4 March 2017

Collecting the scenes

A storyboard is a collection of notes and drawings that represent the scenes you’ve planned for your video story. You draw, sketch, or describe the visual part of the scene on one part of the story board page or cell, and you write down the narration and production notes in another part of the page or cell.

A map for you

My storyboard notebooksThere are many good, free templates you can use. My preference, however, is to use simple composition notebooks, such as the kind used by children for handwriting practice. They have a blank top section for drawings and sketches, and a set of ruled lines in the bottom section.

In the top section, I sketch idea and make notes about what I want to happen visually at this point in the story.

  • If a relevant photo or video clip already exists, I just note the file name and path here.
  • If the media does not already exist, I sketch out my intention here

In the bottom section, I write out the narration itself, and I sometimes use this storyboard as a script to read while recording the narration. Other information I put here:

  • Any planned text overlay
  • Any planned transition effects, such as pan/zoom, etc.
  • Any planned photo edits
  • Other visual items needed to complete this particular scene in the story:
    • Photos I need to go take
    • Graphics files I need to make
    • Website screenshots
  • Planned music files for this pane in the storyboard if I have that already
  • A note indicating what content needs to be credited to another person. I write out the credits themselves on the last page of the storyboard.

Storyboard page

Don’t overthink it

Just lke many other steps in the digital video storytelling process, it’s easy to over-think this step. It’s just a simple guide to help you organize the production process.

Free storyboard templates

TES teaching resources

From TES teaching resources. Google login required, and you might get some marketing emails, but the resource is free.

Education World storyboard template

Education World also has templates to download. The one above is in .doc format. has many templates, including a 1×1 grid similar to the handwriting practice notepad I use.

IndieFilmHustle has templates and a tutorial



One Photo, One Voice: A 5-step Digital Video Story

18 March 2017

Sometimes, when 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 picture was taken. The knowledge you have about these events may not be present in the image, and might not be generally known by other people who might look at the photo someday. Recorded audio can be combined with the photo into a simple digital video file.  You can explain what is happening in the scene shown in the photo.

Step 1: Edit the photo if necessary

You want the photo to be the best it can be, and after scanning the picture at a quality resolution, you might want to edit out scratches and adjust brightness. I was able to use the free Photos program that comes with Windows 10 to adjust this baby picture of my mother.

Digital image before editing
Original scan, before editing
Image after editing
Image after editing


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

I was told she had a skin allergy that was alleviated when they switched from cow’s milk to goat’s milk. Before the goat’s milk, she would scratch a lot. The ball and toys in her hands were there to keep her from scratching herself while the picture was taken.

Some script 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

Step 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, it might be helpful to record in phrases and paragraphs because they are easier to work with later.

Some recording tips:

  • Shut the window, turn off the fan, etc. Minimize ambient noise.
  • Keep kids and pets busy and out of the room
  • If the household ambient noise becomes a problem, consider sitting in your car to record audio using your smart phone or other portable device.

Step 4: Combine the photo and audio using a video making application

Here is an example of how to do this using Windows Live Movie Maker.

Click the Add video and photos button

Browse to the Windows folder that contains the edited version of your photo, if you made any edits. 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 window. Hover the mouse over this brown bar, and you should be able to see the duration of the audio. As shown here, the duration is 27.25 seconds.

Now you have to adjust the photo du ration, 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 point, 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 pont 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 Animation tab and try on some pan and zoom effects. You could also add some music at this point, but you might want to skip this if you plan on stringing many little videos like this one together into a longer digital video photo album.

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

Here is my finished video:

Allergy to cow’s milk