Thursday, May 17, 2012

Choosing your software, Day #7--Digital Storytelling in a nutshell

When you have finished the brainstorming process--perhaps the most important part of the journey--it is important to select a movie-making software that best suits your storytelling goals. In my Creative Writing classes (since we did not have access to iMovie or Premiere), we used Microsoft's free version--Movie Maker. It allows students to do more substantial editing than some of the free online programs. However, it is not as technical as Premiere.

Below is a write-up on the common types of movie-making software along with their best purposes.


  1. Movie Maker--it is a standard software in any version of Windows. Windows Vista and beyond use Movie Maker Live, which gives users the ability to instantly share the video via YouTube or other social networks. It allows users to add in one video track, images, text, and one audio track (but cannot override the video track audio). You can shorten or extend video and audio clips as well. It also gives a decently large amount of transitions and effects to choose from. The file is saved as a Movie Maker File and therefore, needs to be "finished as" a Windows Media Player File. The drawbacks are that the program often freezes. It is very important to save all files associated with the project in one places as well since objects are not copied and pasted, but imported. Therefore, if you inserted a picture into your movie while at home and did not save it to your flash drive, you would not see that picture when you opened up the movie at school. This is an important step for students to master. It also is rather limiting in text direction and textual effects. 
  2. Photo Story 3--this is available for free download from Microsoft. It is very similar to Movie Maker since it is created by the same company. However, it is much simpler, but doesn't freeze as much. It does not allow for the editing that Movie Maker does, but it is great for students looking to complete a movie in less time. Extensive projects work best through Movie Maker, but minor projects are great for Photo Story. It is also a great editor for younger students. 
  3. Animoto--if you use this, it is best to get the education account so you can have more videos and give student accounts. Animoto does not allow for extensive editing. Rather, it is more of a fancy slideshow. However, it is great for putting together quick movies and for getting used to the movie-making process. It also allows you to avoid the headache of programs freezing. The concept is simple: you can choose a theme or make your own, choose photos or text for the given number of slides, and select an audio file to accompany the video. I would use this in younger grades who are just beginning to learn about digital storytelling.
  4. iMovie-- I will not go into much depth on this one since it is a Mac product and not available to educators at my district. However, I find it superior to Movie Maker and much easier to use.  
  5. Premiere--I will not go into much depth on this one since it is costly and not available to most educators. If you are looking to create movies ready for production, this is the product of choice.
There are plenty of other sites that allow you to create short movies, but I have not found those to be as applicable. These are the best for digital stories. Stay tuned for a walk-through of how to use the editors. 

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