Here’s another program that’s right under your nose (if you are a PC with XP user). To get it, all you’ll have to do is visit Microsoft’s site to download your free copy (remember, XP required!). Yes, there are a number of things that it doesn’t do, chiefly not video. But it is PhotoStory after all! What it does do is to let you simply and pretty elegantly bring still pictures to life, add your and/or someone else’s voice and generate your own music track. Not bad for free! We’ve used it a couple of times in my former school district for senior citizen workshops. It really let those folks concentrate on their stories and not have to give a thought to the technology. Check out Niles Twp. High Schools’ digitalstories.org for their work. They are all worth a look, but I have to point out “We Can’t Toot His Horn” as a fine example of the “classic” digital storytelling style and “Special Day on the other Side of the World” as well, especially for its historical timing. Was this little girl the first American born in Saigon before our involvement in rebuilding turned into a war? And while you’re there, take a look at the "Presentation" link on the main page. You’ll find the workshop handouts, a tutorial, storyboard templates, and a PowerPoint about connecting senior citizens to our schools.
Writing is the hard part. Once you’ve got a good, tight story, it’s just a matter of lining up your pictures, setting any panning or zooming in and out, recording the voice(s), and asking the program to create some background music. You can also add text and titles to each or import PowerPoint slides or graphics slides from other programs. My buddy David Jakes has also put together a nice tutorial on the program along with many, many other great resources and even has some colored backgrounds you can download and import for your titles. You’ll have to scroll down to just about the bottom of the page for the tutorial in PDF.
Just a bit of a catch on sharing PhotoStories, though. None of the export options seem to play on a Mac. And since I’m still getting the hang of running PC applications on my Mac laptop, I have a few questions for you veteran PC storytellers. Is there a way to bring your zooming/panning pictures into MovieMaker? And can you also import the music sound tracks that you create in PhotoStory?