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Multimedia for Museums

On Tuesday 16 July 2013, 14 delegates from across the UK gathered in Oxford for a workshop on developing multimedia content for museums.  Delivered by Oxford University IT Services on behalf of Oxford ASPIRE, this free workshop was aimed at individuals with no experience of creating audio of video content.

The workshop was delivered by Stephen Eyre, a teacher at IT Services for over 3 years, after managing IT for the English Faculty.  He coordinates their online presence and digital media teaching, and uses digital media to promote both the IT Services Learning Programme, and his own work in experimental music, in which he is currently completing a PhD.


The aim of the day was to learn how to build multimedia using free tools, and give delegates an idea of the types of things they could create.  The workshop was also designed to be hands on, with delegates hopefully leaving with something relevant to their organisation which they produced themselves.


The first half of the day focussed on Audacity, a free programme for recording audio onto your computer. Stephen began by explaining how to use this relatively simple software, and then gave some top tips for editing audio:

  • Fade in the introduction: this is very useful to avoid a surprisingly loud signal from the start, and it allows the listener time to adjust to what they will be hearing

  • Edit coughs and other breaks in the flow of speech with care: people’s ears a very attuned to when conversation is disjointed, better to have a cough than an uneven break in the flow of conversation

  • Always archive your original audio recording before editing – you never know what use it may serve in the future!

Following this world wind tutorial, delegates were then invited to grab a PC and then either record some audio which they had previously scripted, or break into pairs and conduct brief interviews.  Delegates then edited their audio using Stephen’s tips, and exported their tracks as MP3s to use in the afternoon’s session.

Download Audacity.

Download a guide on using Audacity.

Movie Maker

In the afternoon the group looked at Movie Maker, not for editing film - for which the tool is probably too basic - but creating audio-slide shows, coupling audio with still images.  This can be a great way to create compelling multimedia content.  Today film is of such high quality that viewers have expectations, and are very aware when film is not up to standard.  It is difficult to create good film, especially of you don’t have the right equipment and lighting.  Consequently Stephen recommended that when recording items such as lectures, ditch the camera and make an audio recording, which can then be coupled with slides and other images – in this case audio is the most important content, and video of the speaker adds little, and can detract significantly if filmed poorly.

Stephen explained how to use the timeline function to import audio and images and create a coherent audio slide show, using the video effects and transition tools to create a smooth clip.  Delegates then had the opportunity to create their own audio slide shows using images they had brought with them, or stock images from Oxford’s collection.

Download a guide on making audio slide shows with Movie Maker

Stephen then showed delegates how to use Popcorn Maker to incorporate live links into their slide shows.

Check out this fantastic audio slide show on the creation of the Micrarium at the Grant Museum UCL.


At the end of the day discussion moved from creation to dissemination.  Stephen went through how to create a YouTube channel to host your content and uploading videos, as well as then embedding YouTube videos in your own site.  Stephen emphasised the importance of having your video on YouTube, and not just hosting it on your own site to ensure its searchability and visibility.  He also discussed the importance of including links to the film on your website, and asking partners to do the same, to ensure your video ranks highly in google searchers.

Feedback on the day was overwhelmingly positive, delegates finding the day extremely useful and inspirational, and particularly enjoying the hands on nature of the workshop and being able to create their own content on the day.

This workshop formed part of ASPIRE’s Digital Museums events strand.  Other events have included Social Media for Museums, and Living in the Digital World: Horizon Scanning for Museums.

Explore upcoming ASPIRE events on our Events Calendar.

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