During our last cluster share at Sunnybrae Normal, Stephen demonstrated his use of the Visual Portrait of Story (VPS). I wanted to expand a little on the source of the VPS and its relevance.
I attended a digital storytelling workshop with Jason Ohler in 2005 and something he said about technology has stuck with me ever since. "Technology can be like giving a bad guitar player a bigger amplifier" (Source: Then What?). Just because we can 'flash up' a presentation with animated graphics and sound, this does not automatically improve the learning, quality of the content or message we are attempting to communicate. Jason also discusses this concept in his article, Art becomes the Fourth R (recommended reading), stressing the importance of the teacher's role. Jason writes...
"... although multimedia can act as an assistive technology, it cannot take the place of vision, talent, or skill, whether developed or inherited. We will always need to tell a story with our art and to tell it with honesty, depth, and detail if it is to survive as more than a transient, disconnected thought. For this reason, teachers will become more important as technology increases in power. More than ever, students will need teachers for their wisdom and knowledge to help navigate a purposeful path through the glitz and distraction".
So within the context of digital story telling, Jason introduced us to the VPS. In short, this was added in to the traditional story planning process, after coming up with the idea but before storyboarding or outlining the script. Since then I have used the VPS with students for digital story telling presented through a variety of software from iMovie and PhotoStory to ComicLife and animation. Key to the VPS is that it supports the necessity of a good story to include the main character experiencing some kind of transformation. If you look at the VPS and match a well know story to it you will see what I mean. After using a similar strategy with students, I give them a hard copy to draw on and 'plan the pitch' for their story, the VPS has become a crucial step in pre-production, however its impact can be evident throughout the production process.
Below is an example of a well know story applied to the VPS.
If you are interested in reading more I have posted a copy of the VPS and links on the wiki. I would like to thank Jason Ohler for providing me with one of my 'Aha'! moments.
Also as I was locating the links to Jason's articles for this post I noticed he is a Keynote speaker for TUANZ 2008 ...see you there.