look at The Noun Project

How do you express a universal concept? The Noun Project is trying to create pictograms that can express a concept without the use of written or spoken language.

So, back to the question and inspiration for my project; explaining how to take medicine when the other person can't read or doesn't understand your language?

This is a video about the project:

Now, here is where it gets interesting. Researching my project I found out that many countries use pictograms in addition to written language to communicate medical concepts. If you are thinking of a rural African village, think again.

The pictorgrams concept is used in Ireland, India and in the Americas. Hopefully it will pick up steam in the U.S. but it is a process. So, how do you get your hands on them?

There are a number of ways. If you have Adobe Voice you are good to go, this is the service that provides the art work.

If you are on Android or another operating system then you can register at the site for a limited free account. On the free account you are limited to Public Domain images. You will have to hunt them down; they are not easy to find.

I was only able to download three a day but I wasn't trying to load the whole image bank. There are low lifers that would download and sell the images so I completely understand the restrictions.

If you need more you can purchase individual images or access the creative common images that require attribution. The pricing plan that starts at $10 a month. If you only are need an pictogram occasionally this could be a keeper.

Images seem to scale well in my video editing programs. You have to see if your software or app is accommodating to it.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On the Jazz - Making the Rx Video

No, I haven't punked out again. I'm actually on a deadline that I'm very excited about and it fits in with storytelling. Some of you know that I have an interest in making explained videos.

Well, I got the opportunity to take a health literacy class. For my final, I'm making a video on how to read a prescription label.

I've been knocking out the script and starting to gathering assets.  I will be using some of the pictograms that I have acquired  to keep it as simple as possible.

And yeah, I have a backup plan if I can't extract video from the software. You must have a back-up plan if you promise to deliver something to somebody else.

What else?

Even if I can extract the video from Adobe Voice I'll still be tweaking it up with other software; I'll need to add captions to the video. I'll want to add a resource page and a disclaimer notice.

So I may need to use a video editing software. I just upgraded to Sony Movie Studio Premium and got a bunch of other software like Boris and Hitfilm FX Home. I lack for nothing but time and sleep.

Actually I want to try three things; making the video with Adobe Voice, using Powerpoint as an animation tool and maybe making an explainer animated gif. I have no I'd how to explainer animated gifs but I do know that I have to turn in my project by next week.

Mind is going crazy with possibilities. Will keep you posted.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Quick Look at Com-Phone Story Maker for Android

Com-Phone isn't designed for people like me but I'm taking a shine to it. It is an Android app for storytelling that is designed for older smartphones and devices. It is simple; you can take a photo; add audio and text and then transmit the story to YouTube or via e-mail.

Now I really need to stress that this app was designed for folks that do not have computers, high end tablets and other types of gizmos. I installed it on my old Samsung MP3 media player that has Android 2.23 on it.

I think there is a place for people that want to compose creative projects but need to keep it really simple.

Twitchy but Ok

In Photo mode I was a little confused that the photos were reversed. They recorded normally on the device but when you take the photo the image was flipped.

I recorded audio using the app, it was ok but occasionally heard scratching. It might have been the quality of the mic or this might be more I was moving around. I'll need to do more testing.

You can export video out as a .mov file. I did a test viewing using QuickTime Pro. It seems that the display size is 640x640 and the audio is recorded at Mono at 8kHz; it does sound like old school phone. Well, that explains the scratching sounds.

Viewing Issue

I tried to view the video on my device and it wasn't recognized. It doesn't seem to be a variant of mp4 but straight up .mov. I saved it as an HTML file and tried to open with a web page. The plain vanilla browser would not let me do that so I need to install Opera on my player.

You certainly can export the video and work on it in your video editor of choice.

Before some of you get you panties in a bunch this software can be of advantage to folks that have limited devices and want to tell a story. It is also of value to those artists or poets that want to compose a work in sequential order without editing.

This gizmo has possibilities. More testing is required.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Creating Digital Stories - Essential Shots to Record

There are times when it is very compelling to stand in one spot and record what you see. There are other times when you have to change it up a bit. What can I say, people like variety.

In the spirit of the holiday known as All Hollows' Eve aka Halloween, and the necessity to re-new, re-use and recycle,  I bring you a visual reminder of some of the types of shots you can make with a mobile device or any camera.

