Old Process, New Tricks

Digital storytelling (DST) is the current iteration of the second oldest form of human entertainment. The basic building blocks of an effective story remain: point of view, pacing, economy of detail keep an audience’s attention no matter if the audience is sitting around the hearth fire or YouTube. This latest trend takes the form of digitally rendered motion pictures narrated by voice and accompanied by music or other recorded sounds, generally in a short format of 8-12 minutes. A digital story’s pictures do not have to actually recreate live action:  digital effects can be employed to impart motion to still photography. DST also introduces the soundtrack, allowing music to furthering the emotional connection with the audience. As with any effective story, digital storytelling relies on emotional content, point of view and empathy to connect with the audience in a meaningful way. The emotional connection created between story and audience affects the reception of the story and ultimately the perceived meaning of the story.

In addition, a critical element of any story is voice – both the aural voice and the narrative voice. The aural voice connects the audience in very visceral ways to the character(s) of the story. In DST, the aural voice can be more than one physical voice. The audience will form immediate relationships with the aural voices present in a story, an emotional connection that each individual invests with all sorts of subtext and context that the storyteller is both unable to shape and blissfully unaware. This connection facilitates the emotional connection with the story, opening the audience to the message carried by the narrative voice.  The narrative voice is the backbone of the story, the narration that describes the scene in ways that give meaning to the picture presented in the digital story. The storyteller’s choice of narrative voice is important, allowing the audience to become a part of the action, or remaining an notionally impartial observer.

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One Response
  1. lparks says:

    Great description. I really like how you distinguish the aural voice from the narrative voice. They’re both very important and ultimately serve the same purpose, but it’s good to see the differences between the two and how they interact with each other to tell the story and facilitate emotional connections. My only question has to do with whether or not digital stories have to include motion, whether through video clips or what you said about digital effects applied to still photography. I was under the impression that a series of still images is sufficient for the visual component of a digital story, but I could be wrong.