“Dominoe”: Digital Story Screencast

I should be working on other things, but I get a technology bug under my skin. After publishing my first screencast and getting some quick feedback, some of my own, I wanted to take myself to task and do something beyong screencasting as just tours of software.

Creating “How-tos” for using RSS, or a course management system, or some other technology is fine, but it is not all that interesting to me. What is more interesting is using technology to create stories, compelling things.

In this entry, I will share a quick digital story I created with simple tools, and in a short time frame (shorter if were not for my own boneheaded blunders). I deliberately created the basic slide show in PowerPoint, not because I love it, but because it is prevalent.

This is on the heels of sitting in on the start of our week long “LearnShop” on digital storytelling, where unfortunately due to timing and commitments, I could not sticka round for. And that I regret, as the digital stories created by our faculty last August where well above excellent– but what is most exciting is the process created by the leaders Linda Hicks and Rachel Woodburn.

And Linda welcomed them today with her always on enthusiasm, and stressing, as a Communications faculty, the power of story for connecting and creating a strong message. Just think of how many of the most clever ads and commercials (if that is not an oxymoron) create a story in a short span of time.

My long winded point is that we yearn as humans for something interesting, that we can connect with, that moves us… not some voice droning on about how to use MS Word to format a bulleted list. Am I wrong or just tired?

My story is about a dog (what a surprise), not any dog, but the first one I was responsible for and what I learned early on about being responsible for someone other than myself. Below you will find the details, but the story is available in Flash format (about 5 Mb):

And for an experiment, I am trying to hoist the .wmv copy on OurMedia (still waiting for it to appear):

The Making Of…

  1. Last night I spent about 45 minutes going through my old print photo albums and scanning images as TIF format.
  2. Probably the longest sinkhole of time was importing 25 images into PowerPoint on my iBook at home. I just used a simple black background and an image only layout, and a Fade to Black inter-screen transition No words beyond the title on the first screen. I cannot believe that this is the numero uno presentation tool, and there is nothing built in to load a folder of images. I had to do them one at a time by duplicating a slide, deleting the image, and inserting the next image. Sigh. I would share that, but it weighs in at 62 Mb.
  3. At work, I moved the big fat PPT to my PC laptop (sneaker net via a USB thumb drive). I fiddled a bit with avoiding creating a full screen show, and found via Slide Show Settings, you can have it play in a Window rather than full screen. I set it up in a window about 900 wide by 600 high. During playback, the PageDown key acts as a screen advancer.
  4. I then opened Windows Media Encoder to record my story. Here is where I really goofed. The first pass, I forgot to select my USB headsets as an audio source. SO although I spoke, none was recorded. The next time through, it came out okay on audio, except I had the wrong video output settings, and it ended up 320 x 240, small and it looked ugly trying to scale it in SwishVideo. IN fact, I could not get one menu selection for Video source to be recognized until I loaded the settings from my first screencast, used the same video settings, and updated the other info. I recorded it, and got it right on strike 3, producing a 9 MB *wmv file
  5. Then I opened SwishVideo (13 days left on my trial version), and processed it. Oops, I had not changed the scaling from 200%. Reset that and do it again.

If it were not for my settings fumbling and being impatient with #@*& Windows software, I may have been more efficient. My goal was to produce a digital story using the tools available… it is not optimal set up, and from what I am reading/seeing, Camtasia Studio 2 seems to do this work a lot more efficiently than Media Encoder + Swish.

And form a quick google, I do not find many references to “digital story” and “screencast”…. I guess it is not really much of a screencast (if that is defined), just me talking over a slide show. The tools will improve, more people will try it… but what we really need are more good stories.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I enjoyed this. Thanks for bending the new genre.

    Have you ruled out iMovie? Last week Bryan Alexander did a session on multimedia storytelling and described iMovie as a great tool… the “Ken Burns effect” was particularly good at providing a bit of motion to still images. Or is it a bandwidth issue?

  2. Hi Alan, I too enjoyed the Dominoe story, but I think you’re going through waaay too much trouble to get to this point. I’ve never been a big fan of Camtasia; it works, but not as well as other tools for the same end result. To wit, Qarbon’s ViewletBuilder (as of yesterday also available for the Mac, you’ll be pleased to know) can do both the traditional annotated screencasts, as well as a screencast of imported (all at once no less) pictures. Check this out, which I threw together for you this afternoon in about 20 minutes, most of which consisted of finding some creative commons pix on Flickr. http://distlib.blogs.com/screencasts/AnimalStory_viewlet_swf.html

    I realize I sound like a shill, but I assure you I am nothing but a happy user of this product. Check it out at least :-)

  3. I liked your story, but the audio compression killed your voice. I viewed the flash version, and all your sibilant sounds are mush. There were places where I could not even understand the words, and you sounded a bit like an adult in a Charlie Brown cartoon.

    You know I’m hanging at the Digital Story LearnShop. Every time I see people go through the process of finding voice, I become further convinced that voice is the most important thing about digital story. If you can use less compression on the audio, it would benefit the piece. Good job otherwise, though. That’s my feedback.

  4. Thanks Cheryl- I did it so rushed I did not really even listen– I will go back and re-swish it to not compress the audio as much. Back to the lab!

    But you are correct- audio is the key and a good story starts with that. I like Linda and Rachel’s approach in the workshop- most emphasis on the story iteslf (writing, getting feedback from others), then recording the audio. The images and iMovie stuff are almost an afterthought ;-)

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