Audio slideshow: what’s the point?


By Laura E Cox

It seems like a no brainer. Why would you bother with audio slide shows when technology allows us to create videos?

Benjamin Chesterton answered that question at a BBC college of journalism event during the digital storytelling 2010 week.

Chesterton is part of DuckRabbit production team, who uses still photographic images as their most important tool in creating documentaries.

He said: “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.”

Audio slide shows go beyond storytelling. They don’t tell the viewer what to think.

Instead, the viewer/listener brings their own narrative to the slide show, making it more engaging and personal.

The most exciting thing? According to Kevin Marsh, Executive Editor of the BBC College of Journalism, it is that “We will all see and hear something in the shows that no-one else will”.

Audio slide shows can juxtapose text, image and music to bring a whole new and powerful dimension that cannot exist in video.

My research has come across two main categories of audio slide shows: those that work in a similar way to a documentary, with spoken word and image; and those that use music to increase poignancy.

The BBC’s contributions to the genre tend to fall into the former group, the latter group is common among amateur journalists and feature heavily on YouTube.

Content is often on the subject of war, tragedy, tribute or hardship: topics which lend themselves to this emotive medium.

Have a look at these two audio slide shows (pictured above) about child soldiers in Sri Lanka. The first was published on the BBC in April, the second is by DuckRabbit. Which do you think is more powerful?

If you’re thinking of making your own slideshow, have a look at mastering multimedia



About Laura

Small fish in a big pond, trying to accept life on life's terms 'You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore' - Christopher Columbus
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