Category Archives: Audio Slideshows

Olympic suburbs audio slideshow

Public to name Olympic suburbs

Here’s a good audio slideshow from the BBC on the plans for the areas around the Olympic stadium and what they will look like.

There is a voiceover, rather than Q and A, done by Duncan Innes, from the Olympic Park Legacy Company. The images are a mixture of shots of the state of the areas now and artistic impressions of what the suburbs will look like.

The slideshow is done particularly well because they match what Innes is saying to the images with great precision e.g. when he says one area will be very close to the cycling facilities, we are on an artist’s impression of the velodrome and cycling track etc. A couple of seconds later, Innes says it will be close to the station – and we get a close up shot of Stratford station.

Timing is clearly everything – and just as important here as it is with voiceovers for video footage. I get the impression the voiceover was recorded first then the images were timed to fit.


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What makes a good audio slideshow?

Having dabbled in making a couple of audio slideshows, we felt it was high time to collate some of what we’ve learnt along the way, and investigate how we could have improved our efforts further.

The central question which has pervaded our forays into this medium is, of course, why the audio slideshow? Because we’re not hi-tech enough for video? No. Because audio slideshows are much quicker to produce and are therefore the lazy person’s video? Hours of getting to grips with complicated editing processes in the computer labs says not. Because audio slideshows are the thinking person’s video? Now we’re getting warmer…

As soon as we started investigating the best slideshows out there it became apparent that this was a highly effective, contemplative medium that, like all of the best forms of journalism, could open someone’s eyes up to thinking about a topic in a different way. Whereas video has become a very common place medium, used to convey the facts of what is happening in the world in a very practical, perfunctory way, a slideshow elevates the subject matter to a slightly different status. In this way, creating a slideshow is a bit like portraying something in a photographic exhibition. ‘Here is something worth examining more closely, and contemplating in a more personal, more creative way,’ both an art exhibition and audio slideshow says. As Joe Weiss, creator of Soundslides (a rapid production tool for still image and audio web presentations), says when interviewed by Poynter’s Pat Walters:

for me, I do think … there’s a deliberateness in the editing [of still images], there’s a deliberateness in the visuals.

Indeed, audio slideshows are a great way of providing a little background to art exhibitions. I recently came across this great piece by the Guardian which sets children’s laureate Anthony Browne’s voice to some illustrations from this year’s Booktrust best new illustrators award. They are also great for drawing people’s attention to understated stories or issues, that the viewer might otherwise have overlooked, not realising the subtle interest to be drawn from them. A great example of this is The New York Times’ One in 8 Million series which each tell the personal story of a New York character’s life. I watched a really fascinating one on a wedding wardrober and his thoughts on the art and importance of male grooming.

In the words of Benjamin Chesterton, of audio slideshow specialists Duck Rabbit, audio slideshows are both a new language and a very old one. I agree; there’s a beautiful simplicity to this technique that really allows a certain story to be told in a clear and arresting way. I feel audio slideshows are real testament to the ‘less is more’ theory- a viewer is much more liekly to tune out if they feel bamboozled by stimulus overload.

The real beauty of the slideshow, several experts agree, is the way they make the viewer think for themselves. Again Chesterton encapsulates this better than I could:

with moving video, the viewer’s eye is centred – broadly, locked to the framing of the video camera. With still images, the eye roams. It stops and moves and stops and moves. Frozen gestures and expressions kick off a cognitive process – thinking – that moving images simply never do.

Something similar is true of good audio. The best audio blends reportage (‘being me, being here’) with the kind of aural cues that make audiences think and wander off down their own pathways while still engaging with the sound.

This is all very well, but how does one best arrest their viewer with a poignant and well-paced slideshow? Well, lots of practice is obviously key- it’s a lot about developing an eye and ear for what works. But here are some dos and don’ts compiled from my own experiments and those more well-versed in this field:


– source around 8-10 images per minute says Paul Kerley, also of Duck Rabbit fame, and the BBC’s slideshow guru

– have a clear relationship between what’s being heard and seen

– tell a story- even if it’s an interesting interview that you’re illustrating, be sure to edit it in such a way that there’s a thread running throughout that builds to a satisfying conclusion. If in doubt, remember the golden rules of GCSE story writing: have a beginning, middle and end.

– consider including captions underneath the images to specify exactly what’s going on. A contentious point this- some people say this is too confusing as the viewer won’t be able to read and listen simultaneously. If you do include captions, don’t just state the obvious and describe what the viewer can clearly see is happening in the slideshow.

– include background sound or ease the viewer in with an atmospheric sound which will set the scene nicely.

– do include a picture of the person who is narrating if they are relevant to the story being told.

