TOW Basics: Multimedia Storytelling

Transom Online Workshop (TOW)

TOW Basics: Intro

Transom Online Workshop (TOW)

By TOW Mentor Scott Carrier, author, photographer, professor, and radio producer; among the places to hear and read his works: This American Life, Harper’s Magazine, NPR, Mother Jones, and Esquire.

This is a multimedia documentary production workshop; beginners are welcome. You’ll find several exercises you can do using only a smartphone, a computer and free software. To share and discuss work with others, join the TOW Facebook Group.

We emphasize basic story structure — beginning, middle and end. We have few rules, no lists of procedures, and there are no “right” or “correct” ways to complete the exercises. Essentially, this course forces you to pick up your recording equipment and start using it by interviewing strangers. It’s not a course for wimps. You will have to figure out how to use the equipment and software by studying the web links we provide. You can count on us to answer your questions and guide you to other sources of help, but we expect you to be hungry for knowledge and self-motivated.

We believe people learn through trial and error, that confidence is gained by making mistakes and that the best time to start is now. By the end of the course you’ll have gained the experience of composing stories in all media — text, photos, audio and video — and then posting them on the web for others to see. We hope you’ll then have the confidence and inspiration to go out and make more.

TOW Basics: Overview

  • Introduce yourself at our Facebook Group. Tell us where you’re from and share an URL where we can hear or see your work.
  • Post a link to one of your favorite audio or video pieces at the group, and tell us why you like it (example below).
  • In the first half of this workshop you’ll record interviews and assemble a story all on the same subject, but in different mediums. You’ll also use this time to prepare for your second-half assignment: a story project of your own choosing on any subject in any medium. Begin thinking now about what story you’ll do. Your final story project should be no longer than six minutes.
  • This workshop teaches you to tell better stories.

TOW Basics: Assignments

Example of a shared link posted in the TOW group:

I think I have watched this clip at least 20 times since first seeing it a few months back. I love the metaphors in this clip. I love Buck’s authoritative and inspiring message. I like the fact that when I watch it today, I have a better understanding of what the riders are doing on their colts, having just audited a 4 day clinic with Buck! I also like the fact that I only just realised the connection between the subject of this clip and the subject of my first assignment!!
–Emma Wynne-Jones, TOW FB Group

What are you afraid of?

Audio work by TOW learners asking strangers “What are you afraid of?”:

Video work by TOW learners asking strangers the same question:

“J. Wilson” by Emile B. Klien (TOW 0.1): The varied and inspiring life J. Wilson. Story and production details at at Transom. All music found via WFMU's awesome Free Music Archive.

“Fret” by Ben Lloyd (TOW 0.2): Amy plays for for the Gallatin Roller Girlz, the local roller derby outfit. Her derby name is Angry Amy. It was easy to assume “Angry” was a persona created for roller derby, but it turns out she’s had that prefix for decades, way before roller derby. She spends the long winter nights at her job on the graveyard grooming shift at Big Sky/Moonlight ski area in Montana. In the end the story didn't have much to do with snow cats or roller derby. (Music: Bibio “The First Daffodils” Silver Wilkinson.)

About the TOW