GIVEAWAY + Review: SoundSlides Plus

This week we will be looking at what it takes to create a well done and communicative multimedia photo essay. I will be introducing you to some of tools it takes to create these effective presentations. We’ll also be taking a look at the type of photos you need in an essay to build the story up and keep the interest of the viewer.

As far as tools go, one of the most effective tools for integrating photos and sound into a slide show is an application called SoundSlides Plus. I have use it on almost all my slide shows. I also give demos of the software out to my workshop and most of the NGOs I coach. SoundSlides is a very intuitive, simple and effective tool for presenting your photo essay or simple slide show to the world. I’m excited to be able to give away a free copy of the full version of SoundSlides Plus to one of my lucky readers. I’ll tell you at the end of this post how you can have your chance to win a copy of SoundSlides Plus. But, before that, I want to give you a quick overview of the application.

When you open the application the first thing you see is a request for you to either open an existing project or create a new one (see fig 1). Let me create a new show just for this demonstration. We’ll title this demo “New Kumbh Mela” (fig 2). SoundSlides then creates a folder and some essential files that it will need to produce your slide show. Now you’re given the option to load your images and sound file (fig 3). Click on the JPG button  and navigate to where your images are held. SoundSlides works only with JPEGs. Once you load all your images is now time to load any audio file you want to use. Simply navigate to where your audio file is held and upload it (fig 4). As far as audio formats go SoundSlides works natively with MP3s.  After loading the JPEGs and audio files, the main window of SoundSlides opens. Here is where you will do all the editing of your shows timing and image placement as well as other things like captioning.

Believe it or not you’re about 80% done. Now all you need to do is drag and drop the thumbnails of your images into the positions you want them (fig 5).Once arranged like you want, there is a handy little option found under the tools menu that allows you to spread your images out equally (fig 6). If you don’t want your images playing all at the same rate, you can drag the edge of an image in the time line to lengthen or shorten the amount of time it shows (fig 7). At this point,  if you wanted to show your slide show you could. Basically it’s done. Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy.

Even though your slide show may be technically done, you probably want to tweak it a little more.  There are a few more ways to tidy it up and to make it look a little bit more professional. One option is to add captions to each image. If you have captioned your images prior to importing them there is a good chance that the information is in the metadata of the image file and if it is SoundSlides will read it. So extra work on captioning may not be needed. If you haven’t captioned your images before hand, it’s not a problem. SoundSlides gives you a window called “Slide Info” here you can add captions to each slide (fig 8).

SoundSlides provides users with some pretty basic slide show templates in a “Template” window (fig 9) or you can create a custom template (fig 10). The template is really just creates the HTML code for the player and web page for your show. In the template window you have options to tweak the color of the background, the text, whether to have captions showing by default, whether to show the scrub bar or not and many other options (fig 11).  The next window to be concerned about is called, “Project Info”. Here users are given space to write in the title of the show as well any credits and copyright information (fig 12). Then, the last window is the “Audio” window. This window simply give you the option reload or delete the audio that you have in the program (fig 13). This comes in handy when you realize your audio is too long or too short or you just didn’t feel like it was appropriate and you want to change it out for a different audio bed.

Up to this point you have only been able to see your show within the application’s main window. But wouldn’t you like to preview it on a big screen, the way others will see it? Now comes the fun part. Just hit the test button (fig 14) at the bottom of the page and watch SoundSlides create a web page featuring your slide show (fig 15).  If you like what you see and everything seems to be the way you want it, the next step is for you to publish it. To publish the show all you have to do is hit the export button (fig 16) and SoundSlides will export your slide show to a folder called “publish_to_web”. You will find this folder located within the project folder (fig 17). Rename publish_to_web to whatever you want it called in the URL (I called mine “kumbh_short”) and then just load it to your server and your done. Click this LINK to see the show I produced for this demo hosted on it’s on page. If you are familiar with the shows I  produce here for this blog you know I usually embed them into my blog posts. To do that, SoundSlides has provided a page to create a custom embed code for your work. You can visit that page HERE.

What if you don’t want an interactive show like we have created for this demo? What if you want a simple video of your slide show? Well, the good folks at SoundSlides have provided a link HERE for you to upload your show in a zip file. They will then convert it for you for free. You will be emailed a link where you can download a MP4 version of your show.

