multi media storytelling

a collection of my work in the course from fall 2020 @ usfca


MS 101: Multi-Media Storytelling is a class offered at the University of San Francisco. I took this class with Professor Natacha Ruck in Fall 2020, and all pieces shown were created during this semester between August to December 2020. This website was created by Tawny using HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Bootstrap. You can view the GitHub repository here. You can visit Tawny's full portfolio site at


This semester I was able to put together various works and projects as part of the MS 101 Multi-Media Storytelling class. These culminating projects include an audio story, a collection of photographs relating to a theme, and a video project. Throughout the duration of the course, I was able to find my voice as a storyteller, specifically through introspection and focusing my projects on personal experiences of mine. Prior to taking this class, I hadn’t had much experience with audio editing, took photos without much calculated thought, and dabbled with video editing for a few personal projects and contests. The software and applications I was most familiar with were iMovie, VSCO, and a bit of Davinci Resolve. Thanks to this class, I was able to learn much about editing audio using software like Hindenburg, different kinds of shots used in video such as establishing shots, over-the-shoulder shots, POV shots, etc., the rule of thirds in photography, shooting video with editing in mind, and so much more.

One of the first things we did in class was candidly brainstorm things we are/things we are not, and talk about an object of importance to us. These brainstorming sessions were incredibly helpful as it was the first time I put pieces of my own story on paper, which led me into beginning to visualize how I could take these feelings, moments, and experiences further into an artistic piece. Some topics I was able to explore further include working while in college (and during a pandemic), the complexities of having an intersectional identity, in terms of being biracial, the historic lack of diversity in tech (as a computer science major myself), imposter syndrome, etc.

Prior to this class, I had never put together an audio piece before, so it was definitely an interesting process with many challenges along the way. Something I struggled with initially was wanting the story to be “perfect” the first time around, and to be able to tell it in one smooth recording. I quickly realized that that is not entirely realistic, and that the drafting process requires much more than just one simple recording before you can get your story to the perfect state you want it to be. After letting go of my goal of “perfection” the first time around for my piece, I started to break up the sections of my story and what I wanted to say, so that my goals and vision for the piece would be much more attainable/realistic. This made the drafting process much less daunting for me, and I came to realize that my “perfect” story would start to take form as I continued to work on editing, revising, rerecording, and really experimenting with what I have.

With the 100 photograph assignment, I thought it was really interesting to take photos with intention, and have a specific style, method, or theme in mind as I took the photos. There were many photography techniques that I actually hadn’t heard of prior to discussing it in class, such as the rule of thirds. I always like taking scenery photos and appreciating the architecture in San Francisco, so this was a technique I tried to explore in some of my photos. In the photo section of my portfolio site, I decided to showcase my love of San Francisco and the unique look (and style) of the buildings even further. The title of my photo collection is “The Architecture of San Francisco”, and in this collection, I wanted my images to all be shots from my “point of view”, displaying on the screen what I see every time I look up and appreciate the beauty of the scenery around me. This exercise was super fun for me, and I really enjoyed stepping outside with my iPhone to capture some beautiful moments and scenes around me. I was definitely reminded of the old phrase “a picture speaks a thousand words” while I was editing and selecting my photos, as looking at the moments I captured really evoked great emotion in me. I feel really inspired to continue to take photos both with intention and without, and really explore the stories I can tell without words or motion.

The final video project was one of my favorite projects to work on this semester. The endless possibilities of what I could tell the story of and how I could tell the story were of course overwhelming initially, but it was really enjoyable getting to experiment with different things. After brainstorming various ideas and beginning to get experimental B-roll footage, I knew that I wanted to tell the story rooted in my experience of identifying with various different groups but never truly feeling to be a part of them. Specifically I wanted to talk about my experience growing up biracial (half Asian and half White), being a woman pursuing a (computer science) degree in a male dominated field, not wanting to pursue a typical career path of being a software engineer, being a first generation low income college student, and how all of these intersect with one another. After much experimentation, trial and error, I decided to tell my story by showcasing a lot of doing, and less telling/talking. In my video, I show a “typical” morning in my life, going back and forth between actions of me getting ready and questions without definitive answers that run through my mind in regards to my identity.

Putting together my portfolio site was also something I really enjoyed doing. Having previous experience with web development/design, I thought it would be cool to use my knowledge of HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap to code my portfolio site for this class. I ended up putting together my portfolio website for the class in this way, and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. I formatted it with different pages for each of the three main projects (audio story, photo collection, final video), and my reflection.

Overall this class really helped me to change my perspective and gain a richer understanding of storytelling and my role as a storyteller in life. I learned many fundamental techniques that built upon much of my prior (novice) experience with putting together videos, taking photos to capture moments/stories, and just telling stories to those around me in daily life. I learned many key skills that play into the art of communication and storytelling, the importance of version control and the drafting process, and to be unapologetic in the distribution of my stories/art, while also welcoming critique and feedback. I’m excited to continue exploring the topics we covered in class outside of that in my daily life, as I grow as a storyteller.