6 Steps to write your digital story

March 31, 2018

Making the final Digital Story is one of the most important elements of your ITAL experience.   As a matter of fact, you can think of our entire channel simply as a source of inspiration for you to create your own content.   We firmly believe that it is by creating your own videos and telling your own stories that you will be able to take your Italian to the next level.  

We know it works.

 One of the most common misconceptions about creating a video digital story is that you need to be a filmmaker or an RTF major to really excel at it.   The reality is that everyone can be benefited from learning how to tell a story on video.   There are also many resources nowadays that make it very easy for the aspiring video storyteller to conceptualize, record, edit and distribute their stories. 
To put it bluntly, everyone can learn now how to tell a story in video form... in fact, we would argue that everyone SHOULD learn how to do it, as it would make your life much easier.    Let's just say that it is very convenient to be able to explain your ideas to people using video, think of it as an evolution of the dreadful-super-obsolete power point presentation.
 

 

So how do you do it?
Well, there is no magic formula for creating a successful video story; it really depends on the tone you want to use and the story you want to tell.   It is then very important to understand why is it that you're telling the story you chose, why is this story important to the ITAL community?   Ultimately, you have to create something that YOU would like to watch, otherwise, why create it. Right?

We will continue talking about this topic in future blog posts given that there is quite a bit of practical information that may be of help to you.   In the meantime, we leave you here with a list of steps that we feel you could take into consideration while crafting your awesome video digital story.  

Since we know that most of you are never going to read a super loong article with multiple steps, we are limiting this list to only 6 steps.   These 6 steps are all to be considered
BEFORE you lock your script.   

Step 1: Check out successful video stories on Youtube.
There are so many new storytellers uploading content on Youtube; therefore, it really helps to spend some time watching and analyzing video stories that you feel are good and interesting.    Dissect them, what makes them good?   How was the introduction created?   How was the flow of the story created?  How was the ending?   Try doing this with at least 3 video stories.  Make sure you choose stories that are under 8 minutes, given that your stories will be under that length.

Step 2: Make sure you have a good story to tell.
Really, make sure that you and your team are excited about telling this story.  Choosing a story with an entire group can be challenging, but that's also the point of the assignment.    Try meeting your group in a different setting other than your classroom, make the process fun.    Make sure all of you really feel that this is a story that the entire community will enjoy.    

Step 3:  Know what equipment you will be using for production and post production.    

 

Whether you're shooting with your phone or with a DSLR, it is important that you choose your equipment early in the process and you start familiarizing with it by making short videos before you tackle your big project.   When familiarizing with your equipment you may find yourself coming up with ideas that may shape how you want to tell your story.  For example, you may want to start your story with all 5 members of your team looking and talking to the camera in front of a big fountain, however, once you actually try it, you may find that in order to fit everyone in the same frame, your camera may have to be placed far from the subjects which makes it impossible to hear what you're saying.  oops, change of plans.    

 

Sound is going to be a very important element.   A video can look bad and sound great and everyone would think is good, but if it looks great and sounds bad, everyone will see it as unprofessional.   One way to overcome this problem is by using professional audio equipment; however, if you are planning on only using your phone, perhaps you can use two phones, one to shoot, one closer to the subject to record the audio.    Whatever tool you end up using for capturing audio or image, is best to know it before you even write your script.   For example, you may want to use a gymbal stabilizer for your phone to have a super smooth steady-camera like shot as an intro (like we did in this video), but once you actually use it, you may find it to be too difficult and you may want to decide to switch gears and do a sequence of clean static shots using an iphone tripod or handheld shots like we did in this other video.    

The editing process is one of the most important elements of your enterprise.  We recommend to find an editing software that allows you to easily work with sound; meaning, that it makes it easier to work with different audio tracks, so you can work with your music, background sound and voice over.      Adobe premiere elements is a nice and complete solution that gives you different options; however, most editing software nowadays can do the trick.   Here's a list of 10 editing software used by Youtubers that you could use.


Step 4: Choose good Music.  

 

Music can be of incredible help when telling your story.   
There are multiple resources online that offer free music such as this one (http://freemusicarchive.org/) , or this one created by Xavi, a spaniard musician. (http://betterwithmusic.com/) .    As a special gift for you, our dear creator, here's also some of our songs, which do not exist anywhere else in the web and were created by our music composer Jean De Oliveira: https://we.tl/iq3mAQvjxJ  password: CreditTheCreator!

Make sure to choose a song that matches the tone and spirit of your story.   Sometimes it is a matter of choosing 2 or 3 songs that could match the different dynamics of your story.  For example, a sad song will certainly make a sad moment of your story much sadder.  We do recommend to avoid popular songs as well as anything with lyrics, as it may be too distracting and clash with your dialogue.  We also recommend to avoid placing more than 3 songs for a short story under 8 minutes, as it could get very gimmicky and distracting if not done really well.

 

Why choose the music before writing your script? Well, a good song can determine the type of tone that you should use in your writing.    If you also pay attention to how the song changes and modifies with time, you can literally write to the song, matching what you're saying with how the song is developing.  For example, you may want to leave the most intense parts of your story to match the most intense parts of the song you chose.   Here is an example of how music and story can be synced, notice how the voiceover changes as the music changes.
 

 

Step 5:   Gather your ingredients, they will determine the flow of your story.  
 

Before you finish your script, think about the type of footage and interviews that you are going to put in your story.    For example, for this ITAL story, we used different videos from Youtube in a sequence where we wanted to show how Italians are crazy about dogs.   Having chosen those videos early in the process, helped us create a script that included that content.   In other words, the script creation process isn't all about writing text... It is about picking the elements you know you are going to use and finding an order for those elements, using scripted voiceover to transition from one element to the other.

 

There are many resources online that you can use to download Youtube and Vimeo videos; however, be careful! Some of them are very sketchy and could easily fill your computer with viruses.   We have used two resources Keepvid and  "save from the net"  .   There are also other resources such as www.archive.org, where you can get awesome old videos that would greatly enhance your story.  Going through this content before you lock your script will be of great help, you may decide for example to add a whole commercial you downloaded from Youtube in a part of your story and then transition to you talking about parts of that specific commercial you just showed. 


Interviews are also part of your ingredients.  Before you lock the script you can easily know, "ok, in this part is where I would like to have a guest talking about this".   We recommend you have two conversations with the person you're interviewing, one before you lock the script to know more or less what they will be adding to the story (this can be done through email or phone) and another one when you are ready to shoot the interview. 

 

If you need help finding someone to interview, just let us know and we'll be glad to help out.   Do make sure that you let us know with good time in advance, instead of the day before your story is due!

Step 6:  Make sure your intro and your outro are very strong.
 

Go back to step 1 and look at videos that have a nice introductions.   What makes you want to keep watching them?    Intros can be super simple, such as you talking to the camera and explaining what's going to happen, or fairly complex, such as the introduction of this ITAL video.        Your intro will hook the viewer and make him/her want to watch your story.   Your outro is equally important as it wraps the video and provides a sense of resolution to the person watching it.        Make both of them count.

 

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