Teaching Examples


Aussie daily rocks with slideshows
June 26, 2007, 1:17 pm
Filed under: news, newspapers, photojournalism, slideshows

Andrew Meares, chief photographer at The Sydney Morning Herald, reports that slideshows have become very popular with online site visitors — more so than video.

Total Soundslides pageviews to date are 1,214,918 (since October 2006). Our video team pop the champagne with 5000+ views, our top text stories of the week rate 80,000+.

The biggest hitters:

Pasha Bulker (129,646): Photos of the huge bulk ship aground on a Newcastle city beach (June 2007) — includes photos sent in by readers.

Golden Globes fashion (108,720) SMH fashion writer picks apart what beautiful celebrities wore to the Golden Globes. Well done — I can imagine that lots of people e-mailed this link to friends.

Danish baby princess (70,168): Handout photos from the Danish palace of the new baby princess (“Australian mum,” Meares noted). This is really interesting (I mean, the fact that it was so popular) — there’s no audio, just baby pics — and of course, a nice shot of Mum.

Hunter floods (54,063): Flooding in the Hunter region, narrated by a reporter on the ground.

* Adaminaby (46,428): Drought causes Adaminaby’s old town ruins to emerge from Lake Jindabyne. This one is a very good piece of visual news reporting.

“We have also sent Soundslides via sat phone from the middle of the ocean during a yacht race, and we are doing weekly shows with our foreign correspondents like this one,” Meares wrote in e-mail. The latter, from Lebanon, combines photos from various wire services with the voice of the Australian reporter in-country.

Thanks, Andrew! I really appreciated the chance to see how a photo department embraced multimedia in such a short time span.

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New — Soundslides Plus
June 15, 2007, 1:32 pm
Filed under: audio, journalism, photojournalism, slideshows, tools

The fabulously popular Soundslides program is now available in two flavors: regular and Plus.

The regular product is still $40. The Plus version is $70. Both flavors are available in Windows and Mac versions.

Plus provides a bunch of extra visual features that photographers have been clamoring for, but which beginners probably do not need. If you’re an educator buying Soundslides for 100 workstations, for example, you might be okay with the regular version. (Make sure you contact Joe for education pricing if you’re buying that many licenses!)

If this is all new to you, here are some great examples of what the regular old Soundslides can do (my current favorites):

  • Guitar Lessons at the Central Area Senior Center: An 81-year-old Seattle woman loves taking guitar lessons. No narration, nice story, several interviews skillfully edited together.
  • Cockfighting in Puerto Rico: Awesome photos, wonderful audio that puts you at the scene.
  • Nutcracker: A fresh photojournalism grad tells us the story of a production of the Nutcracker ballet. She produced this while on an internship at The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun. Notice the variety in shots, scenes, lenses, etc. Notice too the excellent editing of the pictures to match the content of the audio.
  • After the Riots: A Soundslides about the housing projects in Paris, by the British newspaper The Guardian. Exceptional storytelling and great use of sound.

Some people will tell you that Soundslides are boring. I offer these four examples to prove that it’s all in the storytelling.

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It’s here! Soundslides Plus
May 24, 2007, 6:13 pm
Filed under: audio, photojournalism, slideshows, tools

Joe Weiss posted this about two hours ago:

It’s not just an update, it’s an entirely new version of Soundslides — the long planned pro version. New features include image movement (pan & zoom), built-in lowerthirds, thumbnail menus and the ability to create traditional (non-audio) slide shows.

Even though it will cost more than plain Soundslides, that’s okay, because the plain version “will continue to exist,” Joe wrote.

There’s a new 1.6 update on the way for the plain version. It will include individual transition control. W00t!

This announcement is a wee bit premature because you can’t actually get it yet … but almost, says Joe.

Update (May 25): Download here! This link is good only until sometime in mid-June.

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Storytelling about soldiers, and audio interviews
May 7, 2007, 4:13 am
Filed under: audio, journalism, multimedia, online, slideshows

Thinking about doing more audio slideshows in your newsroom? There’s lots to discuss in this new package from MSNBC.com — Scars from Iraq (also titled “The War After the War”).

First, there are three different stories about three soldiers who have returned from duty in Iraq. Which story is most interesting to you, and why?

Second, there’s the quality of the audio. Technically, all are very good. But more than that, you should think about how a reporter gets this sustained audio from an interview subject. What kinds of questions were asked? Do you know how to get someone to talk at length? Do you know how to listen? Do you know how to send visual cues so that you never need to say “Uh huh” to encourage the speaker? Do you know how to edit this kind of interview? Would these stories be better with nat sound?

