used with permission of Chick-fil-A
Storytellers need to concentrate on the story, rather than the application is how SoundSlides promotes their software. I cannot agree more.
I have written about how you are probably better off with a simple point and shoot unless you want to take the time to learn how to use a DSLR. I also have written that it is easier to shoot in JPEG format rather than RAW.
You will hear almost no one in the industry disagree about the simple concept of KISS. KISS is the acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid.
What I have found over and over is that you can do a great deal as a storyteller by using the most simplistic tools.
Before you can learn to walk you must crawl. Before you learn to run you must walk. We have all heard this and understand why this is true based on our own experiences.
There is no question that when you pull out all the stops for storytelling you can create some awesome packages. The top end of this production is what we see in Hollywood. To achieve what they do in Hollywood is a team of experts. Just stay till the very end of the movie and you will see the hundreds if not thousands of people involved in the production of the movie. Each and every name is a person who is at the top of their field doing a very specific role.
I recommend the first place to start with multimedia storytelling for the photojournalist is using the software SoundSlides.
You are able to blend audio with photos into a package that can be played on a computer. It can be loaded to a website, blog and played on any device including the iPad, iPhone and iTouch. I mention the Apple products because they are the ones that cannot see all that is on the web–especially Flash produced content.
Be sure and click in the lower right hand corner for a full screen version–I think it looks better than many videos I have seen online.
I wrote earlier blog post about how I collect the photos and the sound. Here is a link to that post.
Here are the basic steps to use SoundSlides that I use.
- If you want create a title image and and ending image. SoundSlides Plus can create lower third subtitles, but this is limited to text. If you want to place a graphic on the image I recommend either using PhotoShop or Powerpoint to create those title slides. I use PhotoShop so I can just have text on a couple images rather than all of them and in addition I can add a graphic.
- PowerPoint–create your title slide. It can be text only or use your photo as the background. The way you get this into the show is to save it as a JPEG. Go to File>Save as and then choose your folder where your other images are, name it and select JPEG (See Figure 1) and then select options where another window comes up. I would make the dimensions the same as all your other images.
- PhotoShop–I like to select an image and then put text and maybe a graphic over the image. Be sure to flatten the image and save as JPEG.
- Create a folder of the images you want to use in your slide show. I always have just a few more than I plan to use, but not too many or you spend way too much time deleting in SoundSlides.
- You can do a slide show with no sound, but if you want sound create a sound file. I use Royalty Free music for many slide shows where I just want people to get the sights and sounds of an event. If I want to use talking, I record those clips and edit them using Audacity. The key for SoundSlides is that your Audio is totally edited and saved as an MP3 file.
- Open SoundSlides and create a new project. I put all my SoundSlide shows into one folder. It creates a folder for the project you create. You can create custom size show at this time or pick one or all the options. Having multiple options will let you customize the size for the device. So you could have the website auto detect if on mobile device and choose the smaller size and larger for desktop for example.
- Import images and sound files.
- Arrange Images (Figure 2)–I get the photos in sequence and most of the time I just space them equally with the sound. Go to Tools>Spread Images Equally. If you want to adjust the images time drag the image longer or shorter on the timeline. Then you can adjust the images after your change in the time line using Tools> Spread Remaining Images Equally. Then I move to the next image drag for time and repeat until I am done.
- Template Settings I then select a template that I like and check the appropriate things I want to show or not. I prefer to always use the settings you see here in Figure 3.
- Template Shell I always pick the html5_compatible. It is the same as the default setting SoundSlide player, except it also uses an HTML5 version as the fallback when displayed on Apple iPad or iPhone. See Figure 4.
- Project Information. I choose this so I can always have the name the show above the show and credits can be shown if clicked on.
- Just a side note. You can change the colors of the templates within SoundSlides by just clicking on the box and different parts where color picker will pop up. You can then put in the color number or just pick a color. See Figure 5
- Save work and then Export. This will create a folder called Publish_to_web. (Figure 6) You can rename the folder if you like, but the whole folder is put on your website and the link to make it work will look like this http://NameofWebsite/publish_to_web/index.html or just http://NameofWebsite/publish_to_web.
There are three examples here for you. The first slide show is of the Chick-fil-A Bowl this past New Year’s Eve. We have found through the years many people enjoy just seeing what all Chick-fil-A did that day and it doesn’t need a voice over since it runs typically with a written story. For music we are using the fight songs from both of the schools playing in the Bowl.
The second slide show is of Nelson, my stepson’s graduation from the Citadel. Again, I went with royalty free music to just give some sound and create a mood for the photos.
The third show is a mixture of royalty free music and me talking. This gives you another option.
As you know I use other software to combine video, still images and audio into packages. This post production process takes 3 to 10 times longer to create a package as it does to do in SoundSlides.
Just because the more advanced software is something I know how to use and enjoy doing doesn’t mean it replaces SoundSlides. There are many times that this is the best way to tell the story.
My suggestion for the visual storyteller who wants to start telling stories that combine images and sound that using SoundSlides as the application for storytelling will help you to concentrate on the story. Is using SoundSlides a no brainer–NO. Every piece of equipment and software you add to your arsenal will take time to master. But the time to master SoundSlides is a fraction of the time it will take you to master Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro for example.
Once you master SoundSlides the concepts and skills easily transfer to Adobe Premier and Final Cut, you will just have more tools to master and use.