2.1 Assets and Editing Effects of the Digital Stories
The digital stories for coded for use of particular media elements, as well as for certain baseline information including story running time, and use of standard voiceover elements (the traditional format of the StoryCenter digital story). Figure 2 graphically depicts the use of assets discussed in this section. We found that videos ranged in length from 1:36 to 5:07, while forty-five (45) out of forty-nine (49) digital stories included a voice over, all of which appear to use their own voice.
Figure 2: Chart depicting the assets utilized in public I Am UCF digital stories as of July 24, 2018.
Nineteen (19) out of forty-nine (49) (39.6%) do not include any kind of music. Of those, nine (9) used identifiable and copyrighted music, including works from famous recording artists as well as music from feature films. The other digital stories that use music are presumed to be copyleft works. This music is harder to trace the origins of, although it is clear that some storytellers make use of the music provided by the video editors they utilized. Additionally, two (2) of the forty-nine (49) videos use sound effects.
Twenty-six (26) out of forty-nine (49) (54.2%) incorporated video into their digital stories. This likely points to a significant shift in the media ecology of university students, many of whom are members of Millennials generation. Where much of digital storytelling relies on the slide-show-esque format showing a succession of digitized still images, (including 19 videos publicly available in the I Am UCF database), the abundance of video stock footage as well as the plethora of video recording devices (such as computers and mobile devices) available to students today increased the number of digital stories told using at least one video component. Of the twenty-six students who utilized video within their projects, fifteen 15 (57.7%) of them obviously created video specifically for their project. Additionally, two (2) other stories featured video footage that may have been newly created.
Forty (40) out of the forty-nine (49) (81.63%) digital stories incorporate at least one still image, with the majority of videos incorporating multiple still images. Twenty-four (24) of these videos utilized pictures obviously taken by the author. Nineteen (19) used images created by someone connected to the author. For instance, many of these photographs appear to have been taken by friends, family, or school/family photographers as the author, author’s friends, and/or author’s family appear in the images. Twenty-four (24) digital stories also made use of images taken by people unlikely to be connected to the author. Such images included stock photographs, logos, memes, and images of celebrities. The reliance on stock images is not surprising, in part, given the fact that the majority of digital storytellers did not come into the project with strong backgrounds in film-making or digital editing. It is possible that, with more time spent one-on-one with students, who had the requisite desire to refine their craft, that such a number would decrease. The majority of the digital stories that used still images (87.5%) did not obviously create new images for use in this project. Only five (5) storytellers obviously captured images specifically to use in the creation of their digital stories. Given the popularity of social media in college-age digital culture, it is perhaps surprising that selfies only made an appearance in seven (7) of the digital stories, although it is possible that this number may rise in the future as digital storytelling practice continues to be influenced by wider digital culture trends.
Six (6) of the forty-nine (49) (12.24%) digital stories incorporate some form of animation. Four (4) of these incorporated hand-drawn animation; three (3) of which were physically drawn and one (1) of which was a screen capture of the author drawing using a computer program. The other two (2) videos to incorporate animation used animation found digitally, one (1) of which was incorporated directly from the files of WeVideo, the editing software the student used.
Twenty-seven (27) of the forty-nine (49) (55.10%) of the videos display titles. Ten (10) of the forty-nine (49) (20.41%) videos display end credits. Twenty (20) of the forty-nine (49) (40.82%) have text displayed during the video.
Contributor Comments on Story
In addition to the data found within the digital narratives themselves, students also had the opportunity to contribute comments on their own stories, by way of introduction. These are visible both on the I am UCF Website and when one visits the story on YouTube. All of the students included the baseline “boilerplate” information indicating the project name, along with a statement to the effect that UCF does not claim copyright ownership over the materials. However, about one half or 25 of the students also introduce the story’s topic or theme, generally in a format like: “This is a story about…” However, several go further than this to indicate their interpretation of the story’s meaning. For example, one student wrote, in part: “This is my story about finding my motivation to better my life. Finding out I was pregnant with my daughter motivated me to do what was necessary for me to enroll in college and give her as well as myself a better life.” Interestingly, one student included a direct address to his friends and/or classmates when he wrote, in part,
an expected audience may be reminiscent of the student’s understanding of his work as circulating within a larger social media framework.