Photostory3 for Digital Storytelling

This is a revamped version of my old 'how-to' guide. I'm amazed that PS has never been upgraded!
NOTE - PS3 should now work fine with Windows 7.
You can print a hard copy of this guide by clicking on PAGE above and selecting the PRINT option.

Downloading and installing PhotoStory 3

PhotoStory3 is available free from the Microsoft website for owners of a valid version of Windows XP.
Go to
Click on Download PhotoStory 3
Select the SAVE option. Allow the installation file to download.
When complete this window will appear….
Click on OPEN and allow the software to install accepting the defaults.

NOTE: PhotoStory 3 also requires Windows Media Player 10. If you get an error message regarding Media Player go to and download it, then go back to your Photo Story install file and try again.

Before you begin construction

Gather your images

Ensure your images are of a 'web-friendly' size and resolution - for PS3 around 800 x 600 pixels is OK. Digital cameras, on normal settings produce images of print quality, far too large for use on the web.
Any basic image editing tool will enable you to resize your images.
Photoshop Elements works well but there are a range of free online image editors that do a good job.
Upload your digital images and save them into an easily identifiable folder in a convenient location on your hard drive eg. the ‘my pictures’ directory.

Script your voice over

Unlike in more sophisticated digital storytelling software options, when you use Photostory3 your voiceover is attached to each individual image.
A storyboard template can be useful to organise your images and to develop a script for what you wish to say for each one.
Here's an example you can adapt to suit your needs - In .doc format - DST storyboard.doc and as a .docx - DST storyboard.docx
Remember - good digital stories are economical with words and use the image to describe/ explain where ever possible.

Building your story

To begin a new digital story, open Photostory3 and accept the default BEGIN A NEW STORY setting when the program opens.
If you are returning to a previous story that you want to edit or complete select the EDIT A PROJECT option.

PS3 is organised into a series of steps – you can navigate through these steps with the NEXT and BACK buttons at the bottom of the screen.
Click the NEXT button at the bottom of the page to begin.

STEP 1 – Importing and editing images

Click on the IMPORT PICTURES button.
Browse your hard drive for the required photos. Click on a single image file and then click OK
Double click on the image file, to import it.
You can select more than one file at a time by holding down your control key (CTRL) on your keyboard.

Your selected images will show in the ‘filmstrip’ (or timeline) at the bottom of the PS3 screen in the order in which they will show in your ‘story’.
You can change the order of your images in the filmstrip by clicking on the one you want to move, holding down your left mouse button and dragging it left or right to the desired position …

You will work on each image individually. Click on an image to select it – it will appear in the ‘viewing and editing window’ above. You must see an image in this editing window to make changes to it.

You will notice that vertical (portrait) images, like the one above, have a black border on each side. If you want to crop the image to remove the border click on the REMOVE BLACK BORDERS button.
NOTE: However, if you choose this option it will remove the top and/or bottom of your image as you can see in this photo below.

You can move the area to be selected by dragging the corners OR by clicking in the centre of the selected area and dragging it up or down.
If you decide not to crop, simply click CANCEL. The black borders are sometimes the best option!

Each of your images can be edited individually within PS3 if you wish.
You can easily adjust the colour levels, correct red eye, and rotate images with the click of the buttons below the image viewer. More advanced options are available by clicking on the EDIT button.

If you do want to edit, select the appropriate tab at the top of the screen.
In the ADD EFFECTS tab you can choose from a range of effects including sepia tones. The effect can be applied to one image only or all of the images in your story by ticking the box.
Click on the SAVE button when you are happy with the desired result and then CLOSE.

Repeat this step with the remaining images if desired.
Click NEXT when complete to move onto the next step.

Before you go any further save your project by clicking on the SAVE PROJECT button at the bottom of the main PS3 window.
The project saves by default to the MY VIDEOS directory on your hard drive with a .WP3 file extension. You might prefer (especially if you are working on a computer that is not your own) to redirect where the file saves to a folder for your digital story that also contains your images etc.
Give your project an easily identifiable name and click SAVE.

