When considering the use of multimedia, first ask yourself if your story and the scenes within it be enhanced by the use of additional layers of sound, video, and still pictures? Could music be used to highlight the changing point in your story? Could a picture emphasize what is being said?  Could a video spice up and better engage the listener?  Or does the addition of multimedia steal from the story?

Music in digital stories can be very powerful at conveying tone and meaning yet can be distracting at the same time. Ask yourself if the music is enhancing the story or taking away from it? Does the music help the audience understand the significance of the scene? Think about what kind of music you would like to use. What kind of tone do you want to set? Would a preexisting record be best or is better to record available sounds.  Sometimes it’s simpler to record available sounds and music than to research finding preexisting recordings that can legally be used.  Also, you can record your own voice to create layers in your story.

Next, go through these questions with how you want to use video. Will it take away from the story? How can it benefit the story? Can available video be used instead of recording your own video? What about pictures? Can still pictures be used to enhance the story? How can they benefit the story?

Just because you find multimedia online does not mean it is freely available for you to use in your own digital storytelling productions.  There are many licenses used to protect the copyright of a creator of content.  A valuable source of preexisting multimedia that can be freely reused can be found in the Creative Commons, a non-profit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others.  Be sure you have confirmed that licensing allows you to make use of material before incorporating it into your production!

For more information on this topic, please see:

Digital Storytelling Manual:

Story Center Manual:

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