We ended last time talking about creating your slideshow in presentation software like PowerPoint and distributing it to friends or family (or clients, for that matter) as a PowerPoint data file. What if your audience doesn’t have PowerPoint loaded on their computer? That’s easy. If they’re using Windows, suggest they go to Microsoft’s web site and download Microsoft’s free PowerPoint Reader. Mac users can view PowerPoint files using Apple’s Keynote presentation application.
Another way to display and distribute your digital dexterity is to export your slideshow into a movie format like QuickTime or Windows Media Video. There is, of course, a third major video format RealNetworks RealPlayer but it isn’t Real-Ly connected to an operating system and therefore you’re likely to have to create a QuickTime or Windows Media Video file first and then convert it to the Real format. Why bother?
Exporting to video gives you a lot of flexibility. You can choose to create video that will look great when played in full screen mode (at the expense of the resulting humongous file size), or opt for a smaller screen size and thence a file size that permits emailing or web viewing.
As I mentioned before, be sure to specify that you want the exported file to be a “stand alone” movie, with all the parts (images, music, and transitions) included in the final product. Next, you’ll need to set the screen size of the show. Here things can get tricky.
Computer video editors, when creating for standard television, use a movie size of 640 by 480 pixels, which is a 4-to-3 (shown as 4:3) ratio of width to height. If you decide to reduce the width or height of your show, make sure to do it proportionally. For example, if you decrease the width of a movie to 320 pixels, you would need to decrease the height to 240 pixels to maintain the 4:3 ratio. Any other sizes will result in a vertically or horizontally distorted movie, and won’t capture your show correctly. Your software may be able to automatically decrease the size proportionally as well.
Don’t be dismayed if it takes a while to turn your slideshow into a movie. Let’s say your slideshow is three minutes long, containing fifty photos separated by some cross-fade transitions, and you’re asking your software to shrink the photos down to fit a 320 by 240 pixel movie. Video is made up of 30 (well, actually, 29.97, but who’s counting) individual frames per second. So every photo must be shrunk, then duplicated around 150 times for its five seconds of screen life. Then, more frames are created as your software renders each transition, interleaving less of the preceding image over more of the subsequent image. So 180 seconds, at 30 frames per second, yields at least 5400 individual frames. This movie, after compression, will be at least 15 megabytes (MB) in physical size.
Remember, if your “delivery system” can handle it, you may not need to decrease the size of your slideshow movie at all. If you’re planning on sending the show on a CD that can hold a many-megabyte movie, by all means, do it!
Some slideshow programs can place the show on a DVD that can be viewed in full-screen wonder on any TV with any commercial DVD player. How do they do that? They do exactly what we’ve been talking about, except they export the movie in today’s industry-standard MPEG-2 DVD video format and add some navigation buttons to find your way around. Some also offer the option of including the images from the show in a folder on the DVD as well.
© 2005 Peter F. Zimowski