Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The making of a digital story; One woman's journey

Its a hot Monday afternoon. Am seated at the German Embassy lobby. Time seems to be dragging away so slowly.Once in while i start a conversation with the people gathered there, mostly  Kenyans and Germans.We are all waiting for the clock to tick 2.30 p.m so that we can  be ushered in for our visa applications. Normally,this is the day reserved for frequent travelers to submit their applications. Am lucky to be one of them as i had two weeks ago mistaken my application date to be on a Thursday whilst i had an appointment  for Tuesday. My turn comes but alas, my original invitation letter is still missing, and in place of it, i have a scanned email copy. Needless to say, my application is rejected on grounds of lacking documentation.

Photo Credit: Enockson, Flickr

Back to the office i go. I correspondence with Sepideh, the awesome lady who on behalf of DW Media services had invited me, and 7 others, for a Digital Storytelling workshop in Bonn. After getting the tracking number for the invitation letters from her, i realize the letter was still lying at the GPO post office, a month after it was sent. Checking with GPO, i realize the letter is in City Square and i receive it just in time for their office closure time.( The innings of the post office is a story for another day) 
A screenshot of the status of my letter a month after it was sent

I have all the documents needed for my application and as such, i present them on Monday  which happens to be a week before my scheduled travel.
"One week is quite a lot of time " says one of the applicant's i remember from the last appointment. I believe her.

 My turn comes and after  presenting my documents, the lady at the counter, feels that even after giving all my work details, i need someone at my office to certify am working, a signature or something of the sort. Am distraught! So much time is being lost in this my application and this has to be the first time so much is being asked from me.I stare at her wondering, half mad half suppressing  laughter. I heartily laugh in such situations. She changes her mind and accepts my application on condition i bring the letter in the course of the day. I frankly tell her i can't as i have two high profile events to attend and after too many negotiations, we settle on my colleague submitting it on Thursday morning as i had some scheduled work commitments to catch up on.

That's not it all. Its Wednesday, the day am supposed to travels and still i have no visa. Between coordinating an M&E reporting workshop, and after many a calls to the Embassy, i get my visa at 6.00 p.m and with my flight departure set for 2.00 a.m, it becomes a mad rush to pack,wind up pending office work and be at the airport in time. Thanks goodness, everything goes as planned and in not time, i feel welcomed to Bonn as i walk to my hotel
A caption on Bonn west train station of two people doing what i love most
26th June 2014; Meeting the Team in Bonn

While having breakfast, am approached by two very friendly people, asking me if  am part of the DST workshop, which i respond in the affirmative. I excuse myself from my newly found friend from Cologne who had come to Bonn for work reasons and grateful to have meet her and liked her in such a short time.Slowly i dissolve to a whole new set of people whose names i forgot as soon as the introductions ended :) Anyways, with time the names stuck in my head; as thus
Trainers (Guido Kowalski- Germany , Sarlote Berke- Hungary,  Annette Scheinder- Germany. She doubled up as a head counter to ensure no one got lost  :) 
Participants (Burak Sayin from Turkey;Thalia Rahme from Lebanon;Olek shykarenko from Ukraine;Azza Kamel from Egypt; May Thandar  from Mynamar;Ha Ann from Vietnam;Roy Thaniango from Indonesia and Emmie Kio from Kenya)

Back row: L-R Guido, Burak, Oleg, Roy, Annette
Front Row: L-R  Sarlote, Emmie, Azza, Ha, May, Thalia

To kick the session off, Guido gave us an overview of what digital storytelling is all about and if i am to borrow the description from Wikipedia, then its " a short form of digital media production that allows everyday people to share aspects of their life story" .It  can be in form of personal stories, stories that instruct or stories retelling  historical events. Ideally, these stories are 2-3 minutes long with a range of 200 -300 words. Among the early  pioneers credited with the development of DST include Dana Atchley, Ken Burns and Joe Lambert.  Watch an earlier video by Dana Atchley  Home Movies courtesy of  Center for Digital Storytelling . 

The process of creating a digital story

Creating a story begins with the story circle. Basically you come up with a story, it could be triggered by an object you see, that reminds you of something that happened in the past that was really significant in your life. From this, you write a script of the story in question. While doing so, try to constantly have your audience in mind, for whom the story is intended for. We did this by writing postcards to ourselves regarding a greater decision we all had made in the last 5 years.

One of the DW Akademie Studio
From there on, you do a voice over of the script you have written. Here is where pacing and good intonation comes into play. We did the recording in one of the many DW Akademie studios and fortunately, for most of us it was the first time we were recording . Later on,
with the use of the Sony Movie Studio Platinum 13, we edited the pieces of our audio tracks so as to complete the story

Then came the selection of  photos that match with the story you have just developed and strategic placing of photos where the soundtrack is. For some of the team members, they were able to add music to their stories. Due to copyright issues, its advisable to use your own photos and in case you don't have any, you could use photos that have permission for re-use. Creative Commons on Flickr is quite a good source of copyright re-usable photos and Jamedo (for royalty free music)

After quite some back and forth for three days, at around 7.30 p.m we all had our first digital stories ready and despite the fact we forgot to buy some popcorns, we switched the lights off and enjoyed watching our own films.And it felt soooo good :)  You too can switch the lights off, grab some popcorns and enjoy our first time productions HERE

And oooh before i forget, this the digital story i produced  during the workshop,  how many points would you rate it given i was a first timer ? :)

The GMF workshop sessions

It doesn't end there. As part of the Global Media Forum 2014, Guido, Sarlota and Priya were the facilitators of the session see you in the future, new ways of digital storytelling. They were introducing the various aspects of digital stories as entails the how to create stories,where the stories are being applied to, and the softwares to use. More information on the same can be found on this link http://www.digital-storytelling.info/

Here is the Storify collection for the day one and two workshop sessions as curated by the Grimme Institut
See you in the future. New ways of digital storytelling
Participatory Story; be a part of it

On the second day, participants were invited to take part in the digital storytelling workshop Participatory Story, be a part of it. This is how it went down

In the end, they produced their own digital story featuring Sepideh and  some of the workshop participants. See the digital story that shows a short history of the Global Media Forum

And finally, you can listen to the Soundtrack for the Participatory Story; be a part of it workshop session on soundcloud.

Huh! That was a lengthy blogpost, wasn't it ?

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