The Croydon Advertiser has seen traffic to its new audiovisual web slideshows grow to 4,000 visits in its launch month.
At the end of December, picture editor David Berman began using software called Soundslides which is being used widely in America. Developed by American photojournalist Joe Weiss, it displays a series of high-quality still photographs of an event which are synchronised with background sound clips and music.
Stories on the Advertiser's site include a local rugby match with atmospheric sounds recorded throughout the game from the pitch side, the precarious future of a local record shop facing competition from eBay with the shop owner's commentary and a children's dance class with the children's voices dubbed over sounds and music from their classes.
Berman said: "We're really surprised about how quickly it has taken off; we have a phenomenal growth on the site. "People, particularly in the sporting community, come up to me and say how much they like the slides. I know the BBC is using the software, but I don't know if other local or regional newspapers are."
Berman captures audio using a recording device which plugs into his iPod. The pictures are imported into the Soundslides software as jpeg files and the audio is then edited to match the images. Soundslides converts the audio visual package into Macromedia Flash files and the HTML needed to display the Flash files. It then exports the folder which you can upload to your web server.
A maximum of 40 JPEG images can be used for each story and captions can be added.
Berman added: "The whole process does take quite a long time. I've been doing it on my Mac. Editing sound is a whole new ball game.
"Shooting photographs takes about an hour and a half from leaving the office, shooting the pictures, getting back to the office, downloading it and getting it in the system. "We've worked out that getting the sound slides up on the website takes around four and a half hours. Your shoot time is longer because you need enough decent pictures, as well as time to edit the sound."