Posts Tagged ‘digital storytelling’

Digital storytelling: “Inside the Vault @ Powerhouse Museum”

Rita Orsini talks about how the Powerhouse Museum is using digital storytelling to bring museum objects to life. Not only are these pieces of the collection rarely seen but their stories have not had the opportunity to be shared in so much detail. Rita is the second guest writer in our series.

Three months ago I was appointed assistant curator in Total Asset Management at the Powerhouse Museum. My role was to research the Collection and upgrade the documentation about the history and significance of objects. This documentation is placed online and available through the Museum’s website.

I saw that a way to increase access to the Collection was to provide an instantaneous and easy point of entry to this documentation through short videos about the objects, a little teaser to whet the appetite, uploaded on You Tube and other relevant sites. This series Inside the Vault @ Powerhouse Museum takes the Powerhouse Museum Collection onto the Internet and unveils extraordinary stories behind objects usually tucked away in the Museum’s vault.

Every object tells a fantastic story. They often also resonate or have direct links with our world today.

Episode 1 – the Transatlantic Cable (Object number B2158)



Go to YouTube to find out the story of the first transatlantic submarine telegraph cable told by Matthew Connell, Curator of Computing and Mathematics. It is a story of grand plans, human folly and triumph, advances in technology and communication. There are strong parallels between these cables, which connected for the first time Europe and America in 1858, and what is happening in the world today with instantaneous global communication and the world wide web.

Episode 2: the Traeger Pedal (Object number B2125)



Head to YouTube to hear the story of the Traeger Pedal told by Curator of Computing and Mathematics, Matthew Connell. The Traeger Pedal, developed by Alfred Traeger in 1928, represents a significant milestone in the history of communication in Australia and was integral to the development and success of the AIM Aerial Medical Service (later known as the Royal Flying Doctor Service). Pedal-power is having a resurgence today and is the subject of research in institutions around the world. The Technical University of Madrid recently won an award for developing a pedal system enabling students to power their laptops while using them. Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) designed a similar pedal-power generator to support the campus energy-saving goals as part of their IT Energy@MIT Initiative.

Episode 3: AWA Microphone and the Sydney Harbour Bridge (Object number 2007/147/1)



On YouTube curator Matthew Connell relates the story of a small block of marble packed with graphite granules. It is in fact the very microphone used at the official opening ceremony of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 19 March 1932.

What makes the microphone especially significant is that it was signed by ten of the dignitaries officiating at the launch, including the NSW Premier Jack Lang, NSW Governor Philip Game and the Bridge’s Chief Engineer, JJC Bradfield. Thanks to this simple devise we are able to hear their voices today and witness the unveiling of a great Aussie icon, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which symbolised progress, pride and hope for people at a time of great economic depression. All images courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW. Footage courtesy of Collection of the National Film and Sound Archive’ & ‘Australianscreen Online’.

Rita Orsini

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Ten ways to improve your multimedia production

Ten ways to improve your multimedia production follows on from one of our previous posts on producing digital stories to preserve intangible heritage. Mediastorm offers ten tricks to ensure a professional multimedia production. The examples cited in this text are from Mediastorm’s digital stories found on their website.

1. Don’t use dissolves between images. As a general principal, these are unnecessary.
2. Avoid excessive pans and other Ken Burns-style effects. Animation on stills is effective only when done sparingly. These techniques should be a surprise like an exclamation point in literature. And as Elmore Leonard teaches, “You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.” So let’s just say two still animation effects for every 10 minutes of your project. See Finding the Way Home for an example of just how few image moves are actually used.
3. Give your images time to breathe. In multimedia, we have the power to determine how long viewers spend with each photograph. A good rule of thumb is to leave each photograph onscreen for at least two-and-a-half seconds. Three or four seconds is even better. Watch the opening sequence of Rape of a Nation for an example.
4. Show an identifying photograph or video of everyone who talks when they speak for the first time. Identify them with a name and title. It’s a courtesy to your viewers. See Never Coming Home for an example.
5. Use image sequences to transitions between ideas or themes. Think of image sequences as paragraph breaks between two big ideas. Sometimes these sequences need only be two photographs long, or on occasion even one will suffice. See the poaching sequence in Black Market for an example.
6. Work with your music. Allow your images to flow dynamically with the changes in your music. Cut on the beat. Cut against the beat. End your piece with the final sting of the music. Edit the music, cut it up, and make it an integral part of your project, not just background noise. See the funeral section of BLOODLINE.
7. Use music dynamically. Increase the volume during an image sequence; decrease during an interview. Your music should be thematic just as your photographs are. See Kingsley’s Crossing fro an example of how music weaves in an out of an interview.
8. Use one-second frame dissolves to smooth rough audio. It’s startling to hear how a one-second frame dissolve can save a clip that would otherwise end abruptly.
9. Use room tone between gaps in dialogue, even when using a musical bed. Without room tone, your audio will sound like someone dipping in and out of a cave.
10. Watch your production on speakers with someone who has not yet seen the piece. There’s something about reviewing your work with an audience that makes one more self-conscious and thus open to seeing new things.

Sarah Rhodes

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Digital storytelling to preserve intangible cultural heritage

As tradition slowly takes a backseat in our daily lives and technology takes over, there is an an ever-growing pressure to preserve our intangible and living cultural heritage. It is the role of museums to record these fragile artforms. Languages, musical instruments, theatre and dance are all at risk.

UNESCO promotes the use of interactive multimedia tools and digital storytelling technologies to preserve and build a better understanding of intangible cultural heritage.

Online newspapers and media agencies build dramatic video-style stories from a collection of still images. Mediastorm is an example of a company producing people’s stories with beautiful production values. There is no reason why these storytelling techniques cannot be applied to museums – in preservation and education. US photojournalist Colin Mulvany offers tips on how to make your audio slideshows. He recommends using the software Soundslides; but if you have iPhoto, iMovie or Final Cut Pro they would be just as effective coupled with the free sound program Audacity.

Sarah Rhodes

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