Free tool of the week: Yodio melds narration and images

yodio-capture1In the next few weeks, I’m hoping to give you the low-down on some free online media that combine slides, photos, voice-overs, graphics, and/or music. I think they have interesting potential applications for nonprofits. But first, I want to try them!

This week I tackled Yodio, which allows you to synchronize voice-over (that you phone in) with a series of photos into a narrated slide show. It’s like a podcast with images. They say it’s simple and quick—and once you learn it it is. But it took me about 3 hours to create the Yodio below—from gathering and uploading pictures to writing and recording a script. If I had to do it again, it would probably take half that time.

I wanted to give you an example of what media like this might be able to do for nonprofits. (The Yodio gallery doesn’t have any nonprofit examples.) So, I put together a fake 2-minute lobbying spot for a clean water and land referendum that was passed last fall in Minnesota. Other uses for media like this might include: key takeaways from a research report, announcing a new project, impact interviews with beneficiaries of your organization, brief testimonials from donors, a virtual tour of a new facility, a teaser for an issue campaign, even introducing your staff.

I like Yodio, but I think it’s going to get even better as they introduce new features (which I hope are still free). As with most media like this, there’s a good free level of membership and a better paid level of membership. I used the free membership.

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1) Right now, you have to record the audio track for each photo separately—kind of laborious, but they have an option once you’re on the phone that lets you can record many of these tracks in one call. Just stay on the line after you’re through with your first track, and they’ll give you an option to record another one right away.

2) There are various options for transitioning from one slide to another—I just chose dissolve, but I think if this were for real, I would have tinkered with that. Some of these dissolves are great—others are clunky and draw attention to themselves.

3) Name each track that you record—this text will scroll as the slide is displayed. It’s another way to reinforce your message.

4) You’ll notice there’s a time lag between when my voice stops and the end of the track—it doesn’t make it easy to transition to another slide in mid-sentence. Yodio tells me that I could have used the phone key prompt (#1) to end  the recording right when I stopped speaking rather than waiting for the audio prompt. I think that would have solved this problem. Live and learn.

5) When you’re recording over the phone, use the very best phone you’ve got. And try to keep it at the same distance throughout the whole recording, while using the same volume whenever you speak. You’ll notice there are a few distracting modulation changes in my piece—that’s because I recorded a couple of the tracks at a different time than I did the rest. Record all at once to avoid this.

All you experienced Yodio users, any other tips for folks?

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(By the way, I mailed Ana from New Mexico the free Cass Wheeler book.)

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5 Responses to “Free tool of the week: Yodio melds narration and images”

  1. Meri Walker Says:

    So glad to see this example! And yes, it’s a bit of work, but once you’ve learned the system, it will be faster next time, I’ll bet.

    You know, you can do the kind of thing you did here all in one audio recording and synch the images to it using Microsoft’s free Photo Story 3. Have you tried it? Might be easier for a project like this than Yodio (except you’ll need a microphone).

    Nice work! And I’m glad a Tweet got you there!

  2. IMPACTMAX Says:

    Thanks, Meri. I’ll add Photo Story to my list of tools to try!

  3. Katie Says:

    I second that comment about the ease of PhotoStory 3 over Yodio – I use Audacity software for the voiceover and pair it with photos to make a slideshow. Here’s an example of my use of PhotoStory for a digital history project for a public library.

    And this is a PDF I wrote that explains how it’s done: http://www.webjunction.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=32382741&name=DLFE-7120002.pdf

    • IMPACTMAX Says:

      Love this Katie! It does sound more complicated than Yodio–because of the editing you do on audacity and gimp but I’m sure the product quality is higher as a result. I appreciate the sample and basic instructions. I’ll give it a try.

  4. 3 cool, creative, free communications tools for nonprofits « IMPACTMAX Says:

    […] year I blogged about the promise of Animoto, Glogster, and Yodio as free ways to add more zip to your photos. I’ll add one more–Kizoa. I think Kizoa is […]


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