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When in Malta: A WeVideo Implementation & Review

STORYCENTER Blog

We are pleased to present posts by StoryCenter staff, storytellers, colleagues from partnering organizations, and thought leaders in Storywork and related fields.

When in Malta: A WeVideo Implementation & Review

Emily Paulos

by Daniel Weinshenker – Rocky Mountain/Midwest Region Director

It was rocky, far rockier than I thought it'd be. I was wanting beach.

And in the end, I did get beach. I got beach with rocks on it and I spent a whole day skipping rocks into the waves.

And it worked.

Not talking about Malta here, though that fits too. Talking about WeVideo.

I was in Malta two weeks ago with Darcy Alexandra teaching a workshop for ENKDIST (European Network for Knowledge diffusion of Digital Storytelling) – a group of around nine EU partner countries banding together to learn DST and implement it back in their respective home countries as part of a European Commission Lifelong Learning Program grant that we've been working with them on for two years now. With partners coming from all over the continent and bringing the methodology back into various contexts (both societal and technological), we were looking for a DST software/platform that was flexible, cross-platform, affordable, and accessible.

I've been running Snapshot Story Workshops for the past year now. It's a one-day workshop in which participants make digital stories using only one picture. (You can watch some here.)

So I started messing around with WeVideo because we don't really have time in that one-day workshop to teach a lot of tech, nor is it necessary for a one-picture edit since there's not a whole lot of editing that even needs to happen. Plus, I didn't want the workshops to have to depend on a tech lab that we'd have to maintain. I wanted people to be able to come to the workshop with whatever tech they happened to have (PC or Mac, and even tablet or smart phone) and be able to find a way to make the piece.

Here are the quick pros and cons:

Pros:

• Cross platform (need I say more?).

• Free (if you're ok having a watermark on your movie. If not, it's $5 for a one-month membership that allows you to export at a higher resolution and without the watermark).

• Cloud-based editor – so no actual software to "load" onto one's computer.

• Takes a variety of file formats.

• Ability to go back to the timeline-based layout that most digital storytelling/video editing people love (as opposed to the non-timeline models that the newer iMovie releases use), though it has other editing modes as well for new users (storyboard, timeline, advanced timeline).

• Multi-track for both audio and video (with alpha/transparencies for video even!).

• Ability to "invite" users to collaborate on a timeline together (which is great for tutorials so that everyone can see the same thing – and also be able to share uploaded files with invited users).

• Easy publishing to YouTube/Facebook/Google Drive, etc.

• Ability to actually download exported file.

• Has a beta Android version out.

• iPhone/iPad version may be coming out soon.

Cons:

• Cloud-based – so if you don't have good (high Mbps and consistent connection) broadband access, it's absolutely unusable – and NO offline editing.

• Had some trouble with different versions of browsers and flash versions installed (need to ask people to download and test first before the workshop, which they inevitably won't do... so build in time for troubleshooting).

• The Ken Burns effect is really, really bad. Not only can you not really choose a starting point/ending point (or even have the ability to choose zooming in vs. zooming out) for the motion, but even when you seemingly can, it still doesn't work half the time.

• Takes longer than you'd think to export and publish (usually around twenty minutes until the ability to actually "download" a file to your computer for a screening, for example).

• Yucky, hard-to-resist pre-made video "backgrounds" that students have a hard time laying off (think: goofy transitions but with pre-made video clips and the like).

Tips:

• When starting a project, make sure to select the "theme" (under the style menu) as "no theme." Otherwise, the video will have preset styles for the titles and automatic transitions. You CANNOT change this mid-stream on a project and have it take effect. So make sure to do it FIRST.

• Make sure to choose Advanced Editing Mode (in most cases) for editing most like what those in the DST world are used to.

• Don't necessarily have users each buy an account. You can actually just buy one account and then "invite" users in to create their own timelines under YOUR account. So handy! They'll also have access to your files (so if you want everyone to have access to the same title slide or end credit, you can do that).

• Leave enough time for users to export and download their movie before your screening (at least half an hour).

• Keep saving, just in case it crashes... and it WILL crash... even if the internet doesn't go down.

Here are two pieces made for your viewing pleasure – both one-picture stories:

"Getting Lost" by Steve Bellis

"Avenue P" by Daniel Weinshenker

Screenshot from WeVideo:

Oh, and when you're done, strip down and jump in the Mediterranean, no matter how cold it is in Spring.