Single-Image Digital Stories
In my digital storytelling course at the University of Houston, we begin by creating a simple digital story using just a single image.
For this activity, I wanted to create a simple digital story based around a just one still image. I decided to use an old family photograph that shows my father and grandfather, so I scanned the photo and saved it as a digital image in the .PNG file format.
Click on the image above to see a full size version of the photograph I used.
Before doing anything else, I began writing a script about the details I could see in the photograph and found that my writing could easily have gone in many different directions. However, my goal was to just get some of the basic details down on paper that I could use as the foundation of a longer, more detailed script should decide that I want to create a longer version of this story in the future. I also did a little web searching to find out more information about some of the items I saw in the photograph.
Here is the script that I wrote about this photograph:
This photograph hangs on the wall in my house and I see it every day. The older man behind the counter on the left is my grandfather, wearing an apron in his grocery store in Virginia, named Robin’s Market and Grocery. The man next to him is apparently a store worker whose name I do not know. The young boy in front of the counter is my father. A calendar on the wall shows that the photo was taken in January and that the 1st day of the month was a Friday. Knowing that my father was born in September of 1921, and searching the web for old calendars, I can tell that the year was 1926 and my father was 5 years old.
I notice some familiar and not so familiar items in the picture that were for sale in this store. On the counter in front of my grandfather are boxes of Kraft cheese, descendants of which are still sold today. Above him however, are boxes of Kellogg’s Pep Cereal, a product which I have never heard of. A Wikipedia search informs me that Pep was introduced in 1923 and was a long-running rival to Wheaties which are still being sold in today’s supermarkets. As a fan of comic books and Superman, I found it interesting that Pep Cereal sponsored an early version of the Superman series broadcast on the Mutual Radio Network. A little more web searching takes me to YouTube where I can watch old television commercials for Pep, and I learn that Pep is “the build-up wheat cereal” that has “more builder-upper vitamins than any other ready to eat wheat cereal.”
I wish I could learn even more about not just the grocery items for sale, but about my father and his father and their lives before, during and after 1926. Unfortunately, they are gone now and even the most powerful search engines available in 2014 do not provide me with any more information about Robin’s Market and Grocery. I am left staring at this photograph wondering about all of the mysteries that are hidden in its details.
After the script was written, I connected a USB microphone to my computer and recorded myself reading the script using Audacity, a free audio recording application available for both Windows and Macs. (You may download a copy from here: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/)
After the narration was recorded, I saved it in Audacity and exported a copy as a .WAV file. Next, I uploaded both the digital image file and the audio narration file into WeVideo (http://www.wevideo.com/) and created a new project.
I then decided that I would add a song to the digital story and found one I liked on a website that offers copyright-free music (more about royalty-free music may be found here: http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu/page.cfm?id=23&cid=23&sublinkid=95). Once I found a song I liked, I saved a copy of the file and uploaded it to my project on WeVideo.
I had to experiment with the volume of the music to make sure that it wasn’t too loud to make my voice hard to hear. When I was done, I saved the project in WeVideo and then exported it as a .MP4 file for viewing.
The completed version of this digital story may be seen here:
You may also want to watch single-image digital stories that some of my students created from their own images.