Build interactive Flash collages with Vuvox

Vuvox is a tool for creating interactive scrolling photo collages with rollover hotspots that feature additional text or video.

One of my staff’s goals this year is to bring the same variety of storytelling models to the web that they offer in print. That means exploring a lot of new tools that make online interactivity much easier than it used to be (back in the good ol’ Adobe Flash Action Script coding days). As they do this, I’m asking them to share the tools and their process in a series of short Q&A posts. If your staff experiments with one of these or another online multimedia tool, please share.

1. Which multimedia tool did you use?

Vuvox (www.vuvox.com)

2. What does it do?

Vuvox lets you put together a photo collage, complete with “hotspots” you can mouse over.

3. What story did you use it for, and why did you choose this particular tool for this story?

I used it to make an online photo collage. (elestoque.org/2012/10/07/special/mvhs-25-objects/) We chose Vuvox because we needed a photo-aggregating medium for the particular story we had in mind – and we really liked the idea of interactive hotspots, which distinguished Vuvox from other collage-making programs. In our case, we used Vuvox’s hotspot capabilities to add audio captions for some of the pictures, which we thought added extra flair.

4. What did you find the tool does well (what worked)?

One of the cool features Vuvox has is the option to create cutouts of pictures. Much like in Photoshop, Vuvox lets you cut out and isolate certain parts of the picture. You can then place these cutouts next to other pictures so that they meld into each other – it’s great for creating a flowing, seamless effect. I was also really impressed with the hotspots, as there’s a remarkably wide range of multimedia you can add to each hotspot: video, audio, text, etc. I thought overall the hotspots made Vuvox a great platform for multimedia.

5. What were your frustrations with the tool (what didn’t work, or at least didn’t work as you’d hoped)?

It’s very difficult to rearrange the picture sequence in Vuvox. Resizing even one picture would cause a ripple effect and force me to adjust manually all of the pictures around that one photo, which was really time-consuming. I also found out that you can’t edit anything after you’ve uploaded it onto Vuvox, so if you need to crop a picture or something, you should do it beforehand to save yourself a lot of hassle. In addition, if you want to create audio hotspots, you first have to upload the audio as a video and then add that “audio video” as the actual hotspot. This per se wasn’t that annoying, but then I realized that every time I saved, closed, and re-opened the collage, all the audio hotspots would disappear, and I would have to re-add all of those hotspots. It might just be some weird in-program glitch, but just to be safe, I’d say that if you want your audio hotspots to appear, you should publish right after adding them in and saving – do not publish after closing the collage, or the audio might vanish again.

6. When might you recommend this tool to others?

I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to liven up a standard photo gallery. As mentioned, Vuvox is great for creating a very seamless flow to the pictures, so that’s fun to play with. In general, I’d say anyone who’s looking to incorporate as much multimedia as possible would enjoy using Vuvox. Just remember to edit before uploading onto the server. Also, decide on a sequence before doing anything, because it’s really annoying to shuffle things around after having already positioned all your pictures.

— Q&A with junior Jennifer Lee, El Estoque special report editor

Michelle Balmeo

Michelle Balmeo, MJE, is the adviser of The Whirlwind, a reemerging news publication at West Albany High School in Albany, Ore. For 11 years prior to relocating to Oregon, she advised a media staff in the Silicon Valley. In her career, she has been selected as CA Journalism Teacher of the Year, a JEA Rising Star, and a DJNF Distinguished Adviser. She was formerly the JEA Web Curriculum Leader.

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