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Helpful Hints for a Better Show
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Helpful hints

Prepare for the best...

We want your slideshow presentation to be the best it can be. On this page you will find helpful tips to improve your show before you send us your order.

Having a theme for your slideshow

A great slideshow presentation is much more than a collection of photographs and videos. A show projects best when the material is related and used to tell the story you want your viewers to experience. For example, your vacation photos may have lots of photos of interesting scenic vistas, you and your family. If you want to show the fun you and your family had on your vacation, emphasis photos and video which show this and minimize, but don't exclude, your best scenic photos. Keep this in mind when deciding what pictures to include in your show. People are usually more interested in people than anything else.

Presentation format

We can produce your presentation in either standard NTSC 4:3 format or HDTV 16:9 format. We highly recommend the HDTV 16:9 format. Even if you still own a standard TV, the future is clearly high-definition TV. Standard 4:3 format televisions are no longer for sale. Your DVD or Blu-ray show is one you will want to keep for decades and maybe even pass down to your children. So, keep this in mind when you order your show.
HDTV format 16x9 HDTV format 4x3 STV format 4x3 STV format 16x9
HDTV 16:9 format HDTV 4:3 format
left & right bars displayed
NTSC 4:3 format
standard TV
NTSC 16:9 format
top & bottom bars displayed

Photo resolution

We can build your show from photos and videos of any resolution, but to really achieve a DVD or Blu-ray quality presentation, the higher the resolution the better. We target our presentation development for display on a fifty-five (55) inch high-definition television. That means a well focused photo losses no detail when viewed on this size screen.

To achieve this goal, we would like to receive photographs taken at four (4) megapixels setting, or higher, on your digital camera. However, pictures taken at one (1) megapixel have worked fine—just not quite the clarity we would like to see on a large screen. Ideally, if you are taking photos at eight (8) megapixels or greater, it offers us the flexibility to zoom in and out of selected photos up to 500% for some great special effects.

Equal time—let's not slight anyone

This is very important to remember when picking your photos or videos of special events where close friends, children and relatives are involved. Depending on the specific circumstance and event, you should chose carefully who will be in your presentation and how often they will appear.

For example, a wedding slideshow would obviously focus primarily on the bride and groom. Other key players would be the wedding party, parents, grandparents and relatives close to the bride and groom. Not everyone attending a large wedding should be considered for individual or small group shots. This is where it gets tricky. If you include too many guest shots your show may run too long and your audience may get bored. Its much better for an audience to wish the show was longer than to have them wondering if it will never end.

Slideshows about sibblings and people of equal stature in your relationships with them should be given equal show time. Try hard not to have a lot more pictures in your show of one child and not the others.

Death by slideshow—how timing is everything

While there may not be any reported cases of "death by slideshow", many a slideshow has produced a coma-like trance in a viewing audience. One of the main reasons why people create slideshows is to make their pictures more enjoyable to view and experience. Perhaps no one has been spared the agonizing trip down someone's extensive photo album. By page fifty, you're looking for the nearest exit.

Don't have your presentation inflect any pain or suffering. Avoid having shows that are too long and begin to bore or tire your audience. How long should it be? That's a hard question to answer. There are many factors that come into play, but here are some tips.

Special events: wedding, anniversaries, birthday parties, graduations and the like should run from six (6) minutes to thirteen (13) minutes long depending on the size of the event. The length of time is really dependent on the number of photos/videos you have that represent the different activities that are occuring at the event. For example, a child's birthday party where the birthday child is blowing out the candles on the cake could have two (2) to five (5) photos. A dozen pictures of this activity would certainly be too many. As a general rule of thumb, forty (40) to eighty (80) photos mixed with one or two video clips will more than fit the bill.

Vacations and multiple day events can incompass many different locations / activities. This may mean that you have hundreds of photos to show after you have made your final selections. This is far too many for most audiences to sit still for as your show could last thirty (30) to forty-five (45) minutes. Try and break your vacation and multi-day events into small standalong shows, each with its own start, middle and end. As shown below, you can still tie all these smaller shows together by including them on a single disc with a multiple chapter menu.

Helpful hints menu

About music

We have a library of over 140,000 music tracks that we have obtained a master rights license to use these music tracks for your slideshow. These tracks offer music suited for every type of slideshow presentation.

If you wish to send us music tracks to include in your slideshow, you will need to certify that you have obtained the required licenses or rights to include these tracks from the copywrite holders and/or publishers of the music.

Send extra photos

When we develop a presentation we try to balance the visuals with the music tracks included in the show. Our first consideration is that we have included all the photos and video clips you have requested to be in your show. Second, we work on timing the music tracks to the slides. This can be a challenge in finding the right music tracks for the timing and pacing of the slides.

By providing us with additional or optional photos and video clips, we have much more flexiblity in getting the timing of all these elements just right. Ideally, if we have an extra five (5) to seven (7) photos for a fifty (50) photo show or an extra seven (7) to eleven (11) photos for a seventy (70) photo show, this will be sufficient. You do not have to provide these extra photos or video clips, it just gives us more opportunity to make a better show.

When you send us your CD or DVD with your pictures and videos, just put all your must have items in one folder and optional items in another.

Photo and video editing

Whether you choose the Gold or Platinum package (see our Packages page), we provide basic color correction, red-eye removal, and contrast/brightness corrections as needed to your photos and video clips. So don't skip over those pictures that seem a little too dark or the flash has given everyone those "demon eyes". We can usually fix most of these problems. If we can't we will let you know and you can subsitute another photo or video clip.

For example, here's an actual photo submitted to us that we corrected to bring out more detail from a dark night shot.

helpful Hints Photo Editing helpful Hints Photo Editing

Using captions and narratives

Each slideshow presentation, Gold or Platinum, receives a title slide caption at the beginning of the show. Captions, short descriptive or long narrative text on a slide, should be used sparingly within you show. The main emphasis should be on the visual storytelling using your photos or videos.

In general, avoid using captions unless it is necessary to further the story you are trying to tell. Never use a caption to describe a visual the viewer can derive by simple looking at the visual. Describe things like what people are thinking or feeeling. For example, a photo of a sail boat off the Florida keys at sunset. Don't simply say "Sailing off the Keys", but rather, "A Moment of Perfection and Serenity". Describe interesting facts or your feeling in your captions that your audience cannot get simply by seeing the visual.

Longer narratives should be used even less in your show. Be certain that the narrative really adds to your show. Describing interesting facts about the visual in a couple of short sentences is fine. Just keep in mind that the longer your