Six Image Memoir (as digital story)

During some discussions over at the Making Learning Connected MOOC about this week’s Make Cycle of a Five Image Story, I wondered aloud about whether another variation might be a Six Image Memoir, inspired by the Six Word Memoir idea.

I decided to give it a try, using Adobe Voice to create a digital story. I am happy enough with how it came out, but I don’t think it came out as a story — it was more of a list of personality traits and roles I have in life, so I am still wondering how this might work better to tell a narrative of a memoir. I mulled over whether I needed to have any text, and I decided, it needed it for context (another discussion point going on this week with using images to tell a story.)

You will also notice that I used info-art, not real images, and that was a purposeful choice in that I wanted consistency of tone and composition across the six images. Maybe I will do a variation where I find images to represent the six traits.

What about you? What would your six images be?

Peace (in the memoir),
Kevin

 

Fruit Horror: A Movie Short (by my son)


I wrote about my 9 year old son being part of Apple Movie Camp last week, and here is his final short movie about fruit and a blender called Fruit Horror. I helped only with the filming (holding the video camera for him, and using the big knife). He made the soundtrack, did the editing, etc, and I had to resist the urge to do too much with him.

On the last day of the free(!) camp, we watched about three dozen short movies (true!) made during the week by kids, and most had no or little narrative structure. Some seemed to go on forever about nothing and others were just video taken of self. I am not being critical of the kids, who were making movies after all instead of watching them so that is good, nor of the Apple camp, which only ran three days for 90 minutes each day and that’s not enough time to do much (did I mention it was free?).

But the Showcase Viewing that we experienced does point to the need for us educators to still teach story and narrative and pacing, even in video production (storyboards help), and to have young people consider audience and all of the elements of storytelling that we have always taught for print media. It still have value in the digital age. It brings to mind how we can’t assume young people know what they are doing when we put them in front of a screen, or put a video camera in their hands, or a microphone, or whatever.

We still need to teach the skills that underly how they compose for the world.

Peace (in the blender),
Kevin

From Macro to Micro: The Forgotten Truck in Five Images


I’ve had the Storehouse digital storytelling app on my iPad for some time now — it was touted as the next wave of digital storytelling, from a design standpoint — and I am just now getting into figuring it out, thanks to the Make Cycle for the Making Learning Connected MOOC that has us telling a story in five images. My story is about a toy truck that I picked up at a tag sale for my oldest son (now 16) when he was three years old. It had its days as the main truck for all three boys, but now sits in rusty retirement behind our fire pit.

I can’t seem to find a reason to get rid of it. The truck comes freighted with memories.

So, for my five image story, I decided to try to pan out (with a panoramic app) to capture the entire back yard (macro), and then slowly zoom in (micro) to the truck in its hiding spot. I resisted adding text to the project, although I feel as if it probably needs it for context.

But I will let it stand as it is, and say that more playing with Storehouse has yielded a very powerful story that I will share tomorrow. You’ll be pretty amazed at it, I think.

I also added the five images into flickr. I like the Storehouse version better.

From Macro to Micro (Forgotten Truck)

Speaking of story, I missed the entire online discussion yesterday with CLMOOC folks about the nature of storytelling and the question of “what is a story?” that has framed inquiry in the community lately, but I did create this little Tapestry to make a point about collective storytelling.

Peace (in five),
Kevin

In Praise of Silent Picture Books

The most recent Make Cycle for the Making Learning Connected MOOC is all about visual storytelling, with a focus on what is known as the “five image” story – using only visuals to relay a narrative. I’m still mulling over where to turn my camera lens, but it reminded me of how much I love “silent” picture books (or wordless picture books) where the story is told entirely in illustrations and art — no words.

One of my favorite writers/illustrators of this genre (is it a genre? Subgenre?) is David Weisner, whose books are so fun to read and explore and consider, and the absence of words is a brilliant stroke of creative expression, drawing the reader into the mystery of the stories themselves.

Read his picture book, Tuesday, or maybe Flotsam, and you will be hooked. Someone even made an animated version of Tuesday that is fun to watch, although I prefer the silent, page-turning book better.

