Archives for posts with tag: audio slideshows

The students in Multimedia Journalism voted on one another’s audio slideshows after we did a screening and critique in class last week. Winners got their choice of two versions of Auburn University College of Liberal Arts T-shirts as a reward. Around here, that means either orange on blue or blue on orange. Either’s a great option.

Hands down, the students’ favorite was Reese Counts’ piece on a Triumph Motorcycles shop not far from campus on Opelika Road, a place called Skinner’s. As you’ll see, Counts had free range of the place, and access means a world of possibilities when shooting still photos.

Kate Seckinger’s piece on Chick-Fil-A took second prize. You can see the rest of the audio slideshows by clicking the links below. Please enjoy!

They were produced by creating audio stories in Audacity, shooting, culling and editing photos using Lightroom and Photoshop, and blending the two media forms in Soundslides’ Demo version.

Unfortunately, blogs do not work and play well with complex projects that combine folders and files, so we used Google Drive as a host server. It’s not an elegant solution, and most of the students noted that following the upload steps in precisely the right order and some of the subtler aspects of Google Drive made the upload the most challenging part of the assignment.

But that’s the way journalism works in the online world in a time when many newspapers are shedding their dependence on paper and ink in favor of browsers and bandwidth: Everybody needs to know a little technology, regardless of whether we believe (or even want to believe) that we’re technology people.

Multimedia journalism uses technology in the service of telling a story.

As with so much in life, learning to do this using Google Drive had a learning curve. When you first do a thing, it can be frustrating. When processes break down, you have to figure out how to troubleshoot it. That’s what everybody in this course did together (and that includes me) for this assignment.

One of the greatest things about blogging on is that it costs nothing unless you want to buy a preminum theme or extra storage space in the cloud. One pitfall is that its architecture is set up to really, really like using single jpegs, tiffs, docs and the like but it doesn’t work with folders full of files. That’s problematic for SoundSlides creators. Solution: Post about your SoundSlide and link to Google Drive.

A turn-of-the-century mp3 player.

A turn-of-the-century mp3 player.

Of course, if you’re a student or university employee, you have space available on your drive. But I’ve never played with that space and I’m much more of a storytelling and journalism guy than a tech guy, so even with a lot of coaching I was about to tear my hair out. But I know that the folks at Google make it ridiculously simple to do things that would have required all-nighters and copious quantities of caffeine to produce back when I was an undergrad. And as it happens, Fortunately, I ran across this great post over at the Journo Tech blog called “Using Google Drive as a Web Host.”

Really, this is a brilliant solution. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and I get to keep all my hair now. As a sample, I’ve posted a quick-and-dirty slideshow I created using SoundSlides to merge photos of magazine covers from a research project about a magazine I’ve come to think of as the antebellum South’s version of The Economist: De Bow’s Review. It’s nothing fancy: just 11 photos of covers of the magazine from just before the Civil War. I shot the photos at the Special Collections and Archives section at Ralph B. Draughon Library at Auburn University last summer for an article that’s just been published this week by American Journalism. As for the music, a scratchy turn-of-the-twentieth-century recording of the Neapolitan Trio performing Stephen Foster’s “My Old Kentucky Home,” that one’s used under Creative Commons License. I obtained it at Free Music Archive, which is an outstanding resource for historical music that is so old it has passed out of copyright and into the public domain. Word to my students: You can get into big legal trouble if you violate copyright. There are so many who have pirated downloaded music that it’s hard for the recording industry to keep up with all of them, so its default position often seems to be to simply give up. But as a content creator online, you are MUCH more visible to them. As in, when you link to their stuff, it’s like Frodo putting on the One Ring and attracting the gaze of Sauron. So be careful what you use, because you might get a cease-and-desist letter (at best) or a hefty bill (at worst).

If you’re interested in Old South journalism history, you might want to give it a look here. It’s titled “Brave Old Spaniards and Indolent Mexicans: J. Ross Browne, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, and the Social Construction of Off-Whiteness in the 1860s.

Just a side note to my brothers and sisters in the world of journalism and mass communication history: Soundslides is not that complicated to master. You could easily record your own narration about your research project to accompany the slides, or you can tuck the information that would go into your narration down into the captions and let the music serve to create a feel for the time period. Yeah, I know. If you’re like me, you have a stack of papers to grade and a research agenda to pursue. But multimedia has power to make what we do accessible to people who might otherwise not pay much attention.