Like I said, pretty darn easy. Of course being so easy, there are some drawbacks to the application. Things that I hope will be improved in later versions. SoundSlides doesn’t handle subtitles very intuitively. It uses something called “lower thirds” and it is very clunky. If you have to make changes to the length of a slide in the middle of the show it can be completely devastating to any slide that falls after the one you’re adjusting. The time line gets completely messed up. The workaround on is to put the time line navigator bar (for lack of a better term) over the picture you’ve just increased or decreased the time of, then go up to the menu bar and choose the option under Tools, ” Spread remaining images equally”. This is not perfect but it helps.

I’ve been told by the folks at SoundSlides, that an upgrade is coming out soon and it will have the option for creating embed code right in the player. That will be really nice for sharing your work. I would love to know what other options and changes are coming out in the next version.

Okay time to explain the giveaway. You now know the basics of how to create a SoundSlides multimedia show. So now, I want to hear from you how you would use SoundSlides? I would like you to write in the comments section on this page a very short description of a project or story you might tell using SoundSlides. All entries must be posted by Thursday May 20th, at 12 am Penang, Malaysia time ( GMT +8). I will then announce the winner on Friday’s blog post. Tell your friends; Tweet this on the wibiya bar below and tell your FaceBook friends this competition is running. Let’s spread the word!

About Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer.

In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.

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38 thoughts on “GIVEAWAY + Review: SoundSlides Plus

  1. I've just completed a year of volunteering in Bangladesh, in the remote and little known area called the Chittagong Hill Tracts. I'm back in the UK now, and I'm realising how impossible it is to put my experience of living and working with the indigenous communities of Bangladesh into words, or at least into a way that people who have never experienced life in the under developed world can understand. The highs, the lows, the frustrations, the people I came to love, their challenges and just the unbelievable complexity of poverty and 'development'. I worked through an organisation called Voluntary Service Overseas (http://www.vso.org.uk/) and I'd like to create a multimedia show for VSO to use at their recruitment sessions to hopefully encourage others to take the massive leap of faith and also volunteer their time and skills with VSO. Nothing can 100% prepare you for the life of a volunteer, but perhaps something like this can help convince others to take on the challenge. Also, during my year out there I made the crazy decision to start my own photography career, of which this type of work for NGOs or humanitarian photography (or whatever we want to call it) will always play a role. I guess it gets into your blood, this kind of work.

  2. Hi Matt, thank you for yet another very comprehensive review!
    Since I came back from India, I say to myself that it would be interesting to mount a little story with pics and sounds I recorded over there… but still didn”t made it, I think I was waiting for motivation, this could be it 🙂
    Is it possible to integrate video, or do I have to do this in iMovie for example and for staying simple (not getting into Final Cut)? That could be a good upgrade…
    Anyway, thanks again for the review!

  3. Great review! I would like to finish a project I´m working on with a sounding slide show of a day at a veterinary hospital.

  4. Great review and great give away.

    For those of you with WordPress blogs, who already have Kimili flash plugin there is another option for embedding (particularly helpful for legacy files where no Publish_to_web folder was created).

    When you add a new Kimili fflash object to your post, you just add in the full url of your soundslider.swf file, and use this as the source (assuming that this is already on your server). I found you need to set the size a little bigger than the file to show the controls, so 800px by 600px for example but it works perfectly.

    Just another option

  5. Me me me!!

    Sorry, just kidding.

    A-hem. I'm a grownup, sometimes I forget that.

    I'm working on my little Sydney market project. And you know, I've been thinking about why I feel compelled to do this. Given the choice, the circumstances (and the money/opportunity) I'd rather be out there in a different part of the world, out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways, and documenting other cultures, and maybe making some sort of difference.

    But life is life is life. And I'm 'stuck' in Sydney (no hardship, trust me!), and it's been good for me. It's made me realise that this photographic, documentary urge is not dependent on exotic climes. And has also made me realise that stories can be told about anyone. Anywhere.

    And so…that's my entry. If I win, I'll use SoundSlides to tell a story about a craftsman or craftswoman or a group of market people. Those folks that help put together the lovely markets I enjoy so much, and who contribute a quirky, fun and bohemian element to the tired corporate-saturated West.

