I’ve just been putting together a workshop which fits around some discussion about audio journalism and audio slideshows in particular (more about that in the Ivory tower dispatch later this week).
In trying to put something practical together you soon get to see the limitation of the form within the kind of ‘freeconomy’ that exists for most web output. Publish on a WordPress.com blog for example and the lack of ability to upload and embed files means daddy of slideshow builders, Soundslides, brilliant as it is, is often a closed book unless you go the route of exporting to video.
So I was interested in exploring ways to pull together an audio slideshows together that gave you editorial control but didn’t require too much expensive software. So, that rules out but doesn’t dismiss using video editors as the platform to create the slideshow. I know a lot of people who use things like FCP to create image movies. You certainly see the influence of that with the greater prevalence of mixed-media stuff that’s coming out now. But image movies miss that navigation you get with Soundslides so…
These are couple of solutions I worked through.
The Slideshare option.
- Record your audio using something like Audioboo or soundcloud. I chose these platforms because they had nifty apps for my iphone so I could record the audio and back it up at the same time. There’s nothing stopping you using native audio recording apps.
- Create a PowerPoint file containing the images, in order, for your slideshow. Because I’m using Slideshare, PowerPoint is pretty much required. What’s nice about is the collection of tools you have to add text etc. The slides don’t need to be a set length etc. They only need to be in order.
- Upload the finished PowerPoint to Slideshare.
- Upload your audio to Slideshare. Locate your presentation in your list of slides on slideshare. Then click the Add Audio. You can either link to an online file or upload one. One of the original reasons I used Audioboo was because it was easy to get a direct link to the MP3 file (just add .mp3 to the end of the url) but Slideshare didn’t seem to like the link and wouldn’t pull the file from AudioBoo directly, so I uploaded a version that I download from Audioboo!
- Use the Slideshare editor to match your audio and slides. This is, and I’m not underselling this part, a bit frustrating. The editor uses a kind of windowed timeline which makes moving things around a bit of a pain, but it’s not a deal breaker. Some clicking around and you’ll get the feel of it. However its biggest failing is the patchy preview which is unpredictable. I often found it easier to save and check it in the normal view.
Hey presto! You have an audio slideshow. Embedding in blogs is pretty easy and there is a tried and tested shortcode for wordpress.com/org blogs.
The Windows movie maker option
The second option I toyed with was the video route. I know, I know, I said I ruled out the video route but WMM is free!
I’ve blogged before about using WMM to create slideshows before, so I won’t go in to that process other than to flag up two things:
- I used Powerpoint to generate the images in the slideshow. I just saved the presentation as a JPEG and it gives the option to save each slide as a separate image.
- I had to convert my audioboo MP3 to a WAV format. WMM doesn’t like the variable bit rate of the MP3 and syncing sound to pictures was impossible. I used Audacity to do this.
Once I had created the movie I uploaded to Youtube.
The other advantage of youtube here (rather than the image movie fave Vimeo) is that it offers a chance to put some of the interactivity in to the slideshow. Youtube’s video annotations (which may notice on the video above) give you the chance to add a level of interactivity to the video and the captions option also opens up some possibilities for adding more depth.
Aesthetically the slideshows are not going to please everyone. The restricted aspect ratio of both forms might offend the more cinematically minded in the multimedia journalism community for example. But small amount of faff aside, they are easy and free solutions and the exploration of the form (which is more what I’m interested in) is still there.