– record a minute of the room you are recording in so that you can use the sound to add natural space between edits. VERY important this.

– include a good opening image to grab the viewer.


use too many photos- as discussed above, the whole point is that the viewer gets to contemplate each one for a decnt length of time and notice things they would miss in a video.

– use too few images as your slideshow will start to feel long and drawn-out and like it’s not really going anywhere.

– include any awkward transitions that distract the viewer from a poignant point being made. Don’t make transitions mid-thought but do use them to really emphasise that an important point is being. Think of the change as equivalent to the ‘clunk’ moment after a well-crafted drop-intro in written articles

– allow any background sound to drown out the narration.

– don’t use music or images you don’t have permission to use. Make sure music is royalty-free and only use your own images or those with creative commons on Flickr for example. Even then you must credit the photographer. Another good tip if you find a image you’re dying to use on Flickr, is to drop the owner a friendly email or Tweet- often they’ll be happy to let you use the image for some nice exposure of their work.

– have the subjects introduce themselves- you wouldn’t start a written article like this an expect to keep people hooked now would you?

– make you’re slideshows longer than 3 or 4 minutes.

Hope these are helpful. Let me know if you have any more top tips for us.


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Radiohead as you’ve never heard them before…

Fresh from a hectic fortnight of producing a magazine, us Audio Journalists were in need of a bit of light relief to get us motivated and inspired by audio journalism. Nothing could have done the job better than the Guardian’s rebuttal to Radiohead deciding, not content with being rated at 73 in Rolling Stone’s ‘The Greatest Artists of All Time’ poll, to publish a newspaper.

Lending a certain air of epic-music-making to the track, this is the audio slideshow at its finest… Rusbridger on keyboard brightened my day up no end. Enjoy!


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Back To Basics

In an industry hurtling toward new developments and different, faster, ways  of relaying information, it’s refreshing to stumble upon a more traditional, though no less effective, use of the audio slideshow.

In conjunction with the Rediscovering African Geographies exhibition at the Royal Geographical Society, African-born Cliff Pereira and Zagba Oyortey look at ancient maps of Africa’s ever-changing continent.

A video would probably have to contain reconstructions  to hold the viewer’s attention, there being not much footage from 1375. Pure audio would be impossible, as the interest lies in the images of the map just as much as the narration. Images without the commentary, however, would also be meaningless for the same reason.

No. It’s simple, old fashioned story telling best presented in audio slideshow format.

I mean, we are obviously biased, but still…


Have a look here


Rediscovering African Geographies is at the Royal Geographical Society in London between 22 March – 28 April 2011.


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An All-American Audio Slideshow: How to make Mississippi Mud Pie

Just to confirm what your probably already knew, making a cake is a lot more fun than making an audio slideshow.

Having said this, wanting to experiment with the latter was a good excuse to eat the former. So I decided, as a change from the usual written form of blogging on my pudding blog Just Desserts, I would document the making of my Mississippi Mud Pie with photographs, and add narration on how I concocted my pie.

I’ve been musing for a while on what kind of subject matter best lends itself to an audio slideshow. One of it’s most effective uses I feel is to explain something. I watched a nice slideshow on the Guardian website a while ago, on the Hubble space telescope. Now I’m no astronomy nut, and usually find any kind of contemplation of space either quite tedious and inaccessible, or so overwhelming that I’ll ruminate on my own insignificance for hours. This audio slideshow is really nicely done though and uses the medium to explain things in a wonderfully simple, accessible way.

I realise pudding is quite a different topic to space exploration, but the same principle applies I feel. Any kind of cooking is always really tricky without pictures and I deliberately avoid certain recipes and cookery books on this basis. Having a picture or online tutorial to hand is really helpful for those “should my mixture be resembling vomit at this stage?”, and “what the hell is a double boiler technique?!” moments.

And let’s be honest, looking at lots of pictures of puddings and chocolatey goo is a lot more fun than just reading about them…Now try not to dribble on your computers…



Not only was making the pie a lot more fun, but it was also a lot easier than making an audio slideshow.

I’ve realised that it could have all been a lot easier though had I known just a few key things about using Windows Movie Maker.

The main one was not to  move computers (or shut down your computer and have a break) halfway through making your project as you have to import all of your pictures into the programme again and this for some reason caused havoc with a couple of pictures that I’d rotated. It’s also really annoying to have to click on every single picture and get the computer to relocate the file. So it really is best to do it all in one go and then Capture Video to turn it into a finished product. I didn’t realise this was even the final stage and so also couldn’t work out how to get the damn thing uploaded onto YouTube.

Because it took me so long to redo my slideshow, some of the timings weren’t quite as sharp as I’d have liked them. Windows Movie Maker is really easy to get it right with though. All you have to is drag the pictures to the length of time you want them to be showing for, then re-listen to that section to make sure you’ve got the timing just right.

