Friday, January 5, 2007

boring... boring.....!

Howard Owens and Michael Bazeley are bored with photographers using Soundslides to create still image with audio in Flash. Howard Owens writes that, 'Most of the time, when I watch a slideshow, I can’t help but think — for all the time put into this, why not just shoot video?' An interesting question, especially for newspapers.

Howard Owens and I do agree on a few things, particularly when he says, 'but it’s important to think about your audience and how best to spend your time in service of the audience.' Amen. Not only is important to think about your audience, but how to best tell the story.

We part ways when he writes, 'There is a depth of personality that just a voice and picture can’t capture./ There are some times I would agree with this statement. In a video interviews for news programs, other times a poignant sound clip with a great image tells the story even better than video. It is time, place and story dependent.

He continues, 'The danger of planning a static slideshow is that if any of these elements are sub par, you wind up with boring multimedia. Whereas, video, for the same subject, effort and talent (again, all things being equal) is more forgiving.' STOP. While video may be more forgiving, I think the audience is equally annoyed at average or bad storytelling. I would prefer to use the multimedia because I can 'zip' through the images. I watch bad video on our local TV news almost every night, and that is excruciating.

Howard Owens demonstrates some ignorance of the multimedia medium when he states that 'if a still photographer wants to bring his or her photos to life, fine — do the slideshow and add the audio, but make the pictures move. Use the iMovie “Ken Burns Effect” or learn how to simulate this in Movie Maker or your other video tool.' Aaaarrrggghhhh. The KBE, like any other tool in your tool kit can be overdone or become more annoying than just still images. If it is done for a reason, if there is a payoff, then the KBE can work; if not, I get nauseous just thinking about it.

Mr. Owens wraps up with 'Slideshows don’t need to be boring. Photographers need to learn to do them better, or start shooting video.' We agree, slideshows don’t have to be boring. Every day, as I see better and interesting video, I am slowly being converted to adding video to my storytelling arsenal. However, that being said, a really good audio slideshow, in my humble opinion, can do things better than average video.

I think we as 'animals,' Homo erectus, still think in still images, or still images are better processed by our brains. Think back to the major 'moments' of history, as you catalogue them, and they are almost all still images, except for perhaps the Zapruder film. I am sure that part of it is that video looks like ordinary life, it moves like we do, whereas a still image freezes time for us. Until we start thinking differently, I believe the power of the still image will remain.

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