There's still plenty of time to participate in the second annual TechSoup Digital Storytelling Challenge! Finished video or photo stories created according to the challenge guidelines can be submitted at the challenge website.

Don't know about the challenge? Read the details on the TechSoup Digital Storytelling Event page to see how you can win some great prizes before the submission period ends at 5 p.m. Pacific time, January 31, 2011.

TechSoup just finished its second digital storytelling webinar of the event, Tools for Digital Storytelling, with Melissa Jun Rowley of WhatGives!? and Erika Padilla-Morales of Streetside Stories. Melissa and Erika explained the process and equipment needed to shoot, produce, and broadcast a digital story ' here's some of their advice from the webinar.

Melissa Jun Rowley, cause correspondent for WhatGives!?:

You just want to be able to work backwards. You want to go into a shoot already knowing the questions you're going to ask somebody, already knowing the responses you're going to get.

Movement is very crucial, because nobody likes looking at stagnant, still shots.

You want to make sure that you don't have the jump cuts in the video. A jump cut is something that you see when you're watching a local news broadcast. It can look unprofessional, and you're using this to draw potential funders, so you want to be as polished and professional as possible.

Erika Padilla Morales, media arts coach at Streetside Stories:

With voiceover, you want to make sure that when you create that voiceover that you actually read your story or your script with the emotion that you want to convey with your audience. Sometimes people will look at their script and they'll read it like a robot, like they've never read those words before.

I call it the blanket method of recording and it may sound ridiculous, but if you put a sheet or a blanket over the recording source, the microphone, and the recording artist, that dampens out the noise. I usually work in schools where it's hard to find a quiet place, and that usually dampens out the sound. Anything that blocks other sounds will help with the recording process.

If you're using just still images I recommend about eight images a minute. You can take stills from a video.

The webinar recording is available for those who missed the event, and you can also join in on the followup discussion on the TechSoup forums. You can also check out a recording our first webinar, How to Tell Your Digital Story, for learning the basics of telling a compelling digital story.

You can also follow the conversation across Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube using the #TSDigs tag. That tag is being used for Twitter chat roundtables with digital storytelling experts, you can catch the last one at 11 a.m. Pacific time on January 25.

Need some ideas for inspiration? See this video from skza.org, a third-place winner in last year's event:

And here's Legacy International's fourth-place winning submission from our first challenge:

For an example of a great photo entry, here's a link to last year's second-place winning entry by Dragonfly Forest.

Remember, the deadline to submit your entry is 5 p.m. Pacific time, January 31, 2011. Prizes include video cameras from TechSoup partner Flip Video, whose video cameras were recommended by webinar presenter Melissa Jun Rowley, video-editing software from Adobe (see Adobe's donation program), and more. Now all you need to do is hit the record button, if you attended today's webinar, you'll know you can fix any mistakes in post (and save them for the bloopers reel).

Carlos Bergfeld
Lead Web Content Developer, TechSoup Global