Fake it till you make it – Some easy ways to make great quality media for the not so creative person.

  • by Ben van Trier

It’s a phrase that we have all heard and it is also a phrase that we all have a stance on.

flickr photo shared by built4love.hain under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Amy Cuddy shares a great TEDtalk  about body language and how ‘pretending’ to be one way might help us to become that way.

While the focus of this blog is not about body language and personal identity, it is about a few quick tips, tricks and tools to build engaging and dynamic media that will impress your audience.

It is important to note that if you are working within an educational context it is vital that you ensure the privacy of your subjects, particularly if you’re making media that includes identifiable images of others. Check with your leadership team or organisation for their policies and guidelines when it comes to photographing or filming within a school context.

When creating media, you also have a responsibility in relation the intellectual property of other creatives. The ResourceLink wiki created by Kay Oddone Copyright and Copyleft is an easy starting off point to learn about copyright and creative commons licencing.

Firstly great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill – it’s all about the story you are sharing! The Humans of New York story is a sensation that has captured the hearts and minds of many on the internet. It began as an artist small idea and grew to a worldwide phenomenon. The portraits are beautiful, nothing overly staged or digitally remastered, and why are they so engaging?
flickr photo shared by ForbesOste under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

You as an audience member read a story from the image. This is the most important question to consider when starting out building media, what is the story and why is it important to share.

Secondly, great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill – it is about following some simple rules. Photography Mad is a beautiful blog that has stacks of tips, tutorials and techniques. Whatever type of product you are making be it print, still photography or a film if you don’t capture your subject well the product will always look amateurish. Great composition will always mean that you have a quality end product.


flickr photo shared by blacktsuba under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Thirdly:  great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill – it is about putting all the pieces together in a simple and engaging way. If you have access to professional editing software, great!

If you don’t, here are my current favourite apps and web tools for making great media:

1. Replay is a simple high quality app for iPhone or iPad, edit together video and still images to make high quality videos. It’s free to download but you do need to pay for removal of watermarks and some theme packs.
2. PicLab and PicLab HD are photo editing apps for Apple and Andriod devices (PicLab HD is only available for Apple users), once you’ve mastered this user friendly app you’ll be making high quality images in the palm of your hand. It’s free to download and you can upgrade to PicLab HD for other features.
3. Video Scribe is an online tool by Sparkol for making whiteboard style animations. Once you master the user friendly web tool you’ll be making high quality and dynamic animations. There is a cost to subscribe but with a few different pricing options you can find a plan that best fits your needs.
4. Canva is an online tool and iPad app https://marketing.canva.com/ipad/ for creating highly quality graphic designs. Make fliers, posters, photo collages and more easily and quickly.

Finally great media isn’t about access to technology or possessing a high level of skill- it is about sharing the story with your audience in a safe and responsible manner. As mentioned earlier, if you are working within an educational context, it is vital that you ensure the privacy of your subjects if you’re making media that includes identifiable images of others. Check with your leadership team or organisation for their policies and guidelines when it comes to photographing or filming within a school context.

With the ability to build media so fast and so easily, it is also vital to remember that you have a responsibility in relation the intellectual property of other creatives. Don’t forget to check out the ResourceLink wiki created by Kay Oddone Copyright and Copyleft is an easy starting off point to learn about copyright and creative commons licensing.


flickr photo shared by mrsdkrebs under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

So there you have it – a few simple tips that will help you ‘fake it till you make it‘ as a producer of high quality media! Making your own media is a bit like DIY home renovations – sometimes it’s best to bring in a qualified and experienced expert to ensure the products success.

Technology and Storytelling….An evolving partnership

“Stories are memory aids, instruction manuals and moral compasses. When enlisted by charismatic leaders and turned into manifestos, dogmas and social policy, they’ve been the foundations for religions and political systems. When a storyteller has held an audience captive around a campfire, a cinema screen or on the page of a bestseller, they’ve reinforced local and universal norms about where we’ve been and where we’re going. And when they’ve been shared in the corner shop, at the pub or over dinner they’ve helped us define who we are and how we fit in.” (Krotoski, A. 2011).

