Resources for Soundslides

Download and install the free demo version of Soundslides Plus for Mac.

Instructions (PDF): How to upload a Soundslides to Dropbox

Instructions for beginners: Soundslides: A Brief Introduction

See examples of Soundslides stories.

Tips for type of story, audio timing, captions, etc.:


Soundslides stories are great with a combination of natural sound and interviews. For tips on multitrack editing with Audacity, download this PDF.



Audio and photo story

The point of this assignment is for you to combine still photos and audio to create an interesting story. A true story, of course.

An audio slideshow is really a lot different from video, and that’s why the requirement is to use stills. The pace is different — the gathering of the assets is different. You can show a lot of variety and evoke a lot of feelings with a slideshow, allowing the viewer to just experience the frozen moment in each image.

However, it’s very important not to leave any image hanging there too long. A rule of thumb is to allow no more than 5 seconds for any one photo. (See more slideshow storytelling tips.)

The readings for weeks 11 and 12 should give you plenty to think about in the story you choose and how you capture it. You’ll see some examples in class. Read more of this post

Looking for online journalism tutorials?

You may have accidentally come to this site when searching for Journalists’ Toolkit, a site that provide free tips and tutorials for journalists, journalism students and journalism educators. In many ways, this class blog was the inspiration for that website.

This blog was created for and used in a two-semester course for graduate students in Journalism at the University of Florida in 2007 and 2008.

At the Journalists’ Toolkit website, you’ll find handouts, downloads and other materials to help you learn about Web audio, video, photojournalism and design.

Some blogging assignments

In class on Thursday, Oct. 25, each student completed an in-class critique exercise. Each student was assigned to review the first Soundslides produced by another student in the class (they are linked on each student’s blog — that’s how they were “handed in”). Then the student posted a review in his or her own blog and linked to the exact Soundslides that received the critique.

There are TWO more parts to this blogging exercise:

(1) Using the list I gave you in class, figure out which student reviewed YOUR Soundslides. Open that student’s blog, read and think about the critique, and POST A COMMENT right there on the critique post. Don’t answer defensively (“I did it that way because …”), but rather, try to expand on what the person said about your Soundslides. Respond to their remarks.

(2) Choose any OTHER student’s critique and read it. Then watch the Soundslides he or she critiqued. (Not your own, of course!) POST A COMMENT on the critique post saying whether you agree or disagree — and WHY. Try to add something useful for the author of the Soundslides that was critiqued.

The motive behind these assignments is to get you to think about the people in the audience. If you just make a story to get a grade, it’s not going to move people. Your classmates are real people — they are members of a real audience. If you can reach them with your stories, you will be on the way to becoming a good storyteller!

Also in class on Thursday:

We viewed the excellent Soundslides “After the Riots” and discussed the four-part Ira Glass lecture about how to become a good storyteller. These are all linked on the Week 10 page of the online syllabus.

If you did not watch every second of the four Ira Glass videos, DO IT NOW!!! They are too good to miss!

Extra goodness:

Angela Grant has a very good post on her blog, News Videographer, about learning how to do voiceovers (narration). Even though she is talking about video and not Soundslides, the same rules apply!

Class on Sept. 27

I showed a PowerPoint related to the assigned readings. The PowerPoint also contained links to extra stuff, including a guide to ethics for editing audio. You can copy the PowerPoint from the “Handouts” folder on the network drive.

We talked about interview tips; use of microphones (including the wireless lavaliers and shotgun mics), boom poles and table mic stands; the Nat SOT in the koala story; how broadcast journalists write their scripts.

I showed a Soundslides about an indoor archery class. It demonstrates a nice use of a “sound bed.” This example is similar to what you should be able to get for your Soundslides 1 assignment.

We also talked about picking the most interesting character. Who is the most interesting person in the archery photos?

Then you learned some techniques for multitrack editing in Audacity. The second Audacity handout can be found here. Note: The “Split” command is on the Edit menu in Audacity. The “Duplicate” command is explained in the handout, but sometimes, you will want to use “Split” instead.

The two WAV files for the in-class editing assignment are linked on this page. I recommend that you also listen to the five MP3 files linked there. Each one is about one minute in length. I think you will understand a little more about “sound beds” if you listen to these. Like the guitar player, these sounds were recorded by me while I was in Mexico in the summer of 2006. You’ll hear differing quality even though I used the same recorder and mic for all the files.

You can really hear a big difference between the street band MP3 and the church singing MP3. Why? Think about where I was standing or sitting. Think about the space. I was walking in the street right beside the band, with brass horns! Ouch!

Are you too close? Are you too far away? Use your headphones!

Tips for your photo assignment

First, READ the Photo 1 assignment carefully.

Second, read the Soundslides 1 assignment.

Think about the fact that these photos are intended for inclusion in your Soundslides. The audio on that slideshow will be one person, who will be interviewed by you. There will be NO narration.

