Audio slideshows: Perfecting the art of hanging out

This audio slideshow about two street musicians on Chicago’s Red Line El train reveals some nice storytelling skills.

The “Chicago Street Musicians” audio slideshow is published on the award-winning hyperlocal news site The Red Line Project, created in 2011 by DePaul University students and their College of Communications instructor Mike Reilley. Photos are by Forest Davis, and audio recordings are by Kevin Dempsey and Jake Scott.

Musicians are good audio slideshow subjects

Musicians are always a great audio slideshow subjects because they provide natural material for ambient sound. The musicians performing on the train platform are in a setting that’s full of story, action and sound (including the screechy, beeping train sounds that were impossible to scrub from the audio track).

“One of my favorite parts of the slideshow is the transition from the first musician to the second,” Reilley said. “How it slows down, the music changes and the new character is introduced. It was a very clever way to do it.”

Photography: angles, images and layering

To get great audio slideshow material, it’s key for the photographer to move around the subject, get both close-up shots and faraway shot, and get images that layer potent objects and actions next to each other.

“Forest Davis did a great job shooting the black and white photography,” Reilley said. “He shot from so many interesting different angles.”

The art of hanging out

Cultivate the art of hanging out, Reilley tells his students. “In this era, we rush the story up and get it over to social media.” Slowing the pace of reporting can mean the difference between great and mediocre audio slideshows.

“The project required the students to spend a lot of time with the musicians, to gain their trust,” Reilley said. “You can’t do that with ‘drive-by’ journalism. You need to put in the time. These musicians see hundreds of people each day who walk by them and ignore them. These students showed what can happen when you slow down and listen to the lyrics … you find a great story.”

See the Red Line Project online.

Follow Reilley and the Red Line Project journalists at @journtoolbox and @redlineproject


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