Lesson from the Shop: Still Images Plus Audio Can Be More Effective Than Online Video


I’ve written before about multimedia slideshows, and how nice it is that today they are available to everyone via the Web.  In the past they were generally created for small groups. Sometimes multimedia slideshows can be a more effective way of communicating than online video.
Advantages of Multimedia Slideshows
Today nearly 70 percent of Americans are considered visual learners. That only leaves about 30 percent who learn primarily from words-only communication. But does that mean we should skip past slideshows and go straight to video? I don’t think so.
My typical gear for a multimedia piece is quite simple. I have other lenses and microphones, but this is the core equipment needed.
Combining the visual with audio compounds and improves the learning process. Imagine a photograph of a landscape. Photos taken as the light plays over the terrain throughout the day, the evening and into the night awaken different emotional feelings in the viewer.
Just as changing light impacts a scene, so too can changes in audio. The same sentence read by several people using different emphases and voice inflections can totally change the meaning of the sentence. Combine these two powerful forms of communication, and the outcome is magnified as compared to either one alone.
Video combines the visual with audio as well, of course. But compared to video, many times the still image is more powerful than the moving image simply because it is still. It captures the moment.
It also takes more time and money to produce video. As a rule, it costs about three to five times more to produce a two to 10 minute video than a comparable audio/still photo project.
Gathering audio without having to shoot video is much easier. Recording in really close with an inexpensive microphone and recorder only requires one person. To obtain the same quality in a video requires a special microphone and usually two people — which means more money. A big advantage of multimedia is that one person can make the photos and then the same person can do an interview and combine it with the images for the final presentation.
The Audience’s Perspective
But forget costs for a moment. The New York Times, The Washington Post and even NPR have discovered that multimedia pieces are not just cost-efficient; they’re flat-out effective as a way to communicate with audiences.
Look at it from the audience’s perspective. A two-minute slideshow might be a five to seven meg file. The same length of video might be a 30 to 50 meg file. Video over the Web is supplying at least 15 frames a second or 1,800 images for a two-minute video, versus a two-minute multimedia package that will have 30 to 60 frames total on average. If your audience doesn’t have high-bandwidth connections, the multimedia package will serve them better.
What’s more, while the multimedia package file is smaller than the video file, the image size isn’t. Usually, the video screen isn’t large enough and the frame rate isn’t high enough on the Web to capture nuances. With multimedia, the still images can be larger and capture nuances of emotion, making even talking-head pieces more compelling.
Let’s think about this for a moment. 
If –
  • Nearly 70 percent of the audience learns visually
  • Multimedia packages are easier and less expensive to produce
  • Multimedia packages are easier for the audience to access; and
  • Multimedia packages offer a more enjoyable, nuanced visual experience…
  • Why aren’t you shooting multimedia slideshows?
Here’s a video I did recently for Chick-fil-A Daddy Daughter Night.