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Audio Visual guidelines

Apologies for the delay in writing this blog post, but as promised, this blog post will outline what was discussed at the A/V members' night at the end of the season, and hopefully will provide all the information you need to have a go at an A/V of your own over the summer.

On our first night back next season we will look at your presentations. It's not a competition, it's all for fun, so don't worry about 'rules'.

Audio Visual is a completely different way to present photographs. It is a recognised form of photography, and distinctions from the PAGB and FIAP are available for those who want to take it more seriously.

The basic principle is a means to present photographs alongside music and/or narration. The inclusion of text and even video clips are also possible. This blog post will, along with Iain McLachlan's handout from his talk, show how to do this in Photoshop.


There are numerous ways to prepare an A/V presentation. When David Pickford came to do his talk at the club, he demonstrated a programme called 'PicturesToExe', which has been used by photographers who compete in A/V contests as the industry standard for some time now. PicturesToExe Deluxe v9 is now available - and you can download a free trial here if you wish to try it. This software allows you to export your finished A/V as an executable file, which is typical for competitions. To be honest though, it presents more problems than it solves, because it plays havoc with anti-virus software, which tends to react badly to unknown executable files! My advice is therefore to avoid this programme for the time being, unless you want to start competing nationally/internationally.

The fact is that there are numerous pieces of software available now that you can use to make excellent A/Vs - and most if not all of you will have something already installed on your computer at home.

For very simple presentations, Windows 10's 'Photos' app has a 'video projects' tab, that lets you set a slideshow to music. For Mac users, iMovie does a similar job, and has lots of templates as well as customisation of your A/V. For users of older Windows systems, MovieMaker was a great pre-installed programme for making A/Vs - it's a shame it is no longer available for Windows 10!

For more advanced A/V presentations, there are a number of choices - but we are wandering into full video editing software. The most commonly used are Adobe Premier Pro (notoriously glitchy on Apple hardware) and Apple Final Cut Pro, although there are cheaper solutions available - Cyberlink PowerDirector being the one I have used most to date. Look out for free downloads of the previous years' version of Cyberlink PowerDirector in photography magazines - they are frequently offered. Most of these programmes offer a free trial if you want to give them a go - Cyberlink v17 is available for 30 days by following this link.


On our A/V night, Iain McLachlan demonstrated how to create an A/V in Photoshop CC. I believe it's been a feature of Photoshop since CS6. Iain prepared a sheet with instructions, which you can download here. Follow the instructions on the sheet, step by step, and you will have created a slide show set to music - a great new way to show off your images.

Note - when you have finished your slideshow, click the render button and ensure it is set to "Adobe Media Encoder" before clicking on render. This wasn't set as default when I tried it.

Using the method set out in Iain's sheet, I made a simple slideshow of the colour print of the year images. This took around 5 minutes to prepare and a further 5 minutes to render as a video - it's really incredibly simple!

Advanced Options

Beyond the creation of a basic slideshow, with transitions and music, you can move on to add text, record a commentary of voiceover, adjust the length of various clips, and even animate still images to move across the screen, or zoom in or out, to make the whole this more dynamic. This can be done in Photoshop by right mouse clicking on an image and simply selecting one of the presets. This can be taken even further by adding key frames - which set start and end points for animations on the timeline - so the image will move or zoom smoothly from one point to the other.

The opportunities for creativity do not stop there. You can add text that seems to interact with the images, using masks. It can get very complicated quickly, but can also be endless fun, and a great way to learn your way around what software can do.

As Iain mentioned in his presentation, and on his sheet, there are lots of resources online that can help you learn how to do various things. Everything I have learned about using Premier Pro for example has been done by searching youtube for video tutorials, and from following creative people on there like Peter McKinnon and Greg Snell, who are both terrific photographers as well as videographers. Both offer loads of examples and tutorials on how to do some really clever things when preparing videos, much of which translates very well to A/Vs.


One thing that might put people off is where to find music for creating an A/V. For competitions, there are issues of copyright to worry about, but there are loads of places where you can get royalty free music online. One site I use a lot is Purple Planet, which lets you download a range of short music clips (1-5 minutes long) for free. If you post these online, that is fine, provided you credit them as the source of the music - I usually add a 'credits' page at the end of the A/V.

The Summer Challenge

So the Summer Challenge for BPS members is simply to have a go at making your own A/V. We'd suggest something relatively short, 2-3 minutes perhaps, with any topic, any music, any style. Just let your imagination run wild. Don't worry about copyright on music - it's only for playing at the club - so use anything you like.

It's not the easiest subject to 'teach' at a club, because the possibilities really are almost endless, but if lots of you have a go, then we can spend an evening watching them, and perhaps come up with ways that they could be improved, or expanded.

Most of all, have fun with it. There are no prizes, and no judges - just a fun challenge for the summer months.

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