Hello, Roz here. If you’re reading this, it means you’ve either googled the word ‘Fenton’ hoping to find this video of Fenton the dog, or you’ve come to read the first ever Fenton Lab blog. Hurray. Oh, and as a heads up, I will link to relevant things, but I’ll also link to some of my favourite videos and GIFs too just for fun.
So let’s get down to business.
I’m hearing the cries loud and clear: “Hey internet! Do you know what I’m always in need of? An interactive, creative and cost-effective way to tell compelling stories to an audience online!” Well, here’s something I’ve been playing around with this month that may be the answer: audio slideshows.
Audio slideshows are in no way new. News outlets have been using them for years and, in fact, the tool I tried out this month has been around since 2005. However, the way we tell stories online is becoming increasingly dependent on multimedia and interactive platforms, and some of the older tools are still the best to do just that.
Audio slideshows quite simply do this: package together audio and photography into a lovely multimedia package that tells a story to your audience. The tricky part is getting good photos and audio to make the audio slideshow interesting. I’m going to give a very simple overview on the basics of an audio slideshow and point you in the direction of some useful guides and articles that will go into more depth.
What You Need:
- A camera to take photos (funny, that)
- Audio recorder (dictaphone, or even an iphone app dictaphone)
- Take some photos. Do you have a professional photographer at hand? Handy! If not, don’t fret. You don’t have to be a world class photographer to make an engaging audio slideshow- simplistic shots of your subject can still work just as nicely. Or photos of goats up trees. Whatever you fancy, really.
- Record some audio. There’s lots of things you could record with your dictaphone or mic: an interview; the sounds from an event or an area; someone talking about their experiences; music. Think about what you want to tell your audience and reflect that. Audio slideshow for a wedding? Maybe their recordings from family talking about the couple. Audio slideshow reporting a local protest? Maybe use the sounds of the atmosphere mixed with some testimony from the protesters.
- Edit that sound! I used Audiacity which was a free tool you can download here, and a very helpful guide can be found here on how to use the basic functions of it. By edit that sound, I mean speed it up or slow it down, chop and change it around, reduce background noise, duplicate parts and even silence sections. Edit the sound to reflect what your photos show. Once it’s finished, you’ll need to convert the audio into an MP3, which you can do here.
- Pulling it together. So you have the photos and a final MP3 of your audio. What next? Well, there are a number of tools to make audio slideshows. If you’re on windows, there is Windows Movie Maker and Photo Story, which are both easy ways to drag and drop photos into any order you’d like, and simply drop the audio alongside it. For more advanced options, Final Cut Pro is great- a bonus of using a video editor to produce an audio slideshow is the ability to display multiple photos at once in the canvas view. I personally went with Soundslides, which has very easy-to-understand editing options and automatically sizes your photos for the web. However, not being able to edit the audio at all once it’s in Soundslides was frustrating. If you use Soundslides, make sure you are 100% happy with your audio before you put it in, as it can be a pain re-uploading it and rearranging your photos all over.
That’s pretty much it. That’s not to say you’ll suddenly jump right into being a genius at audio recording or develop mad skills in photography after making few audio slideshows, but you will start to develop some basic skills in producing content for the web. Try it! Here’s one I made earlier (you can also watch it below).
What’s good about them?
Video editing is costly – audio slideshows are not. You also do not need to know Flash or have programming skills, which is great for newbies.
What’s bad about them?
Audio slideshows have been sometimes been branded as boring. Don’t let yours be boring by taking inspiration from the brilliant NYT ‘One in Eight Million’ project ( I love this) and the Guardian’s huge selection of great audio slideshows.
Make sure your audio slideshow tells a journey or story of some sort. When watching it back, think to yourself “would my grandma find this interesting?” If you think your grandma wouldn’t even like it, then maybe try and put in some photos of cute puppies.