Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mixing audio for digital stories, Day #4--Digital Storytelling in a nutshell

After creating a sensory map and connecting images to themes and messages, it is time to find and create audio to coincide with the story. Audio is a general term for:

  • Voiceovers
  • Mix tracks
  • Background/theme music
An effective digital story will have a combination of the storyteller's voice, creative arrays of music, and theme music. Each type will connect to a different piece of the story. Therefore, it is, once again, important that students develop detailed sensory maps. In doing so, students will be able to brainstorm which portions of the story need the storyteller's voice and which portions need theme music. 

You can record your voice on any audio editor with the use of a headset or microphone (most laptops have built-in ones now). Be sure the room is quiet and free of distractions. Low-quality microphones may pick up a lot of background noise, which is hard to edit out. 

So, what do you use to blend the audio recordings and theme music together?
You can always build audio in Movie Maker or iMovie, but it doesn't give you an actual audio track/Podcast. By creating it in Audacity or Myna, you can perfect the audio, an important part of any story. This also allows students to communicate through yet another medium--sound. In doing so, students will learn about the power of voice and the power of theme music. 

So, where do you find theme music?
I try to have my students avoid using songs under copyright. I find that is is important to have them build their own audio so they become the storytellers. Plus, students can develop their own words and sounds that best convey their message. Just as with images, it is important to follow all rules of copyright and Fair Use (see yesterday's post). The three links above all have sounds that are free to use for public purposes. However, they are not for commercial use. 

Building audio can almost become a stand-alone unit. Students become storytellers in their own right--using their voice to convey the most important words and emotions and using theme music to set a tone. Audio should be a substantial portion of an digital storytelling unit. Audio should blend with the text on the screen. Each should speak to a different sense and emotion. For instance, the text may say "friendship" while the storyteller speaks of a friend he had as a child in Africa. Then, there may be a series of images of that friendship that is paired with theme music. If they picture can tell the story, let it. However, if the storyteller can tell it, let him/her. 

Though it is helpful to create audio after finding images, audio should not be inserted into any movie/digital story until the end or else it will cause technical difficulties. It helps my students to put the audio on a storyboard and calculate the amount of time each section should take. Audio is very time-specific. 

Stay tuned for capturing and adding video. And, then, for how to put it all together. 

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