In order to get the most out of the class and to produce a quality digital story, you will need to do a little work beforehand.


Background Reading

The Center for Digital Storytelling web site has a copy of the Digital Storytelling Cookbook, the manual they created to accompany their workshop. You will find the first sections helpful to read prior to the class. There is a PDF version of the cookbook for purchase at


Preparing your laptop for the workshop. 

Although we have a limited number of Mac laptops available for your use, we urge you to use your own laptop so that you become familiar with the tools that are available to you.

  1. Both PC and Mac operating systems include free video editing software.  For Mac it is iMovie and for PC it is MovieMaker.  Either of these are fine, however, you may want to consider purchasing editing software that will be more powerful, have more features and easier to use such as Premiere Elements or Final Cut Pro.
  2. We will be using Audacity to record and edit your soundtrack.  Audacity is a free download.  Please download it before Wednesday night the workshop – Audacity. Be sure to also download the LAME MP3 Encoder available at the same site.


Please bring the following to the first day of training.

1.   A draft of your story idea or script:

The key to a good digital story is the story itself. As final pieces will be approximately two to four minutes, scripts should be no longer than one and a half – two pages, double-spaced. We will be critiquing and reworking scripts throughout the process, but feel free to email a draft ahead of time. This is your chance to choose a story that’s important to you, something that is uniquely yours. As you are writing, consider the following:

• Why is this story important to me?

• Who is the audience for this story?

• What message do I want to convey with this story?

The story is most powerful when it is personal.


2.   Images and Artifacts (15-20):

What pictures work best? Your story will determine the content. Then again, pictures can also evoke stories. So, if you are stumped about what to write, begin with the images you might want to use. The story may emerge when you review old (or new) photographs.

Photographs, maps, letters, menus, newspaper articles, ticket stubs, candy wrappers, etc. Anything that is flat can be scanned! And anything 3D can be photographed. Though an effective digital story can be made with 20 or fewer images, bring any and all visual materials you think might be relevant to your story.  You can bring images in the following formats:

  • Images to be scanned/scanned images: You can either bring in images already scanned, or else bring in hard copies. You will want to scan your images at 200 dpi and save them as JPEG files onto a CD or USB storage device.
  • Images taken with a digital camera: Please bring on CD, USB storage device, or the camera they were shot on, including cable.
  • Images from the internet: The internet can be a way of finding images that are already digitized. Do not, however, rely too heavily on the internet. Artifacts and images from your own collections add an important personal touch to your work.  If you look for images online, a few good sources for royalty free stock images are,, Make sure to get the full size photo (at least 500 pixels by 500 pixels.) You can also try for public domain images. Please make sure that you have permission to use all images taken from the web. That means writing down the URL and contacting the webmaster of the site, if the work is not a copyright-free or public domain.
  • We have digital cameras, if you have ideas for images but do not have the means to capture them.
  • Home video

Video takes up a lot of memory and there are many different formats, not all of which work with every editing application. Because there are so many different video file formats, we will only use video efficiently and in small clips (if it’s used at all). If you’re planning to use video, please contact us before the training and let us know so that we can make arrangements. You can also download video that corresponds to your story at . Make sure you choose the highest quality download.


3.   Music

Compact discs and MP3’s are the easiest to work with. Consider using local music, music related to your story, and music without lyrics.

A terrific comprehensive list for music sites is on Vimeo.  Please make sure that you have permission to use any music on your digital story.