The audio slideshow was the first truly multimedia storytelling form in the world of online news. It originated in newspaper newsrooms at the beginning of the Internet era in the 1990s. As we work from learning to use the simple Web 2.0 story form (blogging on WordPress) toward the most complex (creating video stories), students in JRNL 3510 this week are completing their 10-picture photo galleries on their blogs, complete with captions. Audio slideshows are the logical next step after this assignment.

Our next major assignment in Multimedia Journalism will be an audio slideshow created in SoundSlides. An audio slideshow consists of still photos and audio. The highly recommended audio recording gear for this assignment is the Zoom H1 Handy Recorder. It’s lightweight, but it provides excellent sound quality and reasonably fine input control for the mobile journalist. AmazonB&H Photo and New Egg have them for between $95 and $100. I’ve had great luck with all three vendors.

As one might logically assume, photojournalists were the pioneers of the audio slideshow. Because they were mostly visual thinkers and not audio producers, photojournalists’ earliest audio slideshows typically used one continuous interview clip, a single linear narration recorded by the photos’ creator, or a song as an audio “backdrop” for their stories. This was an important step toward integrating visuals with sound. But in its early stages, the audio slideshow often consisted of two separate stories on slightly different tracks: one visual, the other audio. One complemented the other, but they didn’t tell the same story simultaneously. Our goal is to develop integrated stories in which the audio track speaks about or provided context for the visuals simultaneously visible onscreen.

Thus, the audio slideshows we create will use some of the logic of writing for TV. In a television voiceover script (or VO), producers use the SWAP method: Synchronize words and pictures.That’s what you’re going for here: The audio track could stand by itself. Or the sequence of photos with captions could stand by itself. But the voices and sounds in the audio track must be relevant to each of the images onscreen while the audio track can be hears. Sound and images sync together.

The best way to understand this story form is to view and listen to great examples. Here are a variety of them from major news sites, including the British Broadcasting Corp., The Guardian, Australian Broadcasting Corp., and the New York Times. They come from Maureen Fisher’s list of examples on a class blog at Temple University.

A Surgeon in Somalia

The Dog and the Whale

Down the Local

All Round the Houses: Confessions of a Milkman

Disappearing Acts: Turning a Bowl on a Pole Lathe

The Mobile Nurse: Rebecca Wilner

Skulls, Strings and Philosophy: An Exploration into the Life of a Tattoo Artist

Mulch Fest

Cut in Half

Burlesque Art

Kitten Rescue

I’ve already distributed this assignment via class email, but here it is online as well. Your assignment is to critique two audio slideshows that inspire you. Your post must meet each of the following requirements to receive full credit:

  1. They must be relevant to your blog topic.
  2. They must have captions on all photos.
  3. Provide their titles. In the titles, link to them using inline links. Don’t just type the URL in your post. It’s unprofessional.
  4. Identify the people who created them. Include the name of their news organizations.
  5. Briefly describe and critique their content. How well do they synchronize sound with pictures? Is each image onscreen long enough for you to “read” the image? Or are they up for too short of a time? How well are the captions written? Use “Writing photo cutlines (aka captions).pdf” as your guide to good captions.
  6. Briefly explain the journalistic value in their content.
  7. Explain what you find inspiring about them.
  8. Ask your readers a question related to the content in one or more of the slideshows you identify.
  9. Assign categories and tags to your post.

Deadline: Post by 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24. Email link to your post

Example of the kind of slideshow I want you to write about:
The Girl in the Window: Danielle, 6, was rescued from unfathomable living conditions. Can the love and care of her adoptive family compensate for a lifetime of neglect? An audio slideshow by the Tampa Bay Tribune.

Some good places to find audio slideshows to critique:
New York Times Multimedia/Photos page online: The Times has wonderful examples of audio wedded to beautiful photography with excellent captions. But be careful what you pick here; lots of simple slideshows with just photos and captions live here. For this assignment, please remember that you must critique slideshows that have audio tracks as well as captions for each photo. A Google advanced search can help you find that.*

National Geographic: I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again: This is the gold standard for technically excellent and vibrant photography.

Online News Association Social Shares: Top Audio/Photo Slideshows:  It’s only appropriate to tap the wisdom of a very wise ONA crowd to locate the best multimedia journalism content online. If you go here, for this assignment, be sure to pick a photo slideshow. Do not pick video to write about; video will be the subject of your third mandatory critique blog post.

Jedi search tip for finding audio slideshows: You can also do the following search in Google to narrow the search results to nothing but audio slideshows on a given site by searching for the exact phrase “audio slideshow” and the word “site” followed by a colon and a url. Example of what to type in the Google search window: “audio slideshow”

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