Planning the route, routes or points of interestEdit

You will need to visit the area, talk with local people and get a map of the area showing the relationship of the points of interest. With this information you should be in a position to suggest some tour route options. The following is a check-list of the more easily overlooked points.
Check-list Gather all available existing material – Pamphlets, Walking Guides, Tourist Maps, Old Photographs, Newspapers etc. and don’t forget to check out the Internet. Visit the Sites along the tour route: check if...

  • The Points of Interest are still there?
  • What condition are they in?
  • Have they been defaced or broken?
  • Where are the Car Parks.. are they Free?
  • Is walking the best way to do the tour?
  • What direction makes sense?
  • Consider grade and surfaces – Uphill, Downhill or on the Flat Level or Rough and Bumpy? (See Walkingworld Grading system in Appendix A)
  • How long does or would the whole tour take?
  • What are the stage or section timings?
  • Which tour configuration suits best? - Start & Finish at the same place or a different place?
  • What about loops giving different options? An 8 shaped route starting from the cross over and giving four options, or a 6 shaped route that ends or starts with a circular route, or the most simple an 0 route of a simple circle? Of course the 1 route is A>B or B>A.

Timings and routes should take account of the Opening Times or Days when points of interest are open or when specialist guided tours start.
Remember refreshment stops and comfort breaks, AM, Midday and PM.
Minimise carrying distances for souvenirs.
Remember to discuss timings and limitations as mentioned in the opening paragraph.
The following are examples of how maps can be presented. These include oblique aerial artists impressions as well as conventional sketch maps. Be sure to check any artist’s copyright issues though before using material.
The following is an interactive map with hotspots designed for use on a PC

It is an example of an artist produced aerial view with ‘numbered hotspots’ (However, with this level of detail it needs to be printed at A3 size to be easily readable)
Below is an example of a linear Waterfront Walk produced by Audissey. Note the parking & restroom markers as well as the public transport links.

Planning the scriptEdit

The first step is to decide how many 'stops' or 'stations' your tour will have. The best way to do this is to go around with an experienced tour guide. The guide will know which items are of general interest and which are for the specialist. Don't try to mix the specialist and general elements in a single tour or you will please no one.

Writing the scriptEdit

Use an Audio Script template that will ensure your spacing and layout is easy to read and all the necessary technical info, approvals and copyrights are noted.
Try to break the task of writing the script down into manageable pieces and use separate documents for each piece. For example:-

  • Music fade in… Introduction & legals - refer to map Tour description (and how to use it - circular, sequential etc.) and overview
  • First point on map
  • Second point etc.. etc..
  • Last point on Map
  • Close out… Thank you .. if you have enjoyed our tour… End piece.. This tour was produced by …. Closing credits .. music fade out.

You can then write the scripts for each stop on the tour separately which can then be individually recorded. They can then be assembled into the completed tour using the Audacity PC audio editing software.

Designing Commentary Loops for Continuous PlayingEdit

In some locations you may wish to 'broadcast' a continuous commentary. This is common where an audio 'loop' is played over speakers or via very low power FM radio from a fixed point. A commentary loop is a short 2-3 minute piece that is played in a continuous 'loop'.
The script is designed so that the audience can start listening at any point in the commentary. This means that the traditional 'Hello' welcome is not used.
However, this convenience of continuous play comes at a price. It is important to ensure that your Legal and Advisory script is either always heard in the previous track or is part of the visual notice at the commentary broadcast point.
To create the continuous loop the script is divided into 20-30 second 'statements of fact' that are linked in a relevant sequence.
If the subject or topic has a chronological or 'with the passage of time' structure it is possible to script the items in chronological order. Those listening will hear about the topic but may not be starting at the earliest time. This is not usually a problem – the 'jump back in time' can be handled with a suitable link phrase like:-
“Having heard about (subject or topic) in modern times lets go back in time to the early 12th Centuary when .....”</br> This device allows a listener to join a commentary at any point and still to feel informed.
When the topic does not lend itself to a chronological treatment and when the place has defined boundaries like a room, a small square or a gallery it is possible to progress 'around the room'. The key here is to begin each 20-30 second segment with a clearly identifiable description of what the listener should be looking at. An example would be:-
“If you look at the large wooden doors of the church you will see the inscription above....”
The next item will be physically adjacent to the previous one and the listener then views the items of interest sequentially for convenience.

If the points of interest require the listener to walk away from a 'central' viewing point or round a perimeter path then be sure that there are paths or walking access 'across the centre of the square'. If the physical tour is designed to be sequential, even though it may be around a courtyard perimeter, you will find it nearly impossible to use the continuous loop approach.

