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Topic: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

Here at The Roanoke Times we are working toward getting not only our photographers trained on how to do a soundslide but we are training editors and resporters too. I think it is very important that journalists start thinking interactively.

If there are going to be requests at the photo assignment desk for a soundslide from a word editor or reporter -- I certainly hope that the requesting editor understands this type of storytelling and the time that is needed to a quality soundslide.

Does anyone else have training tips, ideas or guides that could be passed onto others?

-seth

Seth M. Gitner
Multimedia Editor
The Roanoke Times/roanoke.com
http://multimedia.roanoke.com

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Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

Seth -

We do not have specific guidelines - but I usually tell the assigning editors to at least triple the amount of time they would normally allow for a 'regular' photo assignment if we are expecting to get any sort of multimedia out of it.

So - instead of an hour - give the entire morning - and that is not counting the editing time!

If/when you do draw up some formal guidelines - I would love to see it so we could 'borrow' it for use here as well. :-)

thanks

Damon

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Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

http://mediastorm.org/submissions/howto2.htm

This may be helpful for tips on gathering audio.

4 (edited by gearscout 2006-12-07 10:13:39)

Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

It would seem there are two main areas of developing technique for soundslide presentation on the web.

The first, of course, is the technical quality of the recording.  Here, a reporter/photographer gathers audio and the quality of that will ultimately impact the project.  This is affected by the equipment used.  The primary lessons have already been learned by TV and radio reporters.

Second, the delivery of the narrator.  Ultimately more difficult. 

The first area is really dictated by an understanding of the basics.  The Mediastorm article linked above hits a lot of this.  Be sure to read the part about selecting the right place for an interview, turning off radios, air conditioners and the like. 

   - A quality microphone (Electrovoice, Sennheiser, Rode, etc.)
   - If you handhold a microphone without sound-dampening features, you will get unacceptable noise (when handling it.)
   - Inside or outside, a windscreen on the microphone will dampen wind noise or prevent "popping" of P's etc.
   - A "Shotgun" microphone will isolate the sound better (it's unidirectional rather than omnidirectional.) 

Take a looke at the Rode NTG1 Shotgun and SM4 Shockmount.  Add a handgrip and "DeadCat" windscreen.  Sennheiser also makes great shotguns, both can be a bit pricey.

The second area is as much the personality and projection of the narrator as it is the script.  Over the years, I've worked with inexperienced people (even photographers producing these) and have a few tips.

    - Arrange the photos first, then script it.
    - A script is necessary to keep the storyline concise.  Use it to flow the story from photo to photo.
    - Inexperienced narrators can't read long, parenthetical, complex sentences well.  Don't write 'em!
    - It will sound much more natural if the narrator ad-libs off a bullet-pointed script.
    - Reading word-for-word has a deadly effect on the performance of most inexperienced narrators.
    - Have the narrator LOOK at the photos while they narrate the script.
    - If the photographer is delivering the script, let him/her tell a little bit about what is was that interested them,
      how they reacted when taking the pictures for the story.  That's the inside look that goes beyond the news and
      introduces a human element to the story. 

Sometimes, I've found that when writers or photographers have a hard time delivering a script, it's best to interview them.  They've already read the script, now take it away from them.  Ask them questions like "What did you see when you arrived?" or "What was your impression of this person in your photo?" or "This picture, what did it tell you when you took it?"

Hope that helps someone!

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Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

I would say to have your people spend some time really getting to understand how good radio stories are put together. It's the quality of the audio aspect that seems to be the hardest for photographers to get right in this kind of presentation. Photographers usually aren't good interviewers or writers so learning to form a good word based narritive takes them a lot of time. Still - don't feel that there has to be narration. Right now I am doing slideshows where the subjects voices tell the story alone. I can narrate, did voice acting for commercials for years, but I think that very often it's the subjects that do the best job of telling the story. If I'm, say, covering a war/riot then maybe some narration would be good but if I'm doing a profile piece I won't narrate.

Also, putting these things together well takes a lot of production time. Figure that when I did a business profile piece a while back I did: two hours of photography, a 45 minute interview afterwards and spent 6 hours putting it together for a 3 minute a/v show. I prefer to have a recorder going at all times when I am shooting just to get any ambient sound that I can use in the background so I also edited 2 hours of ambient audio to act as the bed of the final audio. I am currently taking two recorders into the field for just such events as when I need ambient audio but want to put a wireless mic on my main subject who is wandering about while I make photos.

Putting all these elements together isn't easy and your editors will think that it is. There is a steep learning curve but the end result is very exciting.

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Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

Two books, (well, one pamphlet and a book) that somehow connect up with 'what to do.'

Scott McCloud's 'Understanding Comics,' which is the single best work I know of, for explaining the connection between words and images.

Jessica Abel's "Radio: An Illustrated Guide." From the "This American Life" folks. How to do sound stories, illustrated.

Scott A.

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Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

scott,

I am going to purchase both of those, thanks.

you are the first person I have seen point someone to books outside teh "traditional multimedia realm"

-- many thanks -- and keeping thinking outside the box.

-seth

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Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

I'm thrilled to see someone mention McCloud's book.  Just substitute the word "Comic" with "Multimedia" ... it's amazing.

Chapter 4 (time frames) is worth the cost of the book.

For gathering audio, I think the Ganter's Sound in the Story is the best guide for helping the "silent" journalist get started quickly, though the Jessica Abel's TAL comic is more entertaining.

Also, speaking of TAL, did you see the trailer for their new show:
http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/tv/TE … 070216.mov

-joe

9 (edited by Scott Atkinson 2007-02-22 21:54:06)

Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

Thanks for the trailer. (And for Sound in the Story, which I had not seen.)

I figured there was no way to transmogrify TAL to tv, since television is so freaking literal and TAL relies so much on...umm...overtones.

But the trailer, at least, makes it look like they're beating the odds.

I'm glad someone else sees McCloud's book as applicable - a lot of my fellow journalistas have given me the 'this is nice but not quite serious' look when I suggest it's an essential for learning words and pictures.

s.

btw - I know literal firsthand, because I run a small tv station newsroom. That's why ss interests me - it's pictures and sounds, which is our stock in trade, but maybe not so literal, since still images work in a different way.

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Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

Yes I agree - great idea looking at Scott McCloud's book, which is quite sophisticated while retaining a comic book simplicity. I will probably look at it again, to remind myself....

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Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

Just read "Understanding Comics" and it is great!  I too recommend it highly.  I'm having trouble finding the other one, Jessica Abel's "Radio: An Illustrated Guide." From the "This American Life" folks. How to do sound stories, illustrated.

-dk

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Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

Abel's book is on Amazon now ...

http://www.amazon.com/Radio-Illustrated … 0967967104

-joe

13 (edited by arbeer.de 2007-07-03 01:01:30)

Re: Does anyone have guidelines on how to do a quality soundslide?

Here is an interesting article by Regina McCombs on the technique of audio slideshows:

"What Print Journalists Can Learn from Video Editors" http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=101&aid=125795