Making a Slide Show That Looks Good in a Time Crunch

For those who just want to grab the applications and go try out PictoMio and Picasa, and make sure you are running on a Microsoft platform.  Linux users are in the cold on this project.  Sure, there ways of doing this on Linux, but nothing as quick as the apps listed above.

The requirments for this project were as follows:

  1. Build a slideshow in less than an hour
  2. Incorporate the Ken Burns transition to keep the audience’s attention
  3. Incorporate video clips in between some of the slides
  4. Play audio during the presentation

When in this situation last year, I used PictoMio and found it a great application to use.   Transitions could be changed midstream, and timings could be altered on a per-picture basis.  The application was unstable at the time and it left a sour taste.  Slideshow applications cannot have instability.  When you’re the tech guy running the projector, the last thing you want is 100 people looking at you after a application crash.

When I was in this situation yesterday, I turned to Picasa.  The biggest reason for this is that I knew it would display slides without crashing.  Picasa packs a lot of features that I didn’t expect and ended up using often.

The two tools that helped the most where the automatic red-eye correction and contrast/color correction.  A lot of the photos benefited from these tools.  It added immensely to the overall quality of the show.

The slideshow aspect of Picasa is horribly limited.  The trick to getting the Ken Burns effect in Picasa is to use the movie maker.

There are a couple of limitations to the movie maker;  only one transition effect can be chosen and only one slide duration can be chosen, and songs will not loop for the duration of the photos.   To more than compensate for this, Picasa offers a few features that will enhance the slide show.

Text slides can be added in-between picture to convey information to the audience.  There’s nothing like a good setup for a funny picture.   Picasa does well with integrating video.  Putting video in the middle of a slideshow is simple to do and works pretty well.   There is, unfortunately, a 2 second delay after the video where the screen is black.  This appears to be the point where a transition would’ve been occuring.

I had to do the video in preview mode.  There wasn’t enough time to encode and run it as a video file.   In preview mode, the videos were choppy.  It probably ran at a 20 fps rate.  This didn’t ruin the show, but it dropped my perfection goal a touch.

It is the day after the show.  I wanted to replicate the work on my Linux workstation and create the DVD.  However, the Linux version of Picasa is disappionting with regards to video.  Making this a non-starter.  I have to hop on my soapbox and again proclaim that catch 22 that Linux is in;  user won’t use Linux due to lack of applications and funcationality, applications and functionality won’t come to Linux due to lack of users.  Of course, that is improving, but it’s sure is slow goings.

Overall, using Picasa to do the show exceeded my expectations.  Compliments from the audience abounded.  I am currently creating the video file to burn to a DVD to meet all of the requests I recieved for an encore.

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