There won’t be a lot of variety in your photos if all are shot at one location. Don’t your people go anywhere else? Remember the Soundslides about the Vietnam vet with PSD? Great interview. Boring pictures — because they were all from inside his apartment!

Review the slideshows about the rodeo lessons and the human cannonball couple. Remember why you liked these? Why were they interesting? What makes one better than the other?

Cropping and toning — if a photo does not need it, don’t do it. Most photos will look better if the levels are adjusted — a little bit.

All photos MUST be resized to fit within the dimensions specified in the assignment.

Don’t forget the detail shots — the super-close ones! Hands, mouth, eyes — feet if they are part of the story.

Captions — NOT YET.

But DON’T FORGET to get the full names and contact info (cell, e-mail, IM) for people in your photos!

Audio — you can gather it this week, or wait until next week.

Questions? I have office hours Tuesday from 1 until 5 p.m. And there’s always e-mail!

And … BLOG POSTS: Several of you are doing great! Keep up with your posts!

Today’s class (Sept. 20)

What we did today:

First, we discussed the Soundslides 1 assignment. Even though the due date is far in the future (Week 10), you have to know what your story is NOW — because your Photo 1 assignment is to shoot the very same photos you will be using in that first Soundslides.

  • Week 5 (today)
  • Week 6: Photo 1 due
  • Week 7: Nothing due (work on photo reshoots and/or audio)
  • Week 8: Blogging 2 due
  • Week 9: Nothing due (work on photo captions and/or audio)
  • Week 10: Soundslides 1 due

As I cautioned in class, it is up to you to budget your time and gather your AUDIO, as well as your photos, for Soundslides 1.

Signing Out the Audio Gear

You might be wondering how to get the audio gear so you can gather your audio. (Hmm … no one asked that in class.) Well, you will be signing out the audio equipment from one of our grad students, Gary Ritzenthaler.

The way to do it: Go to the IML (Interactive Media Lab, 3219 Weimer) during Gary’s OFFICE HOURS (see chart on this page) and sign out the equipment. Gary will handle everything. Pay attention to the return time — everybody has to share the equipment! Do not keep it out late!

DO NOT go to the IML at times other than Gary’s office hours. No one else in the IML is authorized to help you or give you the gear. There are classes held in that lab. If you waltz in at another time, you might be interrupting a professor’s class!

If you have your own recorder, Gary can sign out a microphone and cable to you (without a recorder). MAKE SURE you always use a proper external mic — and WEAR YOUR HEADPHONES.

Kobré Text

We discussed the assigned readings, especially the ethics chapter. I emphasized these points:

  1. NEVER ask anyone to do anything (except for a portrait)
  2. We are NOT doing any portraits, ever, in this class
  3. Using a model: NEVER (except in a photo illustration)
  4. We are NOT doing any photo illustrations, ever, in this class
  5. NEVER move anything, e.g., the Coke bottle

Eisa and Shifen noted that the standards discussed in the Kobré text are not practiced in many other countries. This is very true! Of course, since we are here, we will follow U.S. professional standards for photojournalism.

I also emphasized:

  1. Cropping a photo is okay.
  2. Erasing is not okay.
  3. Dodging and burning is questionable.
  4. Never erase anything.
  5. Never add anything.

We discussed “readers’ favorites” vs. what photo editors consider the “best” photos (MSNBC: Year in Pictures, 2005).

As for the photo editing chapter: You should read and re-read the first part about how photo editors judge and select pictures. These later sections are important for your continued reference:

  • Cropping (pp. 209–11)
  • Sizing (pp. 211–16): Make sure you have read this!!
  • Captions (pp. 220–223): You will need this for your Soundslides!!

The slideshow I showed you to illustrate “the rule of thirds” and other principles of photo composition is in the “Handouts” folder on the L: drive. You can access the L: drive from any computer lab in Weimer (log in with your usual mmc6936a login). You may copy the PowerPoint, but for your own use only. Do not e-mail it or post it online.

Photo Editing in Photoshop

Students practiced being a photo editor by selecting the best three photos from another student’s take from last week. After selecting the three, they then had to edit them for the Web. In Photoshop:

  1. Crop the photo (if necessary)
  2. Adjust the levels (Image menu — Adjustments — Levels) as necessary; don’t overdo it
  3. Change the RESOLUTION to 72 ppi (see the handout); this is for the Web — it would be different if we were printing or publishing in print
  4. Change the width OR height — in PIXELS (also in the handout)
  5. Save for Web (explained in the handout)

Note that it is always important, when preparing photos for the Web, to know the maximum width and the maximum height that are required. Your Photo 1 assignment specifies a maximum width and height. Make sure you use them!

Note: It is not necessary that a photo have the maximum in both dimensions. ONE dimension (either width OR height) will be LESS THAN the maximum for that dimension, while the other will be equal to the maximum.