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One Photo, One Voice: a 5-Step Digital Video Story
16 August 2016   Process

Sometimes while I am scanning photos, I come across one which has a story I should tell

A photo is only a moment in time, showing one event out of context. There is nothing to explain what happened leading up to the photo, and also nothing to explain what happened after the snapshot was taken. The knowledge you have about these events may not be present in the image, and might not be generally known by the intended audience to whom you intend to tell your stories. Recorded audio can be combined with the photo into a simple digital video file. You can explain what's happening in the scene shown in the photo.

1. Edit the photo

I was able to use the free Photos program that comes with Windows 10 to adjust brightness, color, and to edit out the scratch to the left of the baby.

2. Write down what you would like to say about the photo (write a small script)

Some tips:

  • Write a memory, not a story
  • It's not necessary to "start at the beginning"
  • Keep it short
  • Use your five senses to tell about the photo
  • Answer who, what, where, when, why

3. Record the audio and create a digital audio file

Practice reading the script until you can read it smoothly. With this type of digital story, it's helpful to record the entire reading in one file. (For other digital stories which might contain several photos and video clips, sometimes it's helpful to record in phrases and paragraphs because they are easier to work with.)

Some tips:

  • Shut the window
  • Turn off the fan, etc.
  • Keep pets out of the room
  • If the household ambient noise becomes a nuisance, consider sitting in your car to record audio. This is easlily done if you use a smartphone or other portable device to do the recording

4. Combine the photo and audio in a video making application

Here is an example of how to do this using Windows Live Movie Maker which is no longer supported on Windows 10 but which seems to run OK anyway. I have not figured out a better workflow with this program, contact me (admin@digitizethedash.com) if you know a better way.

Click the Add video and photos button.

Browse to the Windows folder that contains the edited version of your photo, click the file, then click the Open button.

Click the drop arrow to the right of the "Record narration" button and then click the "Add sound..." button.

Browse to the Windows folder that contains the recorded narration file. Click the file, then click the Open button.

After you add the recording, a brown bar will appear under a thumbnail of the photo, on the right side of the screen. Hover the mouse over this brown bar, and you should be able to see the duration of the audio. In my example, the duration is showing as 27.25 seconds.

Now, you have to adjust the photo duration, so the photo stays on the screen long enough to match the audio. Click the Edit tab at the top of the screen.

Click into the Duration box to highlight the default value of 7.00. Type in the duration of your audio file, then press the Enter key on the keyboard. You should see the timeline to the right of the screen populate with thumbnails of the photo.

If you want to adjust the start or end position, double click on the timeline. Three text fields will appear in the ribbon above the timeline. Move the black vertical bar on the timeline to the point where you want the video to start, and then click the Set start point button. Drag the black bar to the place where you'd like the video to end, and click the Set end point button.

Use the Play button to preview your video.   

Click the Animations tab and try on some pan and zoom effects (optional). You might want to skip this if you plan on stringing many One Photo One Voice videos together as a longer photo album. Similarly, you could add music at this point but if you string several photos together, it's likely you'd want the music to be continuous across the several photos. You could try saving off a cop now, without effects or music, and then save another copy after adding animations and a music track.

If you have Title metadata attached to your photo, it will appear as a text overlay on the photo. If you do not want this, double-click on the pink bar in the timeline. The text box over the photo will become editable, and you can delete the text.

Click the File tab on the ribbon, then click Save movie to make the video file. Choose your output settings ("Recommended for this project" or some other choice). Give your video a name, and browse to the Windows folder where you'd like to save the file. Click the Save button.

Remember, you are the narrator and director, so you are in charge of choosing which details to describe and which to omit.

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