There are a number of necessary skills that are essential to learning the process of making slideshows with audio. Like most multimedia productions, we can organize these skills into a common workflow or process which can be organized into three phases: pre-production, production, and post-production. We will review these phases and point you to some excellent resources that can be of great assistance.
The process begins with pre-production. During this time, the media producer develops the concept or idea. It should be time to brainstorm the purpose of the project, its message or argument, the intended audience, and perhaps the structure. It's always a good idea to research other multimedia projects that may inspire or influence the work. This worksheet (Media Planning Worksheet) is a great way to get started with a slideshow project. This worksheet can also help educators create a focused project assignment in thinking about what is required of students. In the classroom, it's a good idea to get students to use this worksheet and come up with a paragraph explanation or synopsis of their project along with perhaps an understanding of what they will need to record and what they will need to acquire from the internet or outside sources. Once the planning and understanding of the project concept is established, pre-production also includes developing storyboards (Storyboard Template), shot lists, and even a list of URLs of media resources like images and/or sounds. All of this work should culminate into a script where the media producer knows exactly what will be seen (visual material) vs. what will be heard (sound). If there is a voice-over narration that accompanies the project, then this is the time to write what that voice-over narration will be and to match images to the various parts of the narration. Here's a script template to use during this process. And here's an example of how the script looks from one of our QUEST slideshow scripts.
Once the script is complete, that marks the end of pre-production. The script is the blueprint for the project, but it does not mean that it cannot change. The media producer should allow flexibility during the process as some ideas do not seem to make sense or feasible once production begins or some ideas give way to better ideas.
During production, the media producers record or find all the necessary media assets for the project -- images and sounds. Some images may be found online, some may be shot by the media producer either in the past or for this specific project. Likewise with sound, there may be sounds that will be found online or recorded. For example, most likely the media producer will record the narration. That means this process includes any combination of the following: downloading online images, taking pictures, scanning images, downloading online sound effects or music, and recording voice-over narration.
Here's a great worksheet (Media Log for Slideshows) to use while finding media online. It helps the media producer log the assets that may be used in the project. Most importantly, it references or cites where images and sounds where found so that the sources can be included in the end credits as a list of citations. This is very important if you are using material that is copyrighted.
This worksheet (Slideshow Resources) lists a bunch of good resources and tips before beginning a project. It includes links to various tutorials for video editing software or sound recording applications, as well as tips for how to take good quality photos.
It is best to prepare a project folder on your computer's desktop. Inside the folder the media producer should have two other folders - one for images and the other for sounds and music. Here's a great video educast that explains the process of doing this for a Mac and using iMovie.
Part of production includes working with iMovie to record your voice-over narration. Here's are two great video educasts that presents a basic overview of iMovie and how to create/record audio narration. (Note: this is a playlist that hosts 2 videos).
Production ends once all of your images and sounds are imported into GarageBand and iTunes, and you have recorded your voice-over narration.
Post-production is the process of crafting and sequencing your images and sounds in iMovie or your video editing program of choice. This does not mean that you can't redo your voice-over narration or go out and record or collect more images. It is quite common to back to production once in post-production. It involves developing a rough cut which is like a rough draft of your project --This version may look as such: the media producer has put the images in a sequence - maybe not all the images, maybe not timed to the right rhythm or pacing, maybe no effects or transition or music. Eventually, the media producer works to finesse this project by adding or subtracting the length of each image in the sequence; adding effects to the images; adding transitions; adding titles; adding music; mixing the sound levels. Finally, once the project is finished, it is ready to be exported and published.
Here are a series of videos that explain how to do all of these techniques in iMovie. (Note: this is a playlist that hosts 5 videos)