Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Digital story telling

I was talking to someone about Digital story telling today. It looks like an interesting thing. I am starting to really enjoy hearing people's stories and in a collecting sort of context. But the thing that concerns me is the technologies that are used. Looking into it and visiting sites made by a few people who call themselves experts I observed the same old thing. They all recommend getting access to lovely new laptops (usually Mac) DV cams and high end proprietary software (the sort that is 'must have' i.e. with every must have update you must have newer and more costly hardware. This seems to be counter productive to the actual goals of digital story telling, most groups I am likely to work with will have no money and limited access to the right technologies.

Not only is the constant drive for new hardware harmful to the environment but consider this.

-You will be crash landing into a community centre or similar with a bank of shiny new technology.

-Tell people that they matter and you really want their stories

-Dont invest the time to teach them the skills to be in control of the development and production own stories

-Then leave when you have what you need.

What's that you say to the group as you are loading up the gear to leave. You say you want to make more? Oh ok then if we get time we can come back, but you could get your own equipment and do it yourself. All you need to shell out is £500 perPCc or at least double that for ausablee laptop, £500 per DV cam, a couple of hundred for photoshop, an couple of hundred for dv editing software etc etc etc... I will leave the shopping list at that but you are looking at about £11000 for 10 computers and all the needed software and kit (only costed at 1 DV cam) .

So I propose a solution. A Free Open Source Storytelling Kit.

This could start life as a simple knoppix live Linux disc that has all the tools to get people started on it. You could put a range of audio recording and editing tools (Audacity, rosegarden (for soundracks) ) Gimp for image manipulation & animation. Ktoon and basic stopmotion tools for animation. Inkscape of graphics , Cinelerra and Kino for video editing. Yes there are alreadistributionsons out there that have exactly these tools on. But I think also focus could be placed on how these softwares are chained together to guide people through the process of story telling.

The list stretches on and on.

The Disc could be installable and tweaked to run on older machines using uClibc and lightweight desktop such as fluxbox. Have a look at the RULE project. Have a look at A/uDemudi, someone is working on a version of demudi that will work quite well on recycled machines. These days you can pick up a recycled PIII with monitor for well under £100. So say a network of 10 computers with all the software needed and 1 weeks training you are looking at a cost of £1500. This resource and the skills to use it then belongs to the group.

Anyway that is my rant over for tonight. Today I also take back what I said about inkscape, I quite like it now.

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