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I hope you enjoyed it!

OK. I’m no Don LaFontaine but, my attempted digital story that I worked on in class resulted in something barely watchable and completely unlistenable–and for a primarily audio project that is big hard drive full of #fail. So, I needed a tried and true style. The PIXAR template is good, but I was feeling in the mood for something a little more light-hearted. Thus, “In a world…”

Though I’m pleased with how this turned out, it is just straight forward multimedia, not really digital storytelling. But by doing this I learned quite a bit about using digital tools and resources, how I might help some of my students, and what is really broken about this stuff.

My first attempt in the COETAIL workshop day was an abject failure. I decided I wanted to make a truly digital story. Where I would provide a framework and others would jointly provide the story asyncronously. My only storyboard plan was the process and I left the result up to chance. So, I set up a Google form to collect Mad-Libs style content for the PIXAR template. Then I record a bunch of voices reading it. Next, I tried to assemble it RadioLab style. Apologies to all who helped me, but you really don’t want to hear it. Mic quality was bad. I needed more input to have a coherent story, and editing that kind of audio is way too hard for me. But, it was a fun experiment. I won’t inflict it on anyone.

Back to the drawing board and more rigid than a storyboard, I planned each frame in a spreadsheet with the voiceover text. Searched images. Grabbed them all. Sorted in an album in iPhoto. Exported to Preview to add credits. Reimported into iPhoto. Dragged into iMovie. Recorded and rerecorded voiceover. Then trimmed everything up.

The actual movie making took about an hour. The tracking all of the image credits, marking images, keeping track of credits, etc took at least two hours. That’s wrong.

I used CogDog’s Flickr CC Attribution Helper to grab credits as I went, but stupidly put them in the Finder spotlight comments as I went. None of that stuck with the images in iPhoto, so I spent forever rematching them up again. We need a plugin/extension that automagically puts the attribution in the EXIF data for the images somehow. That would be amazing and then credits would never get lost. Until we have something like that, people will be lazy or rushed or get confused and lose attribution data. I have to be a little bit forgiving when my students don’t get it right.

Another way to simplify things is not to use all of the Created Commons, but to use a curated subset. If you don’t know about ELTpics, please check it out. This collection of images is all CC BY and is sorted into semantic sets. It isn’t just for ELT, but could be easily browsed for any project. At minimum, it is really easy to give a minimal cite back to the flickr user and set. Not perfect, but far better than what usually happens. Plus, the images are pretty well curated. The bank is small but growing rapidly, so have a visit. I think for simplicity’s sake, I’ll start my next group of students there in that smaller pond the first time we begin CC images.

Another thing to remember is that I worked much more efficiently and creatively at home, on my own, with some peace and quiet and a cup of coffee. I just couldn’t get anything done that day in the workshop. Always have to remember that students may work the same way and have alternate things for them to work on if we are doing in-class presentation prep or media work.

5 thoughts on “The COETAILer

  1. Ron Starker

    That was very cool, far better than what I produced for the final project. I feel as though in some way I am part of an epic movie. Thanks!

    1. Profile photo of Ted O'NeillTed O'Neill Post author

      Cool! I’m glad you enjoyed it. “Epic” was definitely the feeling I was going for. Thanks!

  2. Profile photo of Kim CofinoKim Cofino

    Awesome! Sorry that you didn’t find success in our face-to-face session, but I think all the learning and experience you got out of it was worth it. I love the trailer you created! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Profile photo of Ted O'NeillTed O'Neill Post author

      Kim, the fact that I didn’t find success in creating during the face to face session is not at all a problem. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood? Maybe I was distracted? Maybe I just needed to think a bit more? We can’t all be creative at all times. And, besides, my failed experiment was a failure in final product, not failure in exploration or learning. I gave up on that story, but that’s just fine, I think. Most of my first drafts are pretty bad, and many don’t deserve second drafts.


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