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Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.

9 — The images, sounds and language of life stories

The focus in this sequence is on the analysis and integration of sound, image and language. While some students will present their assessment tasks in print form, all students are still required to learn about and practise the skills developed in this sequence. See the Resources for this unit to access online video tutorials and support for software the students might use.

Activity 1: Capturing voices and sounds

The first life story to be considered is I’m Minnie Lumai and I was Born on Newry Station. The viewer hears the interviewer’s questions and then Minnie’s responses. Ask the students:

The students should try recording various sounds around the school on mobile phones or digital recording devices and then regroup, guessing the background noises and their possible uses in a story (for example, in the school driveway recording cars coming and going, a line-up at the canteen as the students begin to collect their lunches, the library loans desk, phones ringing in the front office of the school and so on).

A highway at night

Above: Evening rush hour traffic, source US National Archives and Records Administration, public domain image, no copyright

How might you search for or gain access to record a sound such as a crying child, rain, traffic, machinery running, or the sound of nurses moving around a hospital bed, for example?

Activity 2: Focus on images

The next film is also interesting in the integration of images (some quite confronting), sound and language.

Please Don’t Piss in My Pond is a hopeful story: an individual recounts memories of playing in wetlands as a child and how a sewerage plant destroyed those wetlands. As a result of his environmental activism, the sewerage plant was shut down and there is hope that the wetlands will be restored to their pristine condition.

With the sound off, play the digital story Please Don’t Piss in My Pond, and allow the students time to fill in as much detail as possible regarding the narrative thread they are able to follow using images alone. They should be as specific as possible, and take risks in attempting to build the context and purpose of the story.

Replay the film again, this time asking the students to count the number of images and the progression of the narrative: landform, wildlife, environmental text and so on. Based on what they discover here, how many images might they need, and what might the demands be in the life story they write?

Activity 3: Revisiting texts for sound and image analysis

The students should carry out a sound and image analysis of the digital stories studied in previous sequences. Noteworthy films for this purpose include Demander 24/7 Roller Derby Queen (Sequence 1), Street Kids (Sequence 2), and South American Surfer (Sequence 7). There are also several sites that host galleries that may inform your choice, or enable students to explore new stories.

It will be important for the students to consider time saving and efficient capture and use of sounds and images. Consider, for example, the stream of black and white photographs in Demander 24/7 Roller Derby Queen