one more story

This story – a conversation with Taku Parai – was a long time in coming. I’d been asking Taku to tell us about the suburb in which I live for some time and I finally got him to sit down and talk with me. The ending stops suddenly because his phone rang – he’s a busy man.

Because he really just talks it took a long time to edit, as do many of these local histories. But they are worth the effort for their value.

I spent quite a while looking online for images and was grateful for the Alexander Turnbull Library’s collection and their willingness to share. The local museum, Pataka also has a wealth of images and so it became difficult to decide which to use. When I failed to find appropriate old images I went out and about and took some of my own. On some I used the black and white option to make them fit with the other images a little more, but the piece where he talks about the long summer months seemed appropriate for colour and the shot of the Takapu Valley is so beautiful it deserved the same colour retention.

I was also aided by input from friends who looked closely at the story and made useful suggestions – for example contextualising the story with my own voice.

I’m hoping this works. I think it does.


using music – one more note


One of the issues I remembered as I drove to work (down the Ngauranga Gorge along the Hutt Motorway) was that it’s tricky to add music to windows moviemaker stories.

To do so you use Audacity to import or add the voice, then add the music track. To do this you need a double track (you can add tracks under Tracks). When you Export, select Export Multiple. There are other options like aligning tacks and so on.

This might be another example when you ask me or visit How to Use Audacity.

Coming soon: the more sophisticated imovie details.

using music

Music can add emotion and excitement to your story. I tend not to use music with the local stories we have made for the Ranui Residents Association, because it can override the voice, because it can take time to find the right piece and because copyright can be fraught.

Generally it’s ok to use music that is 50 years old (i.e. out of copyright) and it’s ok to use copyrighted music as long as you don’t share it publicly, for example something shared at a funeral or tangi is pretty much ok.

For this video, made for my friend Bella, I added Dobie Gray’s Drift Away to the end where I added a series of images representing aspects of her life. There was a bit of a tangi singalong by the end of the story. I made another version and added Nick Cave’s Breathless – music that Bells liked. Both songs really lifted the story and gave it an ending that allowed us to remember her with joy.

Free music

You can find free music sites – some listed here.


This site from Creative Commons Legal Music for Videos is useful.
This wikipedia site List of countries’ copyright lengths may also be useful. Note for NZ it’s 50 years after creation.

As with images you should credit any music you use. Of course it’s best to make your own – using Garage Band, an Apple Mac application or by recording a song using Audacity or a more sophisticated application.

Most importantly, however, consider the time and effort in finding music when the voice of the speaker can be an effective sound.

local stories

Photo 25-10-14 12 45 59 pm

This weekend the Polish Community in New Zealand has celebrated and remembered the arrival of 733 children (most of them orphans) to a small town called Paihiatua.

My friend Juliette Laird was down with her lovely trees Dreaming of Summer which represent the 733 children who arrived.

There were workshops by her and friend Basia Smolnicki and several exhibitions of photographs and other talks, not to mention of course food and dance. Everywhere there were people greeting, exclaiming, telling stories and I had a couple of conversations about digital storytelling.

While those crowded situations are not best for gathering stories, they are a wonderful way to make connections. Essentially dst is about people telling their own stories in their own voices and indeed creating their own story online, but in reality many people whose stories we want and who want to tell their story are not prepared to sort images and edit audio.

Barbara Scrivens and Karol Wilczynska who collect stories for Polish History of New Zealand.ORG, from 1772 – till present time …. had set up a table, like a kitchen table, which is a nice idea, and there conversations were happening. They were meeting and greeting people new, then following up….. and existing people were given transcripts too.

Once anyone collecting stories has made initial connections I suggest you find some images or ask the people for images. This helps them focus and talk and gives you an opportunity to ask questions. The more you talk to them without recording, the better you understand what to ask. When I talked with John Ryan we had only one or two images, he was focussed on what he wanted to say, and I was able to ask the right questions. When I interviewed Ngaire with a local PCC staff member too, the range was wide. The resulting recording is long and needs a lot of editing, which then makes the story my interpretation of her story rather than hers alone – and we return to editorial intervention which we are trying to avoid.

The best thing to do is to get a small hand-held device, leave it running and ask pertinent questions. The preferred format for dst is 3 mins. Consider perhaps cutting the stories into discrete bits – think of the audience. Younger people used to the internet and short sound bites may not want to watch something on their smartphones for 30 mins, school children need the pertinent bits. Older people may watch for longer.

Take a look at links in here about choosing images and editing. Ask me questions.

getting there being there


While I am keen to get going on this ds106 MOOC (for the uninitiated Massive Open Online Courses) I have a few things to finish (in my head at least).

About 3 months ago a local Councillor and myself talked with (interviewed is not the right word) a woman – Ngaire Metcalf – who was born a Windley. The Windleys are one of the big families here – having owned one the farms that now make up the suburbs of Porirua. The owners of these farms were: Windleys, Gears, Mungavins, Mexteds, Bothomleys and Sievers.

Many of them married into local Maori families ( Ngati Toa Rangatira) so the mix is very rich.

Ngaire’s audio is long and at times we wander off into other things – which is what happens when you have a connection with someone. I have edited 2 stories and made them into digital stories of a sort ( these are not true dst) and I need to finish another. While I am waiting on Ngaire to ok the first two I sort of wait, hang about. But tonight I will make a start on the final one – about her Paheka family.

In the meantime I have re-activiated a Flickr account ( I prefer Picassa) and tried to sort how to make animated gifs ( that’s new for me) and I’ll now share here one of the stories we did. I like it and I hope she does too.

thinking about learning

2014-08-18 09.09.03 I set this blog up to share information and ideas for a local community group with whom I have been making some stories. I have now enrolled in an open course called ds106 from the University of Mary, Washington State. I am still getting my head around the plethora of information to check up on, tweets to follow and things to read, so ‘bearwith’. From scanning the many things to read, do and reflect on I have found a stream that bases some discussion and perhaps assignments on The Wire. This piqued my interest as many friends have suggested I view this series. I got it out of the vid library once but couldn’t stand it. I’d better have another go. Alternatively I did watch Luther – starring the very same Idris Elba. I became totally fixated. Not only is he a handsomely troubled detective in London, he goes about things a little differently, so differently that he forms a (non sexual but titillating) friendship with a psychopath. He also has some underhand buggers in the force who want to see him come unstuck. It’s an engrossing and totally absorbing drama series. You can see a picture of my new couch from which I view this great series. I am also fixated on Mad Men and an Australian series called A Place to Call Home. Now I’d better go and read more of this information and see what I need to do next.