What is A-V?

A-V is the art form which links sequences of still images to music and soundtracks. The older form used photographic slides projected by two or more projectors and linked to sound on tape or minidisc. Now most new work is based on digital photographic images recorded together with a soundtrack on CD or hard drive for playing through a computer and video projector.

What software do I need?

There are a number of different programmes available, the most popular are…

  • Pics2exe (from WnSoft)
  • ProShow (from Photodex)

Many other programmes can also produce slideshows including some versions of Photoshop and Windows Movie Maker.

It is also useful to have audio editing software to edit the soundtrack to your sequence such as Audacity or Adobe Audition.

Key points to planning an AV sequence.

  • Before starting an AV project make a new folder on your computer. Title it with the name of the AV sequence.   Use it to store all media required for the show – pictures, music, narration, sound effects, story board, script etc.
  • Pictures should always in the same format, Landscape or Portrait. Pictures to be introduced within a full screen image may be smaller and therefore can be either format.
  • Music chosen should be appropriate to the mood of the sequence.
  • Narration should be clear and delivered in a manner appropriate to the mood of the sequence.
  • The AV sequence should not have too many different transitions.
  • It should have a beginning, middle and an end and not be over long.    More than 10 minutes is generally too long.


What Makes a Sequence Work?

(taken from http://www.theiac.org.uk/av/judging/judging-av.html)

It must hold my interest even if the subject is not one I would normally choose to watch. It will be well crafted, i.e. the author will have taken time to perfect every aspect of it. It will have a pace that suits the mood being created. The ‘why I want to communicate this to you’ will come across e.g. ‘Why I love flowers’ or ‘I find this where to buy crestor online interesting/fascinating and want to share it with you’ or ‘My soul is fed when I am in the mountains – this is how I feel’.

A good sequence should not let anything distract the audience. Distractions could be:

  • Bad image quality – out of focus, poor lighting, bland skies, colour casts, sloping water horizons.
  • Bad sound quality – loud hiss, especially if it stops and starts, popping P’s (speak across the mic rather than down into it), bad music changes, stops abruptly at the end, music too loud behind voiceover, sound effects badly used.
  • Bad fades – images are different size or orientation, horizons don’t matchup, lines/angles/shapes cross rather than match, a non-fade transition is used for no purpose.
  • Movement – must be relevant and enhance the sequence, if you notice it thinking ‘why’s it suddenly moving?’ it probably isn’t working.
  • Zooming and panning – as with movement. I always think ‘did that pan give me extra useful information?’
  • Badly chosen music – it has no relevance to the sequence, wrong pace for mood being created.
  • Script problems – talking to the pictures i.e. describing exactly what we can see, over technical/too much information for audience aimed at, lost the plot, repeating things unnecessarily.
  • Production problems – images don’t change in time to the music/soundtrack, sequence too long, repeated images, not enough variety of images, lacks satisfying ending, unsuitable voice chosen for voiceover, text not held on long enough to read or on too long, text not sympathetic to sequence i.e. size and font.

What I am looking for is ‘Magic X’. There is sometimes something about a sequence that will send it immediately to the top of my list. It’s undefinable, you just know it when you see it. It’s ‘a bit of magic’, a sequence that is unforgettable.

Marion Waine – July 2011


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