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McAdams Case Study Response - Part 3

Star Tribune Slideshow Tool

Time is of the essence! How many times have I heard that statement? The answer is too many to count. Furthermore it seems as if I will never stop hearing it as long as I am a journalist. Deadlines are key in this line of work and there is no exception to this rule when it comes to flash journalism. The interview subjects of the case study which I read were plagued by the issue of time and immediately they saw the solution in the creation of a flash template. Dave Braunger, the designer/artist interviewed felt there was a better way to deal with this problem.

Until late 2003, the producers at the startribune.com were building slideshows using RealSlideShow. There were two major problems with using this type of software. Number one is that the shows created were branded with the RealPlayer logo, which the producers didn't care for too much. Number two is that while the audio was great, the photo quality was mediocre at best. There was a need for the startribune.com producers to make a change if they wanted to present their audio and visual content in the best way possible.

One slideshow that Braunger created with Macromedia Flash Player 7 was about Getting to Lindbergh on the LRT. It was interesting to read that after the producers switched over to using flash for their slideshows, their photographers became highly enthusiastic about getting audio to go along with their photos, which was an added bonus for the producers. One photographer in particular that did this was Jerry Holt. Regina McCombs, the multimedia producer for the startribune.com stressed that sometimes you can go back and get audio smaples if necessary, but other times it can be too late to go back.

After reading this case study I gathered that some important things to include in online slideshows are: large photos; a clean loading experience for users; good sound quality; time coordinated audio files; captions; production and photographer credits. I was glad to see that McCombs brought up the point about being able to read or listen to the content of a slideshow. This option would in fact make the content more easily accessible to the def, or those who couldn't read. This statement made me realize how important it really is to consider the audience when creating a slideshow.

Transitions are another thing to take into consideration when making a slideshow. Many of us are familiar with them from software programs like Microsoft Powerpoint or MovieShaker. Honestly I kind of thought they were tacky and as the case study put it "overly flashy". McCombs said, "If the photograph is strong enough, it doesn't need fancy transitions" and this leads me to believe that one should be selective about when to include transitions and when to simply leave the show alone.

Putting sound and pictures together was covered in the latter part of the case study. Before adding sound to a slideshow it is important to look at the pictures carefully. It is a back and forth process between looking and listening when you are trying to set up a slideshow with audio capabilities. Audio clips can start out being as long as 6 minutes and be cut down to no more than 20 seconds depending on their usability.

This case study was very valuable to me because I can see myself doing this kind of work as a permanent vocation in the future. Though it is going to take me a while to get used to the flash software, I can see it being a very useful part of my life. Until reading this case study I didn't realize how popular and widely used flash journalism is becoming.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 11, 2006 7:53 PM.

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