How To – Audio Slideshow

Few weeks ago me and my editor came up with the idea of writing a practical guide on audio slideshows. It’ll take a while to plan and eventually publish it, but I thought to pen something about it in the meantime, since multimedia production is occupying most of my time and attention at the moment.

Also, there are myths to dispel about the audio slideshow format. Before starting to work with audio slideshows in a professional way, I believed they were just a poor alternative to the video, easier and cheaper to produce.

To me it was more a thing that a geeky teenager would make as a dedication to his sweetheart. Something like that:

Nah. That’s not the case.

It’s not easy to make a good audio slideshow. You need to be familiar with at least two softwares, for audio and video editing. I use Premiere Pro for the video part and Adobe Audition to assemble the audio track. If you take your own pictures, which I try to do as much as possible to have better visuals (and avoid copyright annoyance), you’ll need to edit the RAW format with Lightroom.

While a film requires very basic skills in terms of audio, for an audio slideshow you want to produce a piece that is suitable for radio and therefore of very good quality. It also needs to be smartly combined with the visuals and that’s a matter of taste and practical skills.

Sometimes you may think it’d be cool to have a particular effect, but you just don’t know how to do. And if you are under pressure you really don’t have the time to crawl the internet for tutorials.

There are a couple of effects that are specific for audio slideshow production and are almost useless in video editing. So, some videomakers may struggle because they simply haven’t been taught how to use them.

Once you know where to find the commands, the interface of Premiere Pro is pretty intuitive. Below you can see the effects control panel (click to enlarge). By manipulating “position” and “scale”, after having selected a clip, you can move a still image and zoom it in and out.

In the effects panel the red line marks the time on the track,  while the bullet points mark the beginning and the endpoint of the change in position and scale (zoom).

(My interface is in Italian but the layout is the same of the English version)

premierepro interfaceYou can use the same panel and commands to change colors, luminosity, contrast and saturation of a clip.

I used this trick for an  audioslideshow that I was asked to edit (in particular, at 1’18” to 1’28”). Some of the original pictures weren’t great so I tried to make them more lively with just a touch of color manipulation.


But let’s start from the beginning. Here’s the first audioslideshow I’ve ever made. I still maintain it isn’t completely bad, the pictures are nice and the audio track is interesting. However, I didn’t use any effect to make it flow better and the audio is just a chunk of footage which I didn’t edit.

Here is one of my latest creatures. I cross faded all the pictures and used some zooming and panning. This is a tricky bit, as it’s difficult to build a perfectly paced piece without being boring or cheesy. For example, pictures need to  slow down when to create an emotional effect, while you’ll make them flow a bit faster to compensate a boring and flat voice.

Once you have a good grasp of the basics, you can adapt the audio slideshow’s design depending on the materials you have . For example, while interviewing a group of researchers for the story you can watch below, I discovered that they had some very pretty video footage. I seized the opportunity and tried a mixed format.

Hope this is useful. Should you have any question [or remarks :’) ], feel free to drop me a line below!

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