    I think it would be a pretty story, and just think…all those rarely-heard Aussie accents!

  6. If I say I would use it to show off my pictures of my trip to Kashmir/Ladakh with you next September…. would that make me a winner?? hummmm maybe not; but I also would use it for a project I am starting to work on about senior citizens in nursing homes in my town.
    Anyway, thanks for this giveaway!
    Maria

  7. I would like to use it for local projects I'm working on in order to build a portfolio to enter into humanitarian photography. One is about a local chapter of a Christian Motorcycle group and another is about feeding the hungry.

  8. i'd use soundslides to produce a show chronicling the past 12 months working with the students i serve in our community…reminding that a youth can impact the world.

  9. Love the Kumbh Mela slide show, its beautiful. I wish there was volume control on the player, I just hit play and blasted everyone in my office until I fumbled around for the system volume.

  10. I would love to do it of the sunrises I photography all the time with me saying how I feel in word and the emotion with music.
    Greg Hinze

  11. i would use SoundSlides to do a presentation for a public exhibition to create awareness of giving second chances to ex-offenders. A simple but powerful way to inspire community action to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of ex-offenders.

  12. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the tutorial! I want to say I'm also a big, big fan of your podcasts. A big THANK YOU to you!

    As for Soundslides, I have a project in mind that I will be shooting later this year to document the Doohi of Burkina Faso. Doohi is a form of Fulani music/song that includes repeated background chants/vocalizations and originates from a specific area of Burkina. It's traditionally performed at night by children and young adults around campfires in the bush, but with the relentless onset of modernity, it's sadly practiced less and less. There's very little existing documentation of doohi – I've only been able to find a single CD recording from 1997, which had just a few images as part of the jacket. This is why I believe it's so important to document this significant cultural heritage while it's still practiced as a regular form of community entertainment. I'm going to be spending 4 weeks in Burkina later this year and will pursue this project then. It's particularly interesting to me because I originally got my start as a Peace Corps Volunteer in neighboring Niger, where I spent 3 1/2 years living in Fulani villages. (I speak Fulfulde – the language of the Fulani people, who practice doohi – fluently. Plus, this project can also serve as a foundation for future projects on how Fulani musical forms have evolved after thousands of years of these nomadic pastoralists crisscrossing the Sahel and the Sahara – the Fulani living in different countries across West Africa have developed distinct forms of music specific to their geographic areas.

    Soundslides would be a great way to present this project! You can check out my Africa photography at http://www.ireneabdouphotography.com!

  13. In my “day job” I run an NGO that works on poverty and social policy issues and the state budget here in California. I want to do a slide show that brings the state budget and public policies issues home to people – combining what I do at work – public policy analysis – with what I do as a passion – photography – in a way that makes it real to people. Something beyond our powerpoint charts and graphs.

    Signed – a big fan – I've linked my photo website below. My work website is http://www.cbp.org.

  14. Great Kumbh Mela photos…but enough buttering you up!

    Matt, I’ve been asked by a friend in the Chicago Public School system to speak to one of the classrooms about photography. What’s great about this opportunity is I would be providing a very basic workshop for at risk children. The kids all have some form of severe learning disability, so my plan is to cover the very basics of a point/shoot camera and the “why we take photos” aspect. Often times children with learning disabilities are very creative, but these are inner city public school kids who don’t have the resources to be creative and experiment with different artistic mediums. My thought is to spend a few minutes discussing the basics of photography and then providing the kids with disposable cameras. The children would be able to use the cameras for an entire week in school, then I would pick up the cameras at the end of week. The game plan is to return the following week with the developed images to not only share and discuss the photos, but to provide positive feedback. The project should be a ton of fun and we’re trying to get it in before the end of the school year. I think SoundSlides would be a great way to communicate their work. The public schools don’t have many resources, and in this particular classroom the only system they have is an overhead slide projector. So I would love to be able to share their photos in a super cool multimedia aspect to expose them to what’s out there.

  15. I would love to use it to help tell the story of the Haitians – the story of hope and love that they have along with the need, that existed before the earthquake. I continue to go out there 2 times a year and have so many photographs but feel lost at trying to show video (as I feel like I fail all the time trying to shoot video) but I know a tool like this really reaches peoples attention even more then a photo. I have a Haiti exhibit that is begining to travel and this would be a perfect tool to have up on screens in the malls or galleries that show the exhibit. Check out the exhibit here -> http://www.vimeo.com/10699693

    Thank you for your time! And great review!

  16. During a volunteering stint in Uganda, I visited an orphanage for children with multiple handicaps. My intention is to raise money to hire people to do laundry at this place called “House of Hope” to replace their broken washing machine. I will do that by showing a slide show of that project along with some other similar projects in Jinja and collecting donations from people who attend the slide show(s). So the Soundslides software will help that show.

  17. I did some documentary work in Ethiopia and in Uganda for an NGO that works with orphans and widows. This was a life changing experience for me, as it took me out of my comfort zone. I witnessed extreme poverty, but also hope and grace in the midst of it all as well.

    If I win the Soundslides Plus software, I would use it to make a multimedia show which I would give to the NGO so they can use it on their website and when they have fundraising dinners, etc. I believe that having this tool at their disposal would help them to raise more money for the precious orphans and widows that they serve in Ethiopia and in Uganda. Thanks, Matt, for putting on this giveaway!

  18. Thank-you Matt for all of your efforts with your blog and podcast. I enjoy them both and have learned much. You do it with excellence.
    I have wondered how you have put together the wonderful slide shows that I have seen on your blog. Now I know, the secret is lots of hard work in the field and Soundslides. It sounds like just the answer I have been looking for. I have been struggling to add audio to my work.
    I must admit that I don't have a passion for photography. I have a passion to help people and photography is how I can do that. I do a lot of work for a disaster relief NGO, Service International. Like many of your followers who are fellow NGO photographers, not only do I not get paid for my work, but I pay my own way to go and help. I have been all over the world helping hurting people. Sri Lanka for Tsunami relief, Cambodia for orphans, Kosovo for aid to war survivors, and Zimbabwe, Africa. And all over the U.S. for flood and hurricane relief efforts.
    I just returned from the flood in the Nashville area. I shot a lot of photos and documented the relief efforts. For the first time I took a Zoom recorder and captured audio stories from flood victims. But I am not sure of how to best put together the production I see in my mind. I wondered “How do Matt and David put their shows together. Do I really have to buy and learn Final Cut Pro just to make a powerful slide show?” So I was excited just to read today that you do it so simply in Soundslides. I'm eager to go home tonight and try the trial of Soundslides to see if it is what I need.
    Then maybe I can get these stories out of my brain, off of my recorder and out where they can inspire people to either go on relief trips themselves or to give so others can go. That is my purpose and my passion. Honor God and Help People.

  19. I'd really like to win this, but don't really feel I deserve it after reading everyone else's plans! 🙂 I documented the region's last largest rill irrigation farm's conversion from rill irrigation to state of the art center pivot irrigation, implementing the first pumping system of it's kind in the country, which will save around 3000 acre feet of water every year and will reduce erosion substantially.

  20. I live and work in the inner city of Compton, CA, USA. Though Compton has long been infamous for poverty, crime, and violence, there are many amazing changes occurring throughout my city. I have recently created a photo blog as my way of documenting the transformation happening here — highlighting the heroes, development, and grass root events that are rebirthing this city. I would use Soundslide to continue to tell this story — the story of a new Compton. It would be an amazing tool that would allow me to put individual photos into “essay form” through a slideshow, rather than always just displaying a “list” of photos in a post. Thanks for considering my entry!

  21. Sorry Matt – it's Tonya Herman again. I just realized I probably should have given a specific example of the kind of project I would work on — so here it is. My husband has founded a youth development soccer club here in Compton (The Compton United Soccer Club), allowing kids in our community to have opportunities through soccer that they normally would not. In June, we are taking 10 teen boys from our club to South Africa for the world cup. They will have the opportunity of a lifetime — participating in an international youth tournament, attending a world cup game, and building soccer fields at a South African orphanage. We will also get to do a bit of touring and go on a safari! We are so excited to take them so far out of the world they know — to witness them “seeing the world.” Most of them are pretty poor by the US standard, but we know they will see themselves differently having visited Africa. We believe this trip can change their lives in many ways. I would love to be able to use SoundSlides to create a photo essay about this trip!

  22. Hey Matt,
    The goal in my photography is to bring to light the good work being done locally and around the world and to mobilize viewers to be a part. My current project is from a trip to Ethiopia, working with a faith based humanitarian group that runs the local clinic, orphanage, does famine relief, runs a school, and hosts a summer sports camp. For future projects, I'm wanting to work with an organization in my city that runs a soccer league for a government sponsored refugee apartment complex.

  23. I have an ongoing project documenting the life of the Pine Barrens in New Jersey. your posts really help me to put things in perspective. Hope to try out the software.

  24. When I saw this, my jaw dropped and I said, “Thats it!”
    My mission is to be a visual voice of cultures wanting to be heard, where stories need to be told and a humanity that must be shared.
    I'm currently working on an assignment for a clean water project in LaSource, Haiti.
    Using this software would help by serving the stories I photograph and its mission with a joyful and missing element to photography:: SOUND!
    Ahhhh, the beauty.

  25. I think SoundSlides also has a problem with right-justification of captions for right-to-left languages (Hebrew for example).

  26. If I own soundslide I will try to create a slide show of my photos during the Thadingyut (Festival of Lights) in Burma both at the Shwedagon Paya in Yangon and at the Golden Rock the day after.
    There was very mystical moments…

  27. This looks like an incredible tool for photographers who are interested in telling the story of life instead of just taking pictures. i go on a few mission trips a year with our church and would love to have this to share the story of the trips with others. i'd use it to go back and tell the stories of my trips to India, Egypt and Kenya.
    I leave in a month to Honduras and have been asked to strictly focus on documenting the trip. This trip is all about families and their kids going to serve. i intend to focus the story from the perspective of the kids. one of the goals is to use the story to encourage other families to take their kids on mission trips. I would use this tool for that story. thanks for the review and opportunity to enter to win.

  28. As I missed out on getting to go on the recent Within The Frame Italy trip (our first baby is due anytime soon) I've been in awe of any posts from that trip so I would give any copy I won to someone from that trip and make sure they told their story so I could see their results.

    Keep up the great work Matt with all of your stories from Penang. I was both in Penang and Langkawi (before it was developed) many years ago visiting local friends who still live there today. Never really had a camera with me on the trip but have the memories in my head and seeing your images remind me of some of those times. I still remember the first time I was given a Durian to eat and about 10 people were staring at me waiting for my reaction, only for me to turn around and say “It smells like coffee”. I was then told that apparently people who like Durian don't get the revolting smell. Not sure if that was really true or not.

  29. I am in the middle of a project right now that will go to book form and slide show. Given what I have seen of your shows and reading about Soundslides I am switching from the program I have been using. More control in Soundslides and a real affordable program.
    Great contest here Matt and I am looking forward to seeing what the winners create with this. Now I am off to order a copy for myself. 🙂

  30. Matt what a great idea and program. I am going on an impromptu road trip next week and decided it is finally time to start telling some stories with my photography. I have 3 ideas but the one I am keen to tell is about the cleanup and stories of people after the flood in Nashville TN. For whatever reason it gained so little press that the flooding virtually went unnoticed. It was only because we started planning this road trip that we found out about it. So much of the media focuses on the huge natural disasters that occur, like the gulf oil spill, but flooding of this nature is no less a disaster to those who are affected by it. Here's hoping that vibrant, musical Nashville will recover, I want to show the efforts and spirit that will bring about that recovery.

  31. I recently photographed the world's last ocean swimming elephant in the Andaman Islands. I have been trying to find the best way to share this incredible story. I use Lightroom and have made some slideshows in there but frankly they just aren't as versatile as SoundSlides. I just came across SoundSlides on your blog and am blown away by how valuable it is in it's simplicity and versatility. To be able to make slideshows that can easily post into blogs as well as websites,etc….make it a very effective tool in helping me share incredible stories with more people.

  32. I announced the winner today. Many of you who entered did not leave an email address. I have a $20 off link to give you for entering the contest. It is our way of saying thank you. But, I need an address to email you the details. So send me your email address at the link above ALL ABOUT ME > ABOUT ME > CONTACT ME

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