Building multimedia stories on Steller is easy

Because life is basically on lock-down due to Coronavirus quarantines and social distancing, I was relieved that our KSU Digital Media professor, Lori King, shifted our assignment from a reporting video to a multimedia Steller story to capture the reality of our lives during this bizarre time.

Steller is a free app that allows users to combine photos, videos and text to tell a story that can be shared through social media and on Steller’s own platform. The app is quick to learn, and although the free version I used has some limitations, I was able to produce a cohesive story I’m proud of. Here it is (click the link)!

This is the title page of my first Steller story, which was inspired by the joy my 2 year-old daughter Sylvia has when she plays outside.

After reviewing various resources and tips on mojo storytelling, I was ready to use my iPhone to capture the reality of my quarantine experience: life confined to home with my 2 year-old daughter, Sylvia.

Normally when we have whole days together on weekends we fill them with trips to museums and playgrounds or visits with friends and family.  However, for almost a month we’ve been confined to our home and our small yard. However, when you’re two the world, even when it’s small is new and exciting. I decided I wanted to capture my daughter’s excitement and joy about the simple things in life, especially outside.

This is the text page I created to introduce the context and subject of the Steller story. I wanted to make clear that her simple joy playing outside is despite the fear in the world and all of the good, fun things in her life that have been put on indefinite hold.

Over three days I shot photos and video of my daughter playing in our yard and street. I worked hard to keep the phone steady while shooting video and took various photo shots (overall, medium and tight) from different angles.

Shooting the photos and video was especially difficult because my daughter hates to have her picture taken, and every time she notices me trying she shouts, “No! No! Put your phone away!” This made attempts at interviewing her almost impossible, so instead of multiple interviews, I asked her to describe what she was doing while playing.

After collecting tons of photos and video, I spent a lot of time selecting and editing. I came up with a framework to structure the story based on something Sylvia said during an interview. I asked what she likes about playing outside and she said, “Sometimes we just do everything!”

I decided to then structure the story about the different things we do outside, which are simple, but which she sees as “everything.”

I narrowed down and organized my content, making lists and writing drafts of copy as I went. Finally when I had everything ready I began constructing my Steller story.

This part was fun and easy. I appreciate how intuitive it is to build pages and move them around. I worked on font selection and making sure there as a consistency to the story’s look.

Here’s the credit page for my Steller story.

One frustration I had was the way that if the video clip is on the short side, it kept looping until the story moves forward to the next slide. This happens with many of my video clips, but after changing the length of some videos, it seems to be working better.

When I was all done, I was proud to share my story of Sylvia’s outdoor fun on my social media accounts. Although it’s not a typical “news” story, I do think it’s important to acknowledge children’s experiences and to show some light, uplifting stories in difficult times.

I plan to teach my publication’s social media editor and photographers about Steller. I think they’ll find it, and the process, fun and easy, too.

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