Eva Gilliam: making great audio slideshow profiles of people

Audio slideshows are especially suited for people profiles. In a conversation with Soundslides earlier this month, freelance digital media producer and videographer Eva Gilliam suggested we look at an audio slideshow that was part of the Children’s Radio Foundation Young Reporters Network project.

(What are your techniques for making great audio slideshows about people? Tell us in the comments section below.)

Yolanda Benya: Cape Town, South Africa from Children’s Radio Foundation on Vimeo.

In the piece, 18-year-old Yolanda Benya of Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town, moved with her family from a corrugated zinc hut in an impoverished slum, where people were “just living because of living,” into a new community of houses with electricity and running water. “It’s about hope and change, and the possibility shown through this change,” Gilliam said. The story was produced by Benya along with journalist and youth radio trainer Clemence Petit-Perrot at the Children’s Radio Foundation. Gilliam made final cuts and polished the timing.

Slow down

“It’s a great example of an audio slideshow because it takes its time,” Gilliam said. “It’s not short; it’s 4.5 minutes. It is really simple, and gives you a great picture of who Yolanda is and where she’s from.”

Keep it simple

The simplicity of the storyline keeps the character – her voice, images and actions – at the forefront driving the narrative.

“Benya is telling her story about getting housing in a new place and having a potential better future for her family, so you have two locations and one main person,” Gilliam said. “The photographer went to Benya’s old home, photographed her with her neighbors, and photographed her in her new home and in action as a youth reporter.”

Look for telling details

The photographer worked hard to get a scope of images depicting the telling details of Benye’s life – personal and professional.

“For a character-driven piece, the photographer needs to understand that two photos of that person doing something is not enough,” Gilliam said. “You need to have a whole sequence, and if you can spend a few hours with that person getting them in a natural environment and not asking them ‘okay, now look like you’re dressing the baby; now look you’re cooking; okay, now look like you’re doing something else —‘ if you can really spend time with the person and get ten to 20 shots of them in very different contexts, that’s going to help you so much more than just getting two strong shots with an audio clip of 30 seconds.”

The audio slideshow is heartwarming and honest. Benya, who is one of the few teenagers in her neighborhood to graduate from high school, is going to the University of Cape Town, where she’s studying film and media.

“I believe change is good,” Benya says into the microphone for the audio slidehow. “I am wearing shades every day because the future is so bright.”

Check out more about Eva Gilliam

Read more of Eva Gilliam’s comments about making great audio slideshows in our two earlier blog posts, or check out Gilliam’s work at her blog.

Please add your voice to the discussion. How do you create great people stories with audio slideshows?


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