Online Multimedia Presentations Get Interactive: Remix Your Photos And Videos With Vuvox
Online multimedia presentation tools are a whole new exciting niche within the Web 2.0 landscape, letting you easily take your photos and videos and create great-looking visual mash-ups from them. It's one thing to sift through a page full of uninspiring, identical thumbnails, and quite another to navigate your media collection in a rich media environment. A new service lets you do just that, so that you can create multimedia presentations and interact with them in a hands-on way.
If the first wave of Web 2.0 was comprised of services that made it easy for you to share your photos and publish your videos, this next wave of easy-to-use web applications is all about bringing your online media together, remixing them and presenting the results in beautiful looking compositions.
Scrapblog lets you create visually rich, embeddable online scrapbooks and slideshows, Splashcast makes it easy to put together your own custom channels of images, videos and audio, and now Vuvox gives you a way to create multimedia presentations that your users can explore and interact with.
In this video review of Vuvox I take you through its simple multimedia authoring process. In the space of a few minutes Vuvox lets you:
- Import media from a number of online sources, or your own computer
- Arrange your media into themed layouts
- Customize the look of these layouts with a range of design options
- Publish the interactive results to your own hosted channel, or embed them in your website
If you're looking for inventive ways to share your portfolio, present your information or just display your photo collection to friends, you may just have found it.
Vuvox - Overview
Online multimedia presentation tools have gone well beyond the remit of PowerPoint, with its grounding in the paradigm of the slide projector. When you put a presentation together with PowerPoint you do so a slide at a time, and then present these slides back to your viewer one after the other. Vuvox takes a different approach.
The idea is that you upload or locate the online images and video files you want to bring together, remix them into a new combination, and then give your viewers the freedom to navigate the collected media on their own terms. This is the difference between being offered a single TV show to watch and being handed the remote control to choose for yourself.
As a viewer when I arrive at a Vuvox presentation, I am given some simple choices. Let's say, for instance, that the presentation I'm viewing is made up a tree, and that on the ends of each of its branches are small polaroid photographs. All I have to do is click on a photograph that interests me, and I can zoom in on it. Click again, and I zoom out to see the whole tree again, ready to make my next selection.
While this isn't a million miles away from simply choosing photos to look at from a list of thumbnails, the experience is far more visually cohesive, and feels much more intuitive. In Vuvox my images are all part of a larger whole, and that whole is held together by the great-looking designs supplied by the Vuvox team.
While for some this might feel like needless window dressing, others will find the visual exploration of virtual spaces an interesting and inventive way to share online media. Which camp you fall into will depend largely on how you see yourself using Vuvox.
For those looking to create data-heavy business presentations, there may be more suitable applications elsewhere. However, those interested in putting together interactive portfolios, class projects or even brainstorming sessions might find Vuvox a useful tool to take a look at.
The Vuvox process is broken down into three sections, which I will now take a look at in more detail:
- Importing media
- Creating Vuvox Mash-ups
- Publishing to the web
Capturing Your Media
When you set out to create a new multimedia presentation the first thing you will need to do is import your photos and videos, which can be brought in from both a number of online sources and from your own computer. The focus of Vuvox is exclusively on photographs and video files, and Vuvox makes it easy for you to source either from the web should you wish to.
In addition to being able to upload a batch of photos or a video file from your computer, you can:
- Search Flickr, Google and Photobucket for images
- Filter results by users, tags and full-text for Flickr searches
- Upload YouTube videos by entering a video URL
- Capture photos individually or in related 'clusters' comprised of a number of images grouped together
Adding photos or videos to your collection is as simple as dragging and dropping any thumbnail image over to your 'storyboard', where they will be stored, ready for you to use in your Vuvox compositions. In this first video I take you through this simple process:
Vuvox - Importing Your Media
Creating Your Media Mash-Up
By this point you should have a storyboard full of photos and / or video files, and can now set down to remixing them into your interactive presentation. To get started here, you simply click on the 'create' tab at the top of the screen and choose from one of seven distinctive 'styles' for the presentation.
The names of these styles somewhat betray Vuvox focus on the younger MySpace crowd. Nevertheless, as each style has extensive customization options, I would argue that Vuvox goes well beyond this demographic in its ability to create well-designed multimedia presentations.
