The slideshow done by the New York Times is a more personal story than might otherwise be able to be told with video. This is achieved through a combination of techniques. First, the pictures taken by a Times photographer embedded with the unit are not all crystal-clear – some are blurry or out of focus. This gives the effect that the images we are looking at reflect what a real soldier might see and feel; war is not always as clean as civilians back home might think. The soldiers’ voice overs combined with the natural background sound immerse the viewer in the environment. Finally, the jarring sound of the gunfire and ensuing battle really make the viewer feel as if the battle is happening right in front of them.
This slideshow is a compact example of how to deliver an audio-visual experience that engages a viewer. It is often difficult to relate a story about war to an audience an ocean away, but this piece comes very close to accomplishing that. I feel this slideshow even possibly does a better job of portraying a battle scene than video might; because we are not constantly focusing on movement and motion, we pay more attention to the still images and, more importantly, the sounds of the ambush and the soldiers’ voices.
The slideshow also packs an emotional punch, and this is not limited to those who have either experienced war and know somebody that has served and/or is currently serving in the military. It is chock-full of human emotions that transcend time or space: camaraderie and the loss of someone close to you. This story could just as easily have been about a soldier’s death in World War II, or even the loss of a good friend in a car accident. Irreversible loss is the message of the slideshow, and it’s delivered in an indelible way.