Monday, October 8, 2012

How to make an Instagram Timeline slideshow, fast

Wouldn't it be nice to display a timeline of your pretty much any combination of  Instagram photos during a particular event in a way that most of the work is done for you?

Glad you asked, paragraph, because there is a way. And it's simple. The idea is to automate all your Instagram images, time and URL into a spreadsheet automatically to then repurpose that spreadsheet into an automatic timeline tool, leaving you pretty much the task of going out and covering your event.

Let's get to it:

What you need: A smartphone with Instagram (duh!); a Google account (for Drive, formerly Docs); and an Ifttt account.

You'll need an Ifttt (if this then that) recipe. The 'this' will be Instagram and the 'that' will be a Google Drive spreadsheet. I made a 'recipe' when every time you take a photo, it adds rows into a single spreadsheet in this order: Time, Caption, SourceUrl and Url. I've also added empty fields so that it matches the timeline template.

So you don't have to do one  (but you can change it and make your own if you want to):

1. Grab the recipe.  Turn it on.

2. Take photos with Instagram.

 Now for the timeline. What you're going to do is copy a template and repurpose it to your automatic spreadsheet to match it.

3. Visit   hit File formats and Google Doc Template.

4. Select your Google Drive account and hit continue. Copy the top row.

5. Visit your Google Drive (hit back to 'Google Drive' on top left if you are in the spreadsheet) and check out your new spreadsheet. There should be an IFTTT folder and an Instagram folder with an Instagram feed spreadsheet. Click on it.

6. Click on Insert and then Insert Row twice. Paste the descriptions. On Row two, add the date (MM/D/YYYY) and your timeline or event headline. On Column I (Type) add 'title'.

7. Clean the spreadsheet: Simply take 'at' out of the dates. They should reformat.

Your final spreadsheet should look like this.

8. Hit file, and Publish to Web. And copy the URL.

9. Visit  Hit Embed generator (1) and paste your URL (2). Hit preview to make sure everything works (3). Copy the embed code and paste it on your site (4).

The result?
Here's the sick part: Every time you take a photo, a line will be added to the spreadsheet (which auto-publishes every 5 minutes). All you (or your editor) have to do is take the 'at' from the date in the spreadsheet and the photo will appear in the timeline.

Why would you want to do this if you can post your Instagram photos to Tumblr or even Blogger?

Because they're all in one place and you can feed them to your own website.

But it gets better.

You can turn the recipe on and off at your pleasure, and you can make different recipes for specific events.  Here are your options, which can fit into a variety of news events.:

MOAR!: If you want to get really ambitious, you can actually feed videos, tweets, even Foursquare check-ins, Flickr photos and pretty much everything you want to the same spreadsheet. You'll have to make recipes that follow the  spreadsheet format, and you might have to add dates (for Youtube videos, for instance). But most of the timeline construction will be already done for you. I will be testing these options.

What do you think?