Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Creating video out of little more than audio

Over at my work blog, I've been working on this investigative report of a 30-year-old murder that has sent a man to prison for a crime he claims he didn't commit.

In the course of those posts, I've been using multimedia to tell the story, but it's produced its own particular challenges. There aren't a lot of visuals left from a crime that happened in 1981. But I did land a phone interview from prison with Ronnie Rhodes, whose case we've been looking into with students from a Kansas law school.

I wanted to produce an audio story to let people hear Rhodes speak.

Katie, our online content developer, shook her head, "no."

At least I just got the shake of the head. The online team says you're really in trouble when Katie gives you a shake of the head and roll of the eyes. The eyes didn't roll this time.

"No one listens to audio on our site," she said. I had to come up with something visual -- anything but a blank screen.

Not having much video or visuals, we decided to create a timeline of what Rhodes said happened the night of the crime. We ended up with this video.

I created the timeline using PowerPoint. I saved the slides as .jpgs, then imported them into Final Cut Express. You work with what you've got, after all.

The "video" was really the audio story I'd wanted to create with something for people to watch while they listened to it. It worked. It continued to get a number of views for weeks after I originally posted it, and the three-part series, ranked among our most-watched videos that first week. I'm still getting views on them months later.

So what do you think? Do people listen to straight audio stories on your site? What can you do to help create video with a lack of visuals?