An in-house introduction to audio-visual (AV) presentations and their production methods and styles, prepared by club members, showing interesting and dynamic examples of their work. together with descriptions of the processes involved.

The evening was initiated by Alan M, who described the decades of family photographs in his possession, many of the older ones in albums but those of more recent vintage being stored on computers. Alan has found that neither of these storage methods is appealing to the younger members of the family, who are therefore missing out on many aspects of the family history. He has found that putting a selection of such images into short duration audio-visual movie clips (accompanied by a relevant and dynamic soundtrack) can appeal to all ages.

Alan uses a product called Movie Maker (other programs are available) for the production of his AV clips, using it to link together his photos or movie clips, introducing them with title pages, captions and selectable transitions between the individual pictures. Movie Maker also allows the incorporation of a sound track, also adjustable with alternative transitions between individual tracks. This product is available free, but a more fully featured version is on sale at modest cost.

We were treated to a selection of short examples of such AV presentations, illustrating many of the features of the AV clips that can be produced, as well as the powerfull impact that local and relevant music tracks can have in enhancing the viewing experience.

Alan has also successfully projected old 8mm film reels, and recorded them onto his phone camera, and transfered these into his AV output. He uses another free program called Avidemux to edit down the length of the clip to the precise segments required for the AV presentation.

Finally, Alan showed us how he puts together his AV presentations by using the software, selecting a string of images and videos then generating title tiles, captions, and transitions between images. He then introduced soundtracks, and adjusted the running time by selecting image display times typically between 4 and 5 seconds as a minimum, but not too long. He adjusted the soundtrack so that it co-ordinated with the image as it came into view. He typically varies the soundtrack selected to align with changes in title tiles for scene or location, and uses fade options to smooth out the audio transitions. In total this demonstration of a presentation of about 10 minutes duration took him around 15 to 20 minutes to produce, now that he has gained experience with the software.

Overall the presentation showed the software to be fairly comprehensive, allowing a reasonable range of options to produce AV presentations of good quality, and intuitive to learn – although perhaps not as straightforward as it appeared during this expert demonstration.

The second part of the evening was presented by David S, who showed us a selection of AV clips chosen to demonstrate the range of ideas that can be incorporated into various projects. David explained that his preference is for text screens to transition between different sections of his presentations, rather than incorporating the spoken word. David uses a product called Pro Show Gold to produce his presentations, although this is no longer marketed (other products are available). As we know, David is very skilled at image manipulation, and this was on full display within the AV clips.

David talked about the difficulties in recording moving images for incorporation into AV presentations, particularly the problems with extraneous noises appearing on movie recordings. Blending soundtracks presents further challenges at scene changes.

David took us through some of his earlier work showing multiple layers of images being moved around within the scene to give the illusion of movement between objects in the field of view, as well as later animations applied to inanimate objects to give the illusion of lifelike interactions. The range of samples shown was extensive, and often breathtaking. David’s final AV presentation of stills taken at an exhibition of Tutankhamun objects was breathtaking, with a level of final production values that amazed this writer.

A further software package able to produce such AV output mentioned during the evening is Photo Story 3 AV.

Overall, a very interesting and informative evening with great potential for adding to the skill set of many of the viewers. Now if only we had the time to dedicate to the task – another lockdown perhaps…?

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