Writing to be heard: Audio slide shows
By this time in the semester, students should have traveled a great distance in their understanding of journalism and in their acquisition and practice of the skills involved in producing good journalism.
- Students should have a good grip on the basic principles of writing and the expectations of the audience, the medium they are using, and the profession in which they operate.
- They should know what it means to gather useful and original information from credible sources.
- They should be able to use basic equipment (the computer, digital camera, digital recorder, etc.)
- Students should be able to confidently use the different forms of writing to adapt to whatever medium is most useful in presenting the information.
This knowledge and set of skills should be brought to bear on the final project for the course: an audio slide show. During this week’s lecture, we will discuss in some detail what is involved in putting together an audio slide show.
Seven steps to an audio slideshow
An audio slideshow is a journalistic form that combines sound and still pictures to tell a story. Here’s an outline of the steps you should take to produce one.
1. FORM THE IDEA
— what’s the slideshow about; what story is being told
A clear idea that you can state concisely – in one sentence – helps you to produce a good audio slideshow. Sometimes you can approach this problem by asking a question that your audio slideshow will answer.
2. DRAFT THE SCRIPT
— two to three minutes (or as long as necessary)
— time the script (remember: 10-15 pictures per minute)
This is just a draft, but it’s important to begin to get your ideas formed into sentences quickly. How do you think the slideshow will go? What pictures do you have or think you will get? Maybe just an outline will suffice at this point, but you should go ahead and write something. Remember that this is a script; that is, it will be read aloud. You should apply the best principles of broadcast writing.
3. SHOOT THE PHOTOS
— Rule No. 1: Take lots of pictures
— Long-range, midrange, close-ups
— Control the background, fill the frame, wait for moments
— Rule of thirds
— Last rule: Take lots of pictures
Apply all of the principles of good photojournalism to your audio slideshow. (You can review some of those at this page on JPROF.) Because an audio slideshow is a form most commonly found on a website, close-up shots should probably dominate, but you should definitely have a mixture of shots.
4. REVISE AND EDIT THE SCRIPT
(and shoot more photos)
Once you have the photos you think you need in hand, you can work on the final draft of the script. Again, remember to apply good broadcast writing principles.
5. RECORD AND EDIT THE AUDIO (AUDACITY)
— ambient sound
— music and sound effects
Try to record your narration in a place where you can get the highest quality and the least background noise. Audio is quality is extremely important, so make some effort on this point. The easiest-to-use and most available audio recording software is Audacity; you can download that to your computer. You can even use Audacity to record your narration in case you don’t have a separate voice recorder.
6. SELECT, EDIT AND SEQUENCE THE PICTURES
— software: Picasa, iMovie, Soundslides, Animoto
— create title, credit and date slides
Make sure the pictures are in the right order and that they follow the narration. Any number of software programs will allow you to do this. If you don’t have one in mind, we recommend Picasa, which is a free Google program. (There are PC and Mac versions that you can download to your computer.)
7. COMBINE SOUND AND PICTURES
— convert to video file
— upload (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)
— breathe a sigh of relief
— tell your friends
Picasa has a very easy way of combining your pictures with the audio file that have created (Step 5). Once you have done that, you simply click on the proper buttons to create the video that will be the slideshow. Picasa will upload the video to your YouTube account, or it can simply put it on your computer, and you can upload it to another video hosting service such asVimeo. Then you can post it to Facebook.
Halls Outdoor Classroom by Megan Young (JEM 200, Spring 2010)
Megan Young produced this slideshow as part of a final assignment in her spring 2010 JEM 200 class.