Finally, the presentation. Does anyone feel like clicking those labeled buttons on the left? If not, then why are they there at all? Do you want a timer so you know how long each story is? Are you content to sit back and let all three stories run on autoplay? Are the stories too long? Is the package too long?

I’ve seen a lot of stories about soldiers who have come home. There will be more. I think we should think about how we tell these stories, and why people want to hear them. Why are these three stories different from others you have seen and heard? And if you’re going to report one of these stories, what can you learn from the ones that have been told before?

(Thanks to Joe and Zach for sharing their bookmarks on del.icio.us.)

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NPPA – BOP winners: Audio slideshows, News category
March 24, 2007, 10:34 pm
Filed under: audio, online, photojournalism, slideshows

I found the winners from the big sites disappointing.

News, large affiliated sites

On the Border, ‘There’s Always a Hole’ (washingtonpost.com)
I don’t like the distracting wind noise in the audio. I was impressed by a desert photo and the last two pictures, which made me think about an aspect of this familiar story (illegal crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border) in a new way.

Deportation Flights Ferry Immigrants Home (washingtonpost.com)
I felt like part of the story was missing here. I guess I’m not sure what all these men have done to be deported.

These two winners from WaPo play in a template designed by the talented Nelson Hsu (who also designed Being a Black Man), rather than the popular Soundslides template. The Hsu design works well and fits nicely on my 1024 x 768 screen. It’s got integrated advertising, which I’m sure is necessary.

The Reach of War, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines in Iraq (The New York Times)
This story is just too long. Everything about it is too long.

News, smaller affiliated sites

Land of Opportunity / Dashed Dreams (Roanoke.com)
Wow! This audio transported me to a village in Mexico! The photos captivated me in every way, and the nat sound was so well recorded and so well edited, I did not mind for even one second that there was a voiceover. But what is going on with the credits in this Soundslides? Photojournalist Josh Meltzer has a credit, but for the narration, audio and production, nothing. I also want to see editors start including a date on every slideshow. Why do so many people leave out the date and the proper credits?

Free at Last (The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
Fantastic on-the-scene photo and audio work — this is a hat trick, and Will Yurman wins a deep, deep bow from me. I found the last third of the slideshow to be redundant within itself, but up until then, the mastery on display made me gasp.

Land of Opportunity / English School (Roanoke.com)
Another one from Josh Meltzer, full of adorable little kids. No narration. Too long.

(HM) My War (The Palm Beach Post)
Impressive intro on this three-part purpose-built package (what are now called “chaptered Soundslides”). On the splash page that follows, though, I ought to get more than three tiny-face mug shots and the names of the men in them. I need some kind of teaser, some lure, to make me want to click and go inside. When I roll over and get nothing, I feel like there’s not going to be anything special. I don’t know which one to choose — so I choose none. A missed opportunity.

The interactive “call to action”

If there’s only one thing I can do on the screen (e.g., “Press to Play”), then this is no big deal. But if you give me three things, you’ve got to differentiate them for me. Why would I click one soldier instead of the other two? Give me a reason. I’m sure their three stories are different. Tell me HOW they differ. Then I’ll know which one to click first. If I like it, maybe I’ll click another.

See more winners.

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Time-lapse slideshow: USA Today
March 22, 2007, 1:27 am
Filed under: graphics, multimedia, online, slideshows

We continually discover new things about storytelling in this medium. A post at the USA Today Interactivity blog takes us into the mind of the photo editors who received 469 photos from a photographer on assignment in New Orleans.

There was some discussion about whether we should turn all 469 photos into a video, or select a handful for a photo slideshow. We decided to go with the slideshow for three reasons: we could show the photos larger and more clearly than we could the video, the slideshow would be more interactive than video, and by limiting the number of photos, we could tell a more compelling and interesting story.

I like those reasons; they make sense. But I’m not so wild about the slideshow. Here’s why:

  • It’s kind of a small, nondescript house. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if the house had at least two stories? As there’s demolition all over New Orleans, it seems possible that there were other houses.
  • I don’t mind dragging a slider, but I would have liked to see the slideshow also offer autoplay forward — and backward.
  • I like the idea of showing the demolition — it’s relevant to the story — but in the end I have to ask what I got out of watching that. Did I learn anything? Understand something new?

I do really like the design of the full package. It’s understated, clear and classy. The interaction of the bar graph and the map is perfect.

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How to win multimedia contests
March 20, 2007, 1:42 pm
Filed under: journalism, multimedia, online, slideshows

So Richard made this little slideshow (in Quicktime) that is hilarious AND true. I have judged a few multimedia contests, and it is a grueling task — largely because people do all the things that Richard tells you NOT TO DO in this slideshow.

So watch, listen and LEARN. Maybe you’ll win something.

I am going to show this to all my students, forever.

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