Audio Slideshows: Part Two


I respect and admire the work of Benjamin Chesterson, Co-Founder of duckrabbit and he’s someone I turn to for virtual mentorship on occasion.

I posted previously about my revisiting the use of audio slideshows and came across this five year old posting from the duckrabbit blog entitled “In Praise Of The Audio Slideshow” and I reached out to Benjamin via twitter about whether the medium is just as valid today as it was five years ago.  He said in a nutshell of course it was – if done properly to reflect the story/subject matter.

On the duckrabbit blog, Chesterson provided his insights on the validity of the medium and I’m pulling some of those quotes to provide better insight into why pure video only is not an end all, be all medium.

“(The Audio Slideshow) it’s both a new language and a very old one – and it’s one that’s much better developed in the US and amongst non-broadcasters…”

This is pretty compelling comment when you take into account that producing audio slideshows entails less equipment compared to video and as such, lone wolf type shooters like myself can think less about the technical aspects of gear and devote our attention on telling the story.

When told by an interviewer that “The audio slideshow suffers from a default perception that it’s neither one thing nor the other; something less than video while tainting the purity of audio. One questioner at the conference put it succinctly: “Why would you choose a slideshow when you could use video?” Chesterson responded:

“…with moving video, the viewers eye is centered – 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.

Something similar is true of good audio. The best audio blends reportage (‘being me, being here’) with the kind of aural cues that make audiences think and wander off down their own pathways while still engaging with the sound.

Put the two together – great audio documentary and great still images – and you have something that is potentially MORE than great storytelling.”

For me, I believe that Benjamin so perfectly answers the question around the validity of the use of Audio Slideshows that it has become the focus of my work as a digital storyteller.  That for me is the essence, the blending of two powerful mediums that although seems trie and antiquated by themselves, when combined, provide a thinking persons medium for digital storytelling engagement.

I feel this closing statement on the blog really puts it into perspective for not only me, but for the potential audience looking for a more thought provoking experience in having a story told to them.

 “You, the viewer/listener bring your own narrative arc – or none at all – to the audio in the same way as, and at the same time as, your eyes roam the images. It is engaging and involving – and very, very personal. We will all see and hear something in the shows that no-one else will.

(That is) the antithesis of the story – and all the better for that.”

I’m not a fan of the term “Audio Slideshow” as I feel it doesn’t accurately describe the medium.  I feel a better description of this medium is “Photo Films” – and that is an area I will be exploring more deeply for both my client projects as well as personal projects.

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