By the way, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, is another outstanding story told entirely in pictures. It’s a powerful tale worth viewing/reading. Here’s an interpretation of that book:

Two graphic novels that my sons have loved over the years, and I do too, also tell a narrative in silence, and both are excellent stories. These two are Robot Dreams and  The Adventures of Polo.


So, given the CLMOOC idea of telling a story in five images, how can you write one of these kinds of books?

Of course, there is the traditional ways (pull out your artbook and get drafting) and there are ways to use technology to do it, too. Storybird is one site that is worth exploring. Here, you use artwork that the site provides to create books. While most users add words to tell the story, you could just sequence a series of illustrations to do a silent picture book.

I went in this morning and created this book — Dreaming of Something Better – and I admit, it was a bit of a struggle to tell a wordless narrative in five slides, with artwork that I did not create myself (although if you ever saw my artwork, you would be thanking me for sparing you). You both lose some agency as a writer and yet, you gain something, too. Stories of all sorts take place in your head as you look at the array of artwork. Inspiration has to come from digging around the bin of art.

What stories will emerge?

In this short picture book, I was going for a girl who feels left out of her family and sits in her room, dreaming of escape. The last frame/page in the story is key, as the artwork is an entirely different texture and feel, so that the shift represents the dream not the reality. If I had one more frame, I would have tried to show her back in bed or with a book. But I think it works as it is. (Or did I ruin it by explaining it?)

wordless book

Interestingly, Storybird normally allows you to embed the books in other sites, but it did not like that I didn’t use any words at all, and so it closed down the embed ability. Hacking Storybird?

What can you make?

Peace (no words needed),
Kevin

 

An Evolution of a Poem Inside Media Spaces

RememberingMusic
The past few days, I have been using a single poem across multiple media (taking part virtually in a National Writing Project writing marathon underway in New Orleans called Finding Your Muse), trying to shape and reshape it with tools at hand to see how the poem might remain in the center of presentation. I think it worked, and I think each piece of media composition gave the poem a little twist.

Draft Remembering Music

I began here, on paper, with thoughts of a poem about music and New Orleans and jazz, and my own work as a college student listening to early jazz in order to understand our country’s history and its original art form. I scribble out a lot when I write. I mostly use pen and paper for poetry because I like the writing to be tangible and scratchable (is that a word?) as I write and move things around. On the computer, when I write drafts of poems, I lose my trails (I know, there are revision steps in software but I find them rather cumbersome — I need something like a shadow revision button that allows me to see shadows of what I have written, removed, shifted, etc.).

I then moved the poem into two different formats for Kinetic Typography. In one, I used Prezi and in the other, I used Keynote (exported to YouTube). I can’t say I was all that happy with either one of them, although the process of decided font size, path of the viewer, animation of words to emphasize meaning, design elements and more were intriguing to consider for a poem written outside of the kinetic typography experience, if that makes sense. In other words, I did not write the poem, thinking: I am going to animate this sucker. I reverse-engineered it, and so that made the compositional act a little tricky.

Next, I created a digital story with the Adobe Voice app. Now, I like Voice for its simplicity and user-friendly design, but I don’t like how you can’t share it beyond an embed from the Adobe site. You can’t export the digital story to YouTube, and you can’t save it as a video file on your mobile device (although I guess you could screencast it and save it that way).  As a digital story, the poem did come alive, I think, as I chose specific images to create a sense of place for the poem. I did not like the limited selection of music soundtrack, and don’t feel that part of the emotional undercurrent did justice to the sentiment of the poem itself.

The next variation was visual, as I used a site called Visual Poetry to create another way of reading the poem, where the words become the paint on the canvas that becomes the new version of the poem. The site allows you to use words as lines for images, if that makes sense, and so the poem became a Shape Poem of sorts.  Here, I found myself paying closer attention to phrases within lines, thinking about what words I wanted outside of the poem itself. It took more than a few tries at Visual Poetry to get what I wanted because you have to be careful and thoughtful about what words you use, and when. I broke the poem down into parts before reassembling them as a Shape Poem.

