When Storytelling Goes Digital

By Jeff Gelski

Digital storytelling may be defined as the marriage of technology to storytelling, said James Hopper, chair of web and digital communications at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan. Such marriages are not as expensive to produce as in years past, but they should be kept short, he said.

Hopper spoke during an ASBPE workshop put on Oct. 1 by the Kansas City chapter. He said software has come down in price. Videos today even may be shot on phones, as a New York fourth-grader did in “Yuck,” a video about school food.

“Fifteen years ago [making a video] took quite a bit of money,” Hopper said, advising that videos should stay in a range of three minutes to five minutes.

“We only have a few minutes,” he said. “How many of you would sit on YouTube and watch a 10-minute video?”

Videographers may have a “whiz-bang feature” available for use, but they should consider whether the feature applies to what they are doing, he said. Creating a video requires writing a script and deciding what images and sounds are needed. Music may provide emotion and mood.

Opportunities for digital story telling are out there. Hopper cited statistics showing 34,743 jobs related to digital storytelling in the Kansas City metro area, with an estimated growth of 15.2 percent in the next 10 years. Another statistic showed 80 percent of smart phone owners, 81 percent of tablet owners and 73 percent of laptop owners use their devices in front of the television

Hopper also gave video examples for different themes in storytelling.

For “Overcoming The Monster,” Nike produced a video of athletes working out.

For “The Quest,” a Red Bull video showed a man falling from outer space.

For “Voyage and Return,” Dove produced a video showing a woman receiving makeup on her face. After computer technology was used to touch up her photograph, the photograph appeared on a billboard.

In “Rebirth,” a Prudential video involved a man experiencing his first day of retirement.

For “Rags To Riches,” Chrysler had a father explain his pride in watching his son start his own firm.

In “Tragedy,” St. John Ambulance showed a man overcoming cancer only to choke to death at a cookout.

For “Comedy,” a popular Old Spice commercial ended with a bare-chested man sitting on a horse and holding diamonds in one hand.

Jeff Gelski
Jeff Gelski

Jeff Gelski is an associate editor for Sosland Publishing Co. in Kansas City, Mo., where he mainly works for two brands in Food Business News and Milling & Baking News. A member of the Kansas City chapter’s board of directors for the ASBPE, he has worked for business-to-business publications since 1997. After graduating from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism in 1985, he worked for daily newspapers until 1997.

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