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Tools for Digital Storytelling


Consumer digital camera technology now enables people to capture personal moments with quality comparable to film cameras and immediately reviewable results. The photo development cycle is drastically shortened eliminating trips to the nearest photo development center. In addition, digital camera storage media nearly remove the limitation on the quantity of photos allowing multiples takes and re-takes of a particular moment. However, digital photopgraphy does require engaging with technology to transfer images from the camera and accessing them later for use. Many researchers are addressing the challenges of developing tools to support organization and access of captured media. Our work addresses the question of what support is needed when users are ready to use their digital images in the context of digital storytelling.

Over time a set of practices have evolved around print photos including recounting shared experiences, display in the home, and family history archival. Naturally people wish to engage in similar social activities with digital photos. Frohlich et. al. define requirements for photo activities in the digital realm to include pre-digital practices as well as suggest new requirements for digital photo tools. Babalvonic et. al. also note people's desire to share their digital photos in the manner they were accustomed to sharing their print photos and developed a prototype to facilitate side-by-side review of digital images. Nevertheless, innovations in camera technology and media asset management seem to outpace the development of tools to support the activities of the consumers who are the target of these technologies. In our research, we explore available support for digital storytelling and consider how software could provide better support. Digital storytelling involves the use of personal media to tell personal stories. These stories could be considered to have a higher production value in comparison to artifacts more commonnly produced using currently available tools (e.g. a slideshow of images set to background music). Currently these stories are largely produced in workshops under the supervision of skilled facilitators. The rising visibility of the digital storytelling community suggests people are interested in venturing into this different more sophisticated form of media use. Our focus is to support this interest by designing software which enables novice users to produce artifacts of increased quality without the requirement of professional training, constant professional support, and using professional tools. Below we describe past, present and future efforts of our work.


  • CDS Workshop Observational Study
    • During the Summer of 2004, I conducted an observational study of the process the Center for Digital Storytelling uses to help people from various backgrounds create personal stories. From this workshop I learned some of the important factors in supporting people through the process of authoring digital stories. I then combined what I learned at the workshop with what is understood about the writing process and developed a prototype for creating digital stories.
    • For details of the study and what I learned, see the paper
    • iTell is a software prototype we have designed to support people without screenwriting and video production domain experience with authroing personal digital stories with their own media. Our hope is to help users create an artifact of increased production value (in comparison to what current consumer tools provide) without the need to become skilled in screenwriting and video production
    • SeeiTell to get more information on the prototype and to download a version to play with.

  • Evaluation of iTell
    • We conducted an evaluation of iTell and the results of the study can be found in a paper presented at the 2006 Symposium on Designing Interactive Systems. Check the Publications page for more info

Current Activities

Last modified 10 February 2008 at 9:28 pm by blandry