Audio Narration and Background Music in digital Storytelling

I have just finished a coursera online MOOC on Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Digital Storytelling. I have decided to write a series of blog posts to share my lessons learned, experience and finished story of the course. You may want to read earlier posts before going ahead with this.

1. Digital Storytelling: Introductory Post

2. My Digital Story: Topic, Script and Storyboard

3. My Digital Story: Gathering and Creating Image and Video Resources

One of the seven elements of a good digital Story as discussed in an earlier post is the power or uniqueness of your voice. The ability to engage the emotional power of your voice to pass across the content of your story, makes your story either engaging or boring. Creating a good audio Narration is therefore a very important consideration in creating digital stories. Locating the right background music as well helps to portray properly the content.

Audio Narration.
There are a few suggested ways of getting a good audio Narration for your digital story. You can get a professional narrator to read it for you at a price. This gives you some bit of good quality Narration (hopefully) but it is usually not free. One other way (a coursera mate suggested this) is to use a text to speech translating software that reads out loud a particular text, while you record it. This has its cons, a major one being the fact that a software machine has got no voice emotions, and that’s sure needed for a story.

The last way is to venture into reading your narration by yourself. The advantage of this is that you know your script and have the objectives in mind and you’re in the best position to properly convey that message in a powerful narration. One important thing to note about the narration in a digital Story is that it doesn’t have to be super perfect, just speak like you’re telling a story to a friend. I must confess this is not easy at first, my narration still sounded very much like I was reading a script ( Of course, I was reading one) but I know the more I do this, the better it will become. However, creating a good audio Narration is a function of three things… Recording device, Recording software and Recording environment. Fortunately, the articulate e-Learning heroes shared their audio tips here, it will greatly help.

Audio Tips for e-Learning Narration
Audio Tips for e-Learning Narration

My Audio Combination for this digital story.
1. Recording device: From the tips I gleaned after the challenge at the heroes community, I set out to make a great investment in audio by purchasing a Samson Go Mic. It is a very portable but effective USB mic and I must say I have enjoyed it ever since. I recorded the entire script through from beginning to the end so I could ensure consistency in pitch of my voice. I did this recording about 2 or 3 times and then listened to them. I re-recorded a few sections where I didn’t speak well or had a few trouble with. I had a Bluetooth headphone on to monitor my audio and hear it properly as well.

2. Recording Software: I used Audacity for my audio recording. Audacity is a free audio recording and editing software for Windows, it is also very easy to use. After recording, I cut out unnecessary parts of the clip. I cut out coughs and sounds. I later had to cut out each frame as shown in my storyboard so I can use it individually. I also had to boost the audio volume using the amplify feature. I removed background noise using the feature for removal.

3. Recording Environment: This is also very important and for me the best time to record is at night when everyone would have gone to bed. I switched off all fridge and freezer and everything I thought could send in background noise to my recording. Though the software has good editing capacity, having a good recording at the first is a very good recording tip. In all, after the recording and editing, I think the audio came out well!
Below is a picture of my audio setup!

My Audio set-up for narration
My Audio set-up for narration

Background Music.
Locating an appropriate background music is very good for your story. We were introduced to for background music and how to license it. So I went to Jamendo and located a good background music that I used for my story. The details of the music is given below:

Track 1: Nocturn in F minor
Artist: Fredrick Chopin
Licensed under Creative commons (CC BY-NC-SA)
Listen and Download Music

This music came out nice at the background of my Digital Story. I had to do some editing to the music using WeVideo online software. I used fade in and fade out, dropped the volume significantly so it doesn’t conflict with my narration. The music was longer than my story, so I had to cut out the latter part of the music that it may end with the story and fade out.

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