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Research Report by Christopher Meltzer

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            Research Report: Multimedia Storytelling





                                    By Christopher Meltzer, Storyboard Project




Stevens, Jane. “Multimedia Storytelling” __Knight Digital Media Center 2007__. Regents of the University of California 2007. <http://multimedia.journalism.berkeley.edu/tutorials/reporting/starttofinish/storyboarding/>






Storyboarding is a visual medium that allows for individuals to better represent a story and its contents. It comprises a set of frames in which various elements of a story can be represented and analyzed. It usually follows a specific contextual element (i.e. character analysis, thematic analysis, procession of time) and is visually represented in order to better help the reader understand a literary work. A storyboard allows the reader to visualize a literary work in a way that helps him or her comprehend certain ideas and concepts that would be otherwise difficult.





Jane Stevens is a multimedia journalist teaching at the University of California-Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She has taught numerous workshops and composed various tutorials on the idea of storytelling and storyboarding. In a recent tutorial published in 2007, Stevens provides a full explanation for how to create a multimedia storyboard based off of a literary work. As a main focus of her tutorial, she explains that the rationale for creating a storyboard is to “define the parameters of a story within available resources and time, organize and focus a story, and to figure out what medium to use for each part of the story” (Stevens). By understanding these concepts, an individual can understand the necessary elements to include in their organization of a story. With the realization of why a storyboard should be created, the individual creating it can move on to the actual creation and figuring out of what forms of media to utilize for each frame.


Creating a multimedia storyboard should consist of various visual technologies such as pictures, video, audio, graphics, and interactivity. Each individual frame of the storyboard should consist of various forms of the aforementioned visual technologies; yet not overburden the viewer with too many unfocused mediums. According to Stevens, the creator should make sure that each frame is one that compliments the others, not repeats the same information. The first thing to do when creating a storyboard is to break up the main points of the story into “logical, nonlinear parts” (Stevens). The creator can divide the storyboard based on specific paragraphs, characters, events, histories of situations that occur, or other issues that are brought up in the story. Stevens argues that while creating a storyboard, it helps to avoid thinking about a story from start to the end in a linear pattern, but rather thinking about a story in terms of ideas or concepts that are linked together.


After deciding what parts of the story are going to be used in developing each frame, the next step is to “divide the contents of the story among the media” (Stevens). The individual should think in terms of what parts of the text would best suit each of the following types of media: video, still photos, audio, graphics, maps, or simply, text. Each form of media has their own specific way of emphasizing a certain emotion or idea. Stevens suggests that when trying to depict the central idea, character, or setting, a video would be the best medium. A video is “the best way to depict action” (Stevens), therefore allowing the viewer to be able to see a clear and visual representation of the central part of the story.


When wanting to portray emotion, create a particular mood, or in order to keep the viewer focused on one main topic, the best medium to be used, according to Stevens, is still photography. Still photography is a good medium for individuals trying to capture an emotional response within the viewer or to represent an emotional event in the literary work. Panorama or 360-degree photos, especially combined with audio, can enhance the emotional content of the story or “immerse a reader in the location of a story” (Stevens). Stevens argues that still photography is better able to represent the aforementioned ideas because they are not as quick as video, therefore the viewer does not lose sight of anything.


Audio, she says, can be used in order to emphasize certain aspects that are drawn out in video, photography, or graphical images. Audio is critical because, according to Stevens, it can either detract the viewer from the main part of the storyboard if it is not properly chosen, but it can also dramatically enhance the piece or cause an emotional response in the viewer if properly chosen. Similar to audio, graphics can also be detrimental or beneficial to a storyboard. Graphics are used in order to “go where cameras can’t go” (Stevens) and to explain how certain things work. Using maps and text along with graphics can also help emphasize certain aspects of the story as well; however, the individual who is creating it should choose what parts of the story would best be suitable for such mediums. Stevens argues that although the idea of maps and reusing text can be a good thing, if not chosen for the proper areas of analysis, similar to graphics and audio, it can harm the overall project.


After following the aforementioned steps and realizing what forms of media are best suitable for each frame, the creator should then double-check their organization to make sure that the “information in each medium is complimentary, not redundant” (Stevens). Stevens argues that it is acceptable to overlap some forms of media; however, the creator should recognize that the best way to make sure that a storyboard is effective is to make sure that each section of the storyboard is represented in the most beneficial medium. Next, the creator should develop a rough sketch of their storyboard. It does not have to be “high art” (Stevens), but rather just a visual representation of the project in order to help get the basic outline for the project on paper.