The styles included are:
- Photo slider - a simple theme that allows you to grab a slide-bar at the bottom of the presentation and move the slides left and right across the screen, as if they were part of a film strip
- Tree - a theme in which a customizable tree is placed over a background image of your choice. From the branches of the tree hang your videos and images, which you can zoom into and out of with the click of a mouse
- Street 2 - which allows you to place your video and images into a street scene with several settings that users can easily navigate between
- Skate - which lets you place photos and videos into the environment of a photo backdrop, connect them together in various patterns, and adjust layout very easily
- DEMO Street - in which you can drag your photos and images into preset locations in the backdrop of a bedroom and street scene
- Vuvision - which lets you mash-up your photos and images in a realtime 'mixing engine'
- Postcard viewer - which taps into the real world metaphor of photos spread out in whatever way you see fit, which you can shuffle around to your heart's content
- Slideshow - which gives you a classic slideshow format to display your photos and videos in
In the next video I give you a whirlwind tour of these themes and how they effect the overall look of your Vuvox mash-up:
On first impressions seven styles seems like it will give you very little room for flexibility in how you present your online media. However, these seven styles are in actual fact highly customizable, and give you plenty of opportunity to adapt them to your needs.
This is achieved by making use of the 'customization' tab, which has a range of options available depending on which style you are using.
If, for example, you are using the 'Tree' style, you have the choice of changing the size and images used for branches and leaves, along with the ability to alter the spread of the branches, and add different 'flowers', which will frame your media. You can, for instance, make use of miniature televisions, polaroids, vinyl records and trucks, each of which will host your photograph or video.
Other styles will allow you to extensively customize the images and videos, so that you can alter saturation, contrast and tint for instance. In this next video clip, I take you through some of the customization options available:
Vuvox - Customizing Your Media
Publishing Your Presentation
When you have finished customizing your multimedia remix, the next thing you will want to do is share it. Here you have more than one option available to you.
As you would expect, you can publish your presentations to a personalized Vuvox web-page and invite others to come and view it there. Vuvox features the usual option to send out an email invitation as you complete the publication process.
In actual fact, you can create more than one of your own custom channels to publish to, and are given the option of which of these channels to send your presentation to upon completion of the creation process. Should you be creating a range of different presentations for different audiences, this could prove useful. It is also possible to decide whether your presentations will be available to the public, or restricted to a private audience of your own choosing.
Your online multimedia presentations would be somewhat limited if you were not able to export them to other locations, and as has become the norm with such services, Vuvox presentations can be embedded in your own website.
Here you are even given a choice in how the presentation will be embedded - as a thumbnail and description, as a medium-sized presentation, or full-sized.
Vuvox - Publishing Your Presentation
In this final video, I guide you through the simple publishing process:
Vuvox is an useful tool for those looking to remix their online video and photo collections into rich interactive multimedia presentations. In the space of a few short minutes you can search for, import, arrange and customize your photos and videos into stylish designer presentations.
What distinguishes Vuvox presentations from those made with similar tools is the fact that the user navigates the presentations for themselves in a hands-on way. This goes well beyond simply pressing a button to view the next or last slide - instead users navigate their way around a virtual space, whether zooming in and out of the images spread out across the screen, or moving from one space to another.
Vuvox is very much part of a trend that takes video and photo-sharing to the next level by packaging and dressing up the experience of exploring your aggregated media. Instead of simply browsing thumbnails from search results, users of Vuvox are presented with a visually cohesive design space, in which interrelated images and videos are woven together into a greater whole.
Recent examples of this aggregate-and-integrate approach to media-sharing include the impressive Scrapblog, the versatile Splashcast and the recently re-vamped iBloks, and Vuvox brings its own unique spin to this growing genre of web application.
While Vuvox will not appeal to all, given that its design seems largely targeted at the younger MySpace crowd, it is by no means limited to this demographic. The customization tools included in each of Vuvox seven thematic 'styles' make for a flexible tool well suited to delivering a range of online presentations, and not simply to sharing personal photo collections.
The ability to quickly source, pool together, stylize and then publish your online videos and photos in fresh, great-looking presentations will therefore appeal to a range of users. Should you find yourself wanting to try out a fresh and different approach to presenting your image and video files, Vuvox is certainly worth taking a look at.
If you are interested in learning more about Vuvox and alternative ways of creating multimedia mash-ups of your online media, you might want to check out the following links:
- The Vuvox website
- Recent Vuvox examples
- Vuvox FAQ
- Vuvox alternative Scrapblog
- Vuvox alternative iBloks
- Multimedia aggregation service Splashcast
[ Read more ]
Originally written by Michael Pick for Master New Media and originally published as: "Online Multimedia Presentations Get Interactive: Remix Your Photos And Videos With Vuvox"
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