Soundslides is unusual among computer programs â€” it is designed to be used by journalists although the makers say others uses may be found. It does just one job which is putting together still image and audio stories for the web.
Seeing increasing numbers of stories made with it on news sites, I decided to give it a try. The thought of making a Flash presentation has always filled me with fear but this describes itself as “ridiculously simple storytelling”. It is true (so far as using the software is concerned: the content is another matter).
During a walk on London’s Isle of Dogs with a camera yesterday a vague storyboard formed. Back at the flat iPhoto (easier than PhotoShop) was used to crop a couple of pictures, lighten a few and chuck many in the waste bin.
The voice over was written and recorded on a MiniDisc before tidying up in Sound Studio, an easy to use audio editor for Macs.
The folder of pictures and the AIFF audio file were then imported into Soundslides. The pictures were put into order in the light box and the length of time for each picture dragged on the time line to match (more or less) the audio.
A few experiments and then it was exported. Two sets of pictures and two audio MP3 audio files, for high and low bandwidth) and all the other files needed and put into a folder called publish_to_web. That is all there is too it.
The software requires no knowledge of the technology: there is no laborious sizing of pictures, no conversion of the audio file format and no worries about where the various bits should be saved. It leaves the user to concentrate on the journalism which for most print people will mean learning a new way of storytelling.
I have decided to post London’s countryside not because I think it is good (the idea was to learn the program), but to show that Soundslides is so easy to use anyone can make an audio-visual. My next attempt will be a lot better now that I have confidence in the technology.
Soundslides is $39.95 for both Mac and PC.