In the tutorial Stevens explains, what “storyboarding does is help point out the holes in the story” (Stevens). It helps the reader to identify certain elements of a story that may not be apparent after the first reading or even in textual form. A beneficial way to help develop the idea of storyboarding is to look at newspapers, find a story, and to sketch out what the main points of the story are and how one would portray each story in a specific medium. By utilizing this idea created by Stevens, one can learn how to create a non-linear, multimedia form of storyboard about a current event that is relevant in society.


Here's a sketch of a rough storyboard developed by Jane Stevens:

Home page -- Background photo of Messina and sliding rock in Racetrack Playa, with headline and four links to inside pages.
The Quest -- Research history and application in text, how Messina did her research in video, and a competing theory in text and photos, if available.
Bio -- Messina background in text, why she does what she does in video, day-in-the-life-of-a-high-tech geologist in photos grabbed from video and text captions.
Rocks -- Pick up graphic from Messina's Web site and use text blocks to explain in more detail than research page how rocks move. Maybe highlight a couple of rocks to show trails -- photos, graphics from Messina's Web site.
Racetrack Playa -- History in text, map placing it in Death Valley, and photos of playa, perhaps park rangers on patrol.





By implementing the ideas of Jane Stevens into the project that we have chosen to do in order to represent Hemingway’s Indian Camp, I believe our project will be an effective multimedia storyboard. The possibilities of creating a multimedia storyboard allow us to portray the different elements of the story in a various, yet focused manner. Jane Stevens’ insight on the different forms of media will allow us to find out the most beneficial medium for our individual frames of the storyboard.


Stevens’ analysis of each individual medium will guide us to identify which parts of the story should be represented by which forms of media and also to figure out how to organize our project. Initially, it would have been a linear, time-oriented storyboard that would progress from the beginning of the story to the end of the story. After taking into consideration the ideas by Stevens, our project will not necessarily have to follow the linear pattern. According to Stevens, we are supposed to stay away from the linear form of thinking and take into consideration different elements of the text that are linked together. By utilizing this concept, we will be able to not only create a storyboard that will help in textual analysis, but also allow the viewer to interactively engage themselves with our project.


The tutorial laid out by Stevens suggests a project that we were not initially able to develop: that of a multimedia storyboard focused on textual analysis. Through the understanding of her ideas and her examples, we have come to realize that we will be able to take her ideas and concepts, alter them to fit our project’s needs, and create a highly effective, interactive, and engaging storyboard that will better help students understand Ernest Hemingway’s Indian Camp. Although her tutorial will help us in creating a better project, there are some limitations and questions that we must take into consideration as well.


Although her ideas are highly intellectual and will benefit us greatly, the forms of media that she discusses are not as readily available for us to utilize as we may have hoped for. While portraying a fictitious story, it is hard to acquire video, audio, and photographical elements that we will be able to use. In order to effectively portray different forms of the story, we need to find these forms of media and utilize them within our project. Having these different forms of media is a necessity to the project’s interactivity. The focus of our project is to help students better understand a literary text by portraying it in an organized fashion through different forms of media. By utilizing these different forms of media to effectively portray certain ideas, settings, characters, or historical contexts, we will be able to enable students to actively engage in a textual and visual analysis of a literary work.


Our project models the ideals that are set forth in Stevens’ tutorial on creating a multimedia storyboard. It will allow students to not only actively engage in the literary analysis of a work, but also enable them to develop new ideas and questions on a specific text. This project will not only visualize a story, but also place it in a context of historical and social practices of the past and the present, allowing for deeper insight and more critical thought. By utilizing Stevens’ ideas as well as overcoming the aforementioned limitations, the storyboarding project will result as a comprehensive tool for textual analysis and multimedia storytelling.



Further Resources


Acting with a Pencil. 1996-2004. Exposure, United Kingdom. <http://www.exposure.co.uk/eejit/storybd/>


Bailey, Brian P. “DEMAIS: Designing Multimedia Applications with Interactive Storyboards.” International Multimedia Conference. 9 (2001): 241-250.


van der Lelie, Corrie. "The Value of Storyboards in Product Design Process." Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 10(2005): 159-162.



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