Once you have captured your project, YouTube recognises the file type and the jobs a goodun. All you have to do is paste your YouTube link into your blog and Blog’s Your Uncle!




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In love with Jordan: Audio Slideshow meets Travel Journalism

Inspired by fellow audio journalism blogger and as a travel enthusiast myself I decided to make an audio slideshow about a lovely eco-lodge I stayed at in Jordan a couple of months ago.

Check out my first attempt at an audio slideshow here… Hope you enjoy it and let me know what you think.

Originally written as an online piece for Daisy Green Magazine I had some challenges trying to fit the audio with the photos. I didn’t have photos to fit all of the exact experiences I was describing, such as of the delicious food.

In a written piece it’s not necessary to have a picture for everything described as only a couple make it into the piece. I felt that  some images which I did not have, like pictures of the food I was eating, would really have helped to enhance the audio. Taking the right photos would be something I will definitely consider in the future for future audio slideshows.

I’m not sure how well the piece comes off as a piece of travel journalism/review so let me know what you think. Any comments, hints, tips or general feedback much appreciated.

I recorded the audio on my Olympus VN-7800 PC dictaphone and used Windows Movie Maker Live to slot the audio and pictures together which was surprisingly easy to use.

By Ianthe Butt

©For all photos Ianthe Butt/used with permission from Feynan Eco Lodge/Jordanian Tourism Board


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How to make an audio slideshow using iPhone voice memo and iMovie

Phew. Ok I just made an audio slideshow – I think, I hope.

Let’s begin at the beginning. I took some audio footage of a salon catwalk show at London Fashion Week last week. It was the Craig Lawrence A/W 2011 show which took place in Somerset House’s Portico Rooms on Saturday 19th February (9-11am). This designer is known for his craftmanship with knitwear so they chose to forego music and instead have a member of Lawrence’s team describe the materials and techniques used in each piece. My images are from Craig Lawrence’s Designer Profile on the London Fashion Week website.

I recorded the footage with my iPhone 4 using Voice Memos which comes as standard and can be found in ‘Utilities’. I have cut down the audio to seven looks (Looks Two to Eight) to avoid it getting boring for anyone not in love with knitwear. One minor fault already is that I only decided to start recording after I realised their strategy – half way through Look One.

After browsing through some posts I saw that publications often use Final Cut Pro to produce audio slideshows. Since I don’t have this software, I used iMovie which is also recommended. I didn’t flail into the audio slideshow unknown blindly though – I used an instruction video on to guide me – How to make an Audio Slideshow on iMovie – what a way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

If you are really impatient – here are the most important bits:

1. Open up iMovie. Save your images into a folder or onto your desktop and drag them into the project box. Single click to drag images and re-order them. Hovering over the images acts as rewinding and fast-forwarding whereas pressing the space bar is ‘Play’.

2. Drag your audio into the project box. When dragging it in you can choose which frame to start the audio on, and slide it around. Your audio will only run to the total length of your photos so double click on each image to change the number of seconds it stays on screen.You will have to listen to your audio a few times and note down the place each time you want to switch images – bear in mind any transitions you might put in too when matching your images to the audio (see point 6)

3. The toolbar below the preview pane has some useful tricks. The microphone is to record live voiceovers as you watch the images. If you add voiceovers, any music audio that you have already added with helpfully fade out.I didn’t have to record a voiceover because my original audio was just that.

4. The crop tool is also essential – images are set to the Ken Burns effect which zooms in on the image. However as my images were all models – i.e. portrait shots – I chose to click on Crop then choose Fit in order for the whole image to be seen. This means I have black bars at either side of my images but this can’t be helped when you’re using portrait shots.

5. The ‘T’ is for titles. Choose the title type you want, drag it to (usually) before your first frame where it will ask you to choose a background. I went for Pixie Dust because I couldn’t resist with the Industrial background. To change your text, click on the blue bar above the title frame and then type in the preview pane on the right hand side. Pixie Dust was one of the titles with locked in fonts so I couldn’t change the font but sometimes you can.

6. The rectangle cut into triangles is the Transitions button. Click on this to view different transitions you can use between images. I chose Cube and Fade To Black at alternates because I felt some of the others were too flashy for my material. I double clicked on these transitions once I’d placed them and lengthened them for 0.4seconds to 1second each – this is subjective of course.

7. To get it onto WordPress when I’d finished. I clicked on Share in the iMovie toolbar and chose YouTube – here you just pop in your YouTube username and password and select the file size etc. Then I inserted the video as usual into WordPress by entering the YouTube URL. Easy.

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