Storytelling has always evolved and been enriched by changing media and technology. The history of stories and storytelling is long and rich. Stories have evolved from oral stories told around a fire, to cave paintings such as those in Lascaux;

cc licensed ( by ) flickr photo by JackVersloot: http://flickr.com/photos/jackversloot/2563365462/

From the first scrolls of written word to the invention of the printing press and widescale distribution of books.

Developing technologies have allowed stories to be shared with an ever-increasing audience. As technology has evolved, so too have the media through which stories can be shared.

Stories and storytelling will always remain a central part of the human experience, due to the reasons outlined by Aleks Krotoski in the opening quote. However, as Clay Shirky points out in his Ted Talk on  Social Media, the Internet is the first medium in history that has native support for groups and conversation at the same time. Whereas the phone gave us the one-to-one pattern, and television, radio, magazines, books, gave us the one-to-many pattern, the Internet gives us the many-to-many pattern.

A snapshot of the internet; the many to many nature is obvious…

CC Licensed (by) flickr photo by jurvetson: http://flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/916142/

For the first time in history, the technology effects not only the medium through which the story is delivered, but the opportunity to co-create on a global scale. What do these changes mean for storytelling? Can the purpose of the story remain the same when its method of construction is so different?

To explore these questions, let’s consider one of the best known stories in our society and one that is particularly relevant at this time of year – the story of the Nativity.

This 2000 year old story has been passed through the generations in countless forms…as Scripture, as a picture book, as lyrics in a Christmas Carol, as a script for a play, as an oral story, as a poem.

The traditional retelling of the story is captured beautifully in the following video:

Now let’s consider the same story, co-created using social media:

The story features many types of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and Ebay. The idea that upon the birth of Jesus the announcement is made publicly via Facebook, and that the ‘Like’ button is pressed literally thousands of times shows that with these new methods of communicating, there is not only immediacy, but widespread sharing.

Does the purpose or the meaning of the story change through the use of social media and 21st century technology?

Let’s listen to an expert’s opinion:

In short, no.  While the mode will continue to change, and more people may participate in creating and sharing, the art of storytelling will remain unchanged –  the purpose for telling the story will remain true, even when interpreted through different contexts, different modes and by audiences of varying sizes and experiences. The need to teach students about narrative and skilling students to be able to deconstruct texts and reconstruct them therefore remains vitally important. Indeed, Anstey and Bull argue that in an age of multimodal literacies, students must become skilled across an even broader range of texts, and be able to interpret meaning derived from the interplay of different media. This now forms part of the Australian Curriculum, which states that students are literate when they develop

 the skills to learn and communicate confidently at school and to become effective individuals, community members, workers and citizens. These skills include listening, reading, viewing, writing, speaking and creating print, visual and digital materials accurately and purposefully within and across all learning areas.

Therefore exposing students to stories delivered via a variety of modes and media, including social media and web technology such as depicted in these Nativity stories is an essential part of any literacy curriculum – and we can take comfort in the fact that the evolving relationship between story and technology will only enrich the ways we share and enjoy this essential part of human communication.

References:

Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2010, June 4). Helping teachers to explore multimodal texts. Curriculum Leadership Journal |. Retrieved November 28, 2011, from http://www.curriculum.edu.au/leader/helping_teachers_to_explore_multimodal_texts,31522.html?issueID=12141

Krotoski, A. (2011, August 7).  Storytelling: digital technology allows us to tell tales in innovative new ways | Technology | The Observer . The Guardian . Retrieved November 28, 2011, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/aug/07/digital-media-storytelling-internet

Literacy. (2011, January 1). The Australian Curriculum v2.0  . Retrieved November 28, 2011, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Literacy

Schwingel, M. (2010, October 28). The Digital Story Of Nativity (Christmas 2.0) on Vimeo. Vimeo, Video Sharing For You. Retrieved November 28, 2011, from http://vimeo.com/18123177

Shirky, C. (2009, June 1). Clay Shirky: How social media can make history | Video on TED.com. TED: Ideas worth spreading. Retrieved November 28, 2011, from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.html

Pauls Arts and Media. (2010, December 13). The Christmas Story (HD version)      – YouTube  . YouTube – Broadcast Yourself.  . Retrieved November 28, 2011, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zduwusyip8M

TEDtalksDirector. (2011, November 23). Joe Sabia: The technology of storytelling      – YouTube  . YouTube – Broadcast Yourself.  . Retrieved November 28, 2011, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkZtRzc9rFQ