Visual Storytelling Made Simple: Storehouse for iPad

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Did you know that the very first version of Instagram (Burbn) was intended as a ‘Swiss army knife’ of an app… kitchen sink included. As development progressed went on, Kevin Systrom and his team stripped out feature after feature to arrive at the simple (but effective) photo sharing app that subsequently sold to Facebook for 1 Billion Dollars only 18 months after launch.

Storehouse is a new digital visual storytelling application for iPad and shares something of the simplicity of Instagram.

Positioned somewhere between Storify and photo book production, Storehouse maximises the intuitive interface potential of the iPad. Bring in pictures and video from your iPad’s photo albums, Flickr, Dropbox and Instagram to create (very quickly) a polished ‘story’ that can be annotated with text (again, limited to ‘header’, ‘quote’ or ‘regular’) and published on the web to the Storehouse community and to the world.

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Experienced desktop publishers might see the application as limited. As a long-time Adobe InDesign user the power of Storehouse, to me, is in its simplicity. Within 30 mins of downloading the app for the first time I had browsed some great stories (links below) and had one of my own ready to publish.

Sharing is simple too – Facebook, Tweet or email a link to stories. Click ‘recommend‘ to bookmark stories you might like to return to. I expected ‘recommend‘ to be a ‘like’ but I can’t see that Storehouse display numbers of ‘recommendations’, only ‘views’.

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Translation to bigger screens via your web browser is excellent, no need for ‘mum’ to download any pesky desktop apps to see your story. As yet embedding is not an option, but I wonder if that’s an intentional choice for now… YouTube videos can turn up in all sorts of places – Storehouse stories can only be seen on their site.

Developed by a team that includes an ex-Apple employee, the presentation is very cool – limited, but unfussy. As with Storify, the inability to ‘save a version’ of my work is a little disconcerting. I once experienced hours of work on Storify disappear due to a server problem. Once was enough.

Although a PDF would be appreciated, I have to say that much of the functionality and beauty of the ‘story’ would be lost. The Storehouse versions flow and bounce and twist (to close) in the fluid way we have grown accustomed to in well executed iPad apps. And while images can be cropped in the ‘story’, a single tap has the image appear full screen and uncropped.

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While less than a week old the Storehouse community is growing and, like me, they see a lot of potential and room to grow.

I think Storehouse would be great learning tool for schools. My daughter loves creating Keynote (Powerpoint) slides about her favourite subjects. On an iPad I could see the simplicity and intuitive nature of Storehouse being really popular with children creating home or class projects – but for that to happen I would want the ability to create private accounts, maybe even private groups where stories could be shared with the class, youth club, etc.

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I can also see me using Storehouse as a presentation tool – particularly for image heavy and Pecha Kucha style slides; particularly for the cropped images that then appear full screen.

But, I’ve kept you for far too long – you should try it out for yourself.

Have a browse through the stories I’ve linked below, including my own ‘SuperFly’ exhibition retrospective… (read more about SuperFly here)

Remember where you heard about Storehouse first – if it was here then come back and tell me what you think. If you make a ‘story’ (or you already have one) link to them in the comments below or Tweet me @OnTheSuperFly

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Digital Imaging on iPad (via AudioBoo)

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The images above are on display at Perth Museum and Art Gallery. From left to right, the second, fourth and fifth displays were completed as part of an iPad workshop I led in November 2012 and are exhibited until the end of March.

This week some of the young people who took part in the project, (as part of the Living Communities programme) came back to view their exhibited work and I was able to talk to them about their experience and share those thoughts via AudioBoo which will also be tagged to the work on display via a QR Code.

The interesting thing for me is that the young people are enjoying using the touch screen for the same reasons as I do – immediate, responsive (interactive) and an enjoyable way of working – as opposed to a mouse and multiple clicks. Given the immediate responsive nature of the touch screen I would suggest that it holds more creative potential – see here.

In one of his last keynotes Steve Jobs talked about how the iPad was “people’s favourite device” – backed up only last month by this report. They were enjoying the experience of the web, gaming and even productivity much more on the iPad than they were on desktops or laptops. I’d already had that experience myself but noticed that my son losing interest in his Nintendo DS if the iPad was an option.

So, as exciting as it was to see this work on display it was equally as rewarding to hear that a new found interest was being kindled (no pun intended) through me introducing a touch screen in this context. And, you can hear for yourself in the clips below…

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Some of the images in their native form back in November.

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iPad – therefore iLearn

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Over the past 18 months I have had many opportunities to use the iPad as a learning tool and information on Playful Communications: learning and training services can be found here.

As a combination of camera, audio recorder, note-pad and presentation tool I initially thought it would be useful to me but more and more I’ve been finding apps that have supplied me with ideas for great learning projects both at home, in classrooms, colleges. I have been able to use the iPad2 to great effect as part of the Living Communities project based at Perth Museum and Art Gallery and with so many tablets out in the professional world there is huge scope now for corporate training.

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Mobile devices are offering amazing creative opportunities. With the advent of the 69p ‘app’ accessibility to software is unprecedented.

While these apps are not considered industry standard in the way that Adobe Creative Suite might be, they are offering genuine, valuable insights into industry processes. In fact, the immediacy of touch screen technology coupled with intuitive software can be a superior experience to the desktop and mouse, identifying a new way of working for the near future.

There are of course already professionals in the field whose tool kit consists of a ‘well app-ed’ mobile device. Journalists, bloggers, vloggers, social media amplifiers – the early adopters of these tool-kits have been the winners in recent years.

Many of the learning opportunities that Playful Communications offer are designed around the iPad. As an Apple user of 20 years the iPad was a natural purchase.

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We also find iOS apps to be very stable. As participants often download the apps we have taught them to use, we want to be confident that the applications we advocate are safe and fit for use.

So while iOS is our platform of choice Playful Communications are also open to, and experienced in, using other devices on alternative platforms (Windows, Android, etc). 

In most cases the applications we use have a counterpart or similarly available application that will do the same job. If you use other products and would like workshops or training in those areas then please contact us to discuss.