Normally, I would have created a podcast version earlier in the process of writing a poem. Here, for some reason, it took me nearly to the end. I knew I needed some jazz sounds underneath my voice, so I used FreeSound to find some street musicians, and layered that audio under my podcast of the poem, giving a sense of jazz infused atmosphere (I hope).

The final variation, as shared yesterday, shared the poem over at Poetry Genius, which allows you to annotate text (your own work or the work of others, and the Genius family has spaces for songs, essays, etc.) and open up the annotations for others. This work allowed me to layer in thoughts on top of the poem, to give some context, and I played with text, images, audio, and video annotations. It was intriguing to step back from the poem, and try to offer personal insights, sparked by phrases in the lines of the poem.

One addition thing: as I have been re-composing this poem over the past week, so has my friend, Terry, been doing work on his own poem (The World is Curving), and our sharing has mingled with each other in various social media spaces. I’ve been inspired by what Terry has done, and I began to consider connections between our two works of writing. I tried to visualize the ways our writing processes were becoming entangled in a good way, and created this:

Kevin and Terry Weave a Poem

Peace (in the poem of many colors),
Kevin

 

Remembering Music: Final Variations on a Poem (Poetry Genius)

As I work with various media around a single poem, I decided for the final variation to use Poetry Genius to layer in annotations and other media. This annotation site (part of a suite called Genius) brings strands together in interesting ways, adding the writer’s voice to the poem in a way that other media has not allowed me to do. Click on links within the poem and you will see what I mean. I also did a podcast so that my voice could be embedded into the Poetry Genius page.



Tomorrow, I will work to wrap up what I have learned, and share more about what Terry has been up, too.

Peace (in the layer),
Kevin

Remembering Music: Variations on Poem 4 (Visual Poetry)

I’ve been working with the idea of using a single poem across multiple media, creating variations of a poem. I have shared the basic text and then I spiced it up a bit with Notegraphy. Today, I share out the poem as rendered in a site called Visual Poetry, that allows you to “paint” the canvas with words. Nifty.
remembering music cloud

Peace (in the variation),
Kevin

Reflecting on the Lights in the Attic

glowdoodling

This “selfie” was taken using an intriguing online application out of MIT called Glow Doodle. The site tracks light in a slow motion way, giving you the sense of light moving across the image. I kept hoping it would create  video — sort of a like time-lapse exposure — but all I could figure out was to screenshot it, and get an image file. (I am holding a flashlight here, if you are wondering what is generating the light). I also included a musical interpretation of Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic poem.

This past week, at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, a group out of Philadelphia that works with youth — Maker Jawn — facilitated activities and discussions around the theme of “light” and how light can inform a story. It’s been intriguing, as always, to watch what people do with an idea, and how — just like light — the idea can get bent along different creative frequencies and then shown on the virtual wall for all of us to see. The result has been poems, shadow videos, paper circuitry, and more. I worked to create a collaborative constellation/star chart project, complete with origin stories of new constellations, and I think it came out pretty neat.

CLMOOC StarChart Complete (1)

I also was trying to work with audio, in relation to light. I know this sounds rather contradictory, but I felt it was important for me to explore this contradiction. The question I wondered about: how can we represent light by using nothing more than audio? Two projects emerged from this inquiry stance. First, I created a soundscape story of a day from sunrise to sunset, with the light of the day being the stopwatch. Second, I converted the star chart that we created into an audio file, using a program that takes the pixels of a picture and converts those data points into sound. Listening to “light” gave me another angle on which to consider light, and it was an intriguing experience.

Light Rock
(I have been creating webcomics during every CLMOOC Make Cycle … just because ..)

Interestingly, some of the struggles with the theme of “light as story” has led to discussions about what our concept of “story” really is, and that discussion will feed into a Google Hangout this coming week. When I mull over some of the best elements of the CLMOOC, it is exactly those kinds of inquiry. What is “story”? I’m still thinking about what this means as a writer and as a teacher of young writers ….

 

And a little bonus, as I worked with my son in the Garageband App to create a CLMOOC song, of sorts.

Peace (in the light),
Kevin