Web Presentations With Sound: Soundslides Makes Creating Online Audio-Visual Presentations Easy
Web Presentations With Sound: Soundslides Makes Online Audio-Visual Presentations Easy To Create, and Publish On The Web.
Soundslides is a simple, affordable way of getting audio-visual presentations onto the web. With no more than a folder of image files and an audio recording of your narration, Soundslides will output an easy to view, simple to navigate presentation ready to be viewed in any browser.
Users can then view presentations regardless of their operating system, as the only requirement is the ever present Flash plugin. This is an effective way of making sure that everyone you invite to view your presentation will be able to do so, whether they are on a Windows PC or a Mac.
With a simple drag and drop interface, presentations are easy to put together in minutes by simply arranging a folder of JPEG images into any order you like, and choosing their duration to fit your prerecorded soundtrack. Soundslides will automatically add transitions between slides, and captions can be added to each slide on the fly to support your audio content.
Soundslides key capabilities and features can be seen in the short video I have prepared here below, while I am including, within a pop-up right below it, also the Soundslides generated Flash presentation player. Inside both I talk you through the central features of this affordable, versatile application.
See the same introductory presentation I did in the video above, as displayed by the Soundslides-generated Flash player (just click on it):
The Soundslides application, which has both Mac OSX and Windows XP versions, uses a very simple drag and drop interface to arrange your image files along a timeline. Images can be arranged by simply reshuffling them into the order you wish them to play, with an intuitive click and drag.
Each image can be expanded or contracted along the timeline so that your visuals are in perfect sync with the audio file you have added to the presentation. It is possible to drag these slide durations in real time as you play through the audio track, so that it takes little more than a few minutes to put together a polished presentation.
This audio file can take the form of an mp3, AIFF or WAV file and the length of this file will determine the length of the presentation. While it would be nice to have the option of using multiple sound files in future releases, it is a simple procedure to mix the slide visuals with the audio track and the result is a sense of continuity between slides that might otherwise be more difficult to produce.
The seamless audio is backed up with a choice of three transition types - a default Crossfade, Straight Cuts between slides and a Fade Out/Fade In option, all of which add something to the overall experience.
In this edition, the transitions are uniformly applied across the presentation and while it might be nice to be able to select from among these transitions, the fact that they are automated does ultimately save time.
When the presentation is finished, it is ready to be exported at a size and quality level selected by the user. The end result is a folder containing all of the files necessary to upload the presentation to your web site server via FTP.
While for some, this may be a relatively simple task, a definite improvement would be the ability to upload the presentation to your site from within the application, or better still for it to produce a file that could be easily embedded into any blog site or homepage.
Viewing the finished presentations is simple and there are some nice features included in the player. It is possible to scan through the coming slides as the presentation plays, with thumbnails appearing along the timeline and the inclusion of captions at the bottom of the player allow for subtitling or additional information to be added to the audio and visual elements of the presentation.
Room For Improvement
If anything lets Soundslides down, then, it is the lack of ease with which presentations move from the very user friendly interface to the web. If you are happy to upload the final presentation to your website, using FTP, and don't mind the end presentation taking up a page all of its own then you are unlikely to have any problems.
However, if you should want to embed the presentation into a blog, or integrate it into another web page, there is no support for this feature at the time of writing. In preparing this review, it was necessary to record a screen capture of the presentation, and to enlist the help of our webmaster to set about uploading and preparing a pop up window for our readers to be able to access the presentation. While this is doubtless basic coding, it shouldn't, in the age of easy sharing Web 2.0 applications, be necessary to get your hands dirty in this way to get a presentation online.
It would be great to see an easier, more user friendly way of getting these impressive, slick presentations onto the web with a minimum of hassle. As soon as the publishing part of the program catches up with the production aspect, it may become another one among the passionate competitors rapidly crowding this space.
In brief, this is a great application for delivering audio-visual presentations over the web in a format that will allow web visitors on any kind of computer platform or operating system to join in without imposing on them any extra requirements (no software or plugins to download to watch and listen to your presentation).
While I found a few specific features that would require further improvement, I found Soundslides to be a very intuitive, quick-to-master and easy-to-use tool for delivering web presentations with associated audio on the web.
While the number of similar web presentation delivery applications grows very rapidly, for the time being Soundslides demonstrates to be an interesting and reliable choice for a range of screencasting and presentation applications. Time will tell whether its $39.95 price tag will be able to withstand the competition from similar very-low cost Web 2.0 services (notably vMix, RockYou, Speechi.net).
- Requirements: Windows XP, XP Media Edition, 2000 or OSX
- Price: $39.95 USD
- Download Windows XP Version
- Download Mac OSX Version
- Download Windows 2000 Version
- Soundslides homepage - featuring the latest news and updates
- Publishing instructions - easy guidelines for getting your Soundslides presentations onto the web
- Soundslides Frequently Asked Questions - A comprehensive list of further information on the product
- Soundslides Forums - Discuss the application with the developers and other users
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