NOTE: Your PROJECT is only a work in progress NOT your final movie which will be saved later on when everything is complete. The project file is very important however as it is what you can use to edit your story in the future.

STEP 2 – Adding written text

Written text can easily be added as sub-titles or instructions on individual images.
Image 1 in your ‘filmstrip’ can become your title page and the last image can be used for credits if needed.

NOTE: You may wish to import a plain coloured image file for this use. You can create this in your image editing program by creating a new image of the same size as your other imported images (eg 800 x 600 pixels) and then using the FILL tool to add colour. Save as usual (jpeg is best).

Select the image you wish to add text to. Type the text in the text box provided. Adjust the position, font, colour etc with the options above the text box.
Repeat the process for the remaining images if desired.

SAVE PROJECT – accept previous name and agree to over-right previous file if it asks.
Click NEXT to move onto the next step.

STEP 3 – Narrating your voiceover

To add a voiceover you need a computer microphone. A simple external mic is fine or the mic attached to a combined headphone/mic set works well. Plug your mic into the microphone socket on your computer – these are often colour coded or have a small icon to guide you if it is not a USB.
You can test out your mic and speakers by clicking on the small icon to the right of the screen. A pop up window will guide you through the process.
If it does not work you may need the settings of the MIC and speakers in your computers sound settings (locate the sound devices in the Control panel).

The voice over is attached to individual images.
When you are confident that your MIC is working select the image you wish to ‘talk to’.
Click on the red recording button in the centre of the page, speak and then click the stop button when complete.
You can type your script into the text box provided if you choose.
Click on the PREVIEW button to check the sound etc. There is a delete button if you want to start afresh.
Repeat this process for remaining images as desired and click on SAVE PROJECT as before.

STEP 4– Customising the motion

(i.e. adjusting the transitions between images)
A wide range of transition options are available in PS3 although you do not need to change the transition at all which automatically defaults to a zoom out .
If you do wish to use different transition options click on the CUSTOMISE MOTION button under the editing window. You can adjust the length, type and direction of the transitions using the options and settings in the 2 tab screens provided.
Try out a few things and PREVIEW.
Click SAVE when you are happy with the result, and CLOSE the screen.

Repeat for remaining images and click NEXT to move on to the next step.

STEP 4 – Adding music

Use background music with caution as it can distract (as well as enhance) from your message.
You can either import music of your choice from your hard drive OR create a music track in PS3.
To import music you must have music saved on your hard drive (normally as MP3 files).
Music can be downloaded from the web if licenced under educational or creative commons licences - eg. (but remember to acknowledge your source on your credits page!)

Click on the SELECT MUSIC button, locate the track of your choice and click the OPEN button to import.
The track will automatically play behind all of the images in your story.
It is usually necessary to reduce the volume of the music using the sliding control above the timeline.

You can also have a lot of fun creating music tracks within PS3.
Click on the CREATE MUSIC button.
Select the genre, style, band, mood, tempo and intensity to suit your story and click the PLAY button to preview.
Click OK to add the track and adjust the volume as required as above.
Click on SAVE PROJECT as before.
Click NEXT to move to the final step.

STEP 5 – Saving your movie

Now that your digital story is complete you must save the final version as a file that will play in a 'movie' like way.
A range of options are available depending on how you plan to use your digital story but normally you will choose the top default option of saving your movie to your computer hard drive.
Click on the ACTIVITY and check that the file is being saved to a location of your choice. Adjust this by clicking the BROWSE button.
Check the QUALITY SETTINGS and adjust if necessary. Normally the default is OK.

Click on the NEXT button and wait while your movie is being created.
It will save as a .wmv file (Windows Media Video file). To play .wmv files you must have the latest version of Windows Media Player installed on your computer. This is a free download from the Microsoft site if needed.

When the movie has saved click on VIEW YOUR STORY to watch the final product.
After closing PS3 you can play the movie again by locating the .wmv file on your hard drive and opening it as you would a normal file.
You do not need to open PS3 for viewing.

Other DST software options

Other good software options are Adobe Premiere Elements and Movie Maker.
One online tool that looks promising for video editing and digital storytelling is Mixmoov