New Media Skills: How To Create Audio Slideshows


The blood continues to flow among print journalists this week, but that just makes our opportunities to build skill sets even more important. We can react to the change in our medium by throwing our hands up in the air or we can act by setting ourselves up for the next wave of media opportunities. In my next few posts, I’m going to overview a handful of new media skill sets that may seem beyond reach, but are actually a lot easier to learn and master than you may think. One of my personal favorites, and a useful one for reporters and photographers alike is the audio slideshow.

How to Create Audio Slideshows:

It is no secret that photojournalists are becoming more valuable if they can produce audio along with their photography. Some of the nation’s largest papers are featuring stunning slideshows, intertwining eye-catching photography with NPR quality audio and usually accompanying it with a print-based article.

But how do they do it? The answer is more simple than you think.

Have a computer? Digital camera? Audio recorder? Perfect — now you just need $70 and you’re in business.

When creating slideshows the typical workflow is:

1) Capture photography and audio

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2) Download media to your computer

3) Edit audio track

4) Import audio track into a photo-editing program and edit the slideshow

5) Export the slideshow and post it on the web.

The two following programs provide easy-to-use functionality, while keeping costs to a minimum.

Audio Editing:
First download Audacity and import your raw audio tracks into the program. Once the tracks are imported you can instantly begin refining, tweaking, and merging tracks together. Once the track is complete, simply export the track to your computer. The program is free, compatible for both Mac and PC, and works with .wav and .mp3 files, though a special plugin (downloadable from the site) may be necessary.

Photo Editing:
Spend $69.99 and download Soundslides — a powerful, yet easy-to-use editing program created by a multimedia pioneer. After importing the audio track form Audacity, import your photos and start switching around the sequence, adding titles, customizing player settings, and even adding basic motion to the photographs. Exporting can be done either as a .mov video file (Mac only at the moment) or a .swf flash file (both Mac and PC) which is ready to be uploaded directly a website. (Uploading can be tricky if you’re not a web guru so make sure to check out Soundslides upload tips)

Need some examples? Check out MediaStorm.com, the New York Times Multimedia page, and Poynter Institute’s powerful blog post: Creating Multimedia: A Novice Shows The Way.

Next week I’ll talk about video editing and how you can get started for under a few hundred bucks. And of course if you have experiences, tricks, or comments please feel free to add them below.