Recording the scriptEdit

There are several options depending upon whether the recording is a single voice, with or without effects (FX) and music, or almost a short audio play with characters and dialogue.
If you are going to do some short audio with characters try to get all the scenes recorded at one time.. whilst all your voices are present.... there is nothing more annoying than having to hold up production until a voice returns from holiday.

Editing and assembling the audio materialEdit

Assuming that your Audio Editing software of choice is the Open Source Audacity software discussed in the technical section of this guide you should begin by doing one of the many online tutorials. One of the best I have seen is by Jason Van Orden and can be found at the following web site.


Choosing the picturesEdit

Linking pictures into audio tours is still a fairly new phenomena. It uses the picture tag system originally designed at 'Cover Art' for music tracks.
Since it is currently only possible to link a single picture with a single MP3 track you need to decide whether it is to be a navigation picture or an information picture. A navigation picture will provide the viewer with a recognisable view that orientates where they should be looking and if the picture includes an arrow (see next section) will tell them where to go next.
Depending on whether the picture is 'tight' or 'wide' an information picture may also have navigation benefits. In any case an info picture will let the viewer see something that the might otherwise miss or is maybe too high up or far away to see clearly.

Adding perspective arrows to the picturesEdit

The example below shows a picture into which an arrow has been pasted to indicate where to go.
The software used is the Open Office Draw module. This allows you to load a picture from file and paste an arrow onto the picture. It can the be re-saved, including the arrow, as a .JPG picture. In order to make the direction indicated by the arrow as clear to the viewer as possible it is best to 'tilt' the arrow so that it appears to have been painted on the ground or in the case below, just above the ground. In order to do this you will need some practice and a degree of trial and error. The secret is to understand a little about 'vanishing points' which are the places in a perspective picture where all lines meet. If you point the arrow at the appropriate vanishing point it will appear to be a part of the picture. The picture on the next page is an example.
The first step in this process is to choose tour arrow shape from the arrow tool button at the bottom of the screen. Having chosen your arrow type you then draw a 2D arrow flat on top of the picture. Next double click and the turquoise blue spots 'drag buttons' appear around the image. Use these drag buttons to roughly orient the arrow in the desired direction and to size the arrow appropriately.
Now for the next step, right click on the arrow and a menu appears – select 'Convert' and the 'To 3D' option.
You now have a 3D arrow that you can pull, twist and change its perspective. The drag buttons have changed to green and you can see some depth in the arrow.
This 'gun sight' can be moved to alter the perspective or vanishing point of the arrow. You should position the 'gun sight' at the right or left vanishing point of the underlying picture depending on which direction the arrow will point. This will allow you to position the arrow appropriately.
Trying to get your arrow into the right place facing the right way and with realistic looking perspective is rather like juggling with cooked spaghetti but I promise that if you practice you will be able to position and size arrows after maybe about ten minutes of frustration. Each time you do it it gets easier.
By the way, if the arrow looks too chunky you can adjust its thickness using the 3D effects menu and adjusting depth to 0.01cm.

Adding the pictures to the audio trackEdit

Using the ID3TagIT software mentioned in the technical section you can attach a JPG picture to a particular MP3 track. It will only be visible if the playback device has a screen. Otherwise it will playback as normal audio. Try to edit the picture into a square format so that it views in both landscape and portrait devices.

A folded handout for those who can't view pictures on their MP3 playerEdit

If your tour relies upon the listener being able to view the pictures then you should offer a folded picture handout as described earlier in the guide. This can be compiled using the Open Office Write package and should include a clearly over printed number on each picture indicating to which track it refers. You can use the same pictures as you use in the tour with the addition of a track number overprinted in one corner.
Having prepared the sheet you can export it in PDF format which is universally printable and is one of the most accepted format for leaflets and brochures.
Try folding a blank A4 or Letter size sheet of paper to get the best size and layout for you handout. The sheet can be easily folded into eight and this takes the 6cm by 8cm PDA screen format comfortably. It you can print 'double sided' it gives you the possibility of 16 pictures on a single sheet which is enough for a quite substantial audio-tour.


This format is appropriate for walking tours but is NOT suitable for driving tours – even if you have a co-driver, as it is too small to read comfortably in a moving vehicle. Driving tour handouts should be no smaller that 4 to a sheet and should contain strongly worded warning advising against reading the handout whilst driving a vehicle or riding a bicycle.

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