A long shot to lead the person into the video; to give a hint or sense of what is to come. 

An establishing shot to help your viewers know where they are in the video. You can be off to the side or a bit above or below; fee free to change up on the angles.

A  medium shot to get in just a bit closer to your intended. Adds a bit of focus to what is going on and that hand coming out of the lower left tells a story of its own.

A close up is intimate, forces a connection. Use cautiously with the un-dead because there may be things you don't want to see.  Again, shifting angles might help but in this ghoul's case; not so much.

The pumpkin? Ew, sinister.

The extreme close up puts your viewers nose right in it; make sure you have a very good reason for doing so.

The cutaway is a handy dandy way to use as a transition point. You can edit a cutaway into your video when you need to narrate a passagea and you need to get from one shot to another.

You want to get as many of those as you can that is appropriate for your video.

And if you mix and match well you will also have the making of the 5-Shot Method for getting the story:
  • A close-up shot of the hands
  • A close-up shot of the face
  • A wide shot 
  • An over the shoulder shot
  • A unusual or alternative view of the subject.
You get three out of five of these rascals and you are doing better than 80% of most videos. Be a 100% trouper and you will have story.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Creating A Digital Story - Stabilization Tools for Mobile Recording

There are smartphones, iOS devices, tablets. I don't know about the video recording via smartwatches but the ability to record video on mobile devices is remarkably easy to do and to muck up.

There are a lot of options; the trick is to find what works for you and to be able to purchase locally or on-line. You might have an Apple store near you but they may not have the exact third party product that you need.

Same with Android folk;  a tablet purchased at an office supply store does not mean they will have a smartphone or tablet accessories selection. This is my long winded way of saying you might need an online vendor. Stay safe; stick to the actual vendor or known online retailers.

Stability Accessories

Your greatest challenge and responsibility is to keep your device stable during recording. It isn't easy; the devices aren't necessary designed for ease of horizontal hand holding. Even when the content is compelling viewers shouldn't have to struggle to pay attention to what you have to say.

Tables owners; we share a special pain. Because as tough as it is to find a good smartphone stabilization product to record video it is a bit harder for the tablet crowd. But not impossible.

Square Jellyfish Tablet Tripod Mount might be what you are looking for; it is adaptable to tablets; doesn't block the camera lens and you can even rotate from landscape to portrait. I'm not sure that the tripod comes with the mount so double check before purchase.

Please do not record unintentional vertical videos; especially on smartphones.

Joby makes an interesting line of products; for smartphone users you might be interested in the Joby GripTight Mount. You can use it as a stand alone device or attach it to other tripods.

Another option is Studioneat's Glif - this can also be used to attach to a tripod to help you keep it steady.

I hear some of you saying, "I don't want to carry a tripod." How about a monopod? The iStabilizer Monopod can be used to take Selfies or turn it the other way and record the rest of the world.

These are not so much recommendations as idea generators. There is a device that will help you take great video. You just have to find that affordable option that works for you.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Creating A Digital Story - Your Place on the Wheel

You have your idea. You have put it in a fixed form on paper or in a cloud. How are you going to show it? How will you tell your story? With what tools? How much time have you got? How will your audience technologically receive your story? Will it eat up their data plan?

What method would best serve your story? You have a lot of choices; the ideas below are just touch points/idea generators.

I have a expansive view of how to create a video. If you work it right a series of screen captures with narration could be a big hit. Who is to say that a well planned GIF can't be a digital story or a means of delivering a tutorial?

Ken Burns made bank on using history, old photos and narration with his documentary on the U.S. Civil War.  The New York Times Video unit is telling strong stories by using music, narration, photos and video.

And X=Unknown?

Yes. Because Microsoft is coming out with a new presentation format called Microsoft Sway. Other vendors are searching for ways to help users and creatives to tell stories more effectively without building from scratch. A new app could show up a week from now that will blow your socks off in simplicity.

There is another reason why you should think of this now.

Lets say you decide using photos and audio is the way to go. Your energy is now directed to getting the photos, recording your audio and finding the software that will help you assemble your story quickly.

That might be AnimotoSmilebox, Slidely, Roxio PhotoShow. It might mean using a presentation software like PowerPoint, Keynote or OpenOffice Impress.  It could mean laying out cash money for something like Photodex Producer; if you want a professional level of control.


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