Pacing your slideshow

Here are a couple fun slideshows that really show the impact of pacing. Both are winners in NPPA’s monthly multimedia contest. Both are flipbooks, or slideshows made up of single images strung together in sequence so they look like a jagged movie. You know, like those kids books where you flip the pages really fast and watch Bugs Bunny jump down the rabbit hole. Both flipbooks cover the annual fair in their hometown, and both are set to music found at the fair. But beyond that, the differences are striking.

Emily Nelson of the Burlington Free Press created a piece “Fair Flipbook” which won 3rd place, Individual Audio Slideshow in Sept 08. This piece is shorter, the music is sort of New Age trance, and the photos move along at a slow pace.

Ben Garvin of the St. Paul Pioneer Press created the piece “The Minnesota State Fair on Speed” which won 1st place, Individual Video also in Sept. 08. This piece is much longer, faster, uses many more images and is set to fast-paced music.

The first observation is that while these were both clearly flipbooks, one was entered as a slideshow and the other as video.

I think the individual images in Nelson’s piece hold up better. She uses nice light and catches more thoughtful moments. The takeaway is a contemplative look at the fair, far from the usual screams and loud fast music. I think its weakest link is the sequencing. We follow a scene, and then it stops just as the people are about to walk through the scene, or just as the ride is about to make its loop. More than once, I waited in anticaption that never paid off. The project would have been much stronger if she’d have just held the camera steady. It lasts 2:45, and with a minute to go I caught myself glancing at the counter.

Garvin’s project was much broader in scope. He strings an astonishing 4000 images together in just 2 minutes, so the pace is truly dizzying. Image quality is much lower, with quite a few poor exposures. This is especially distracting right at the beginning, before I’ve really “committed” to watching. It does have more of the look and feel of video. He uses more broad images, for example, the hoards of people as he overhead on the arial skyport. He made a commitment to each sequence he shot, holding them much longer and steadier than most of Nelson’s. Garvin was going for humor, with banjo music and lots of shots of food processing and farm animals. There were several nice little “payoffs” at the end of sequences to make the viewer smile.

In the end, Nelson seems to have thought more about individual images and created a quiet, personal piece. Garvin gave more attention to the production and overall look and feel. Both have their merits. Ideally, I think most flipbooks should be paced somewhere in the middle of these two. But they’re both worth enjoying, especially before I take a group of students to the fair tomorrow. Between shooting, I’ll be eating a funnel cake.

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About mcgillmedia

I take pictures and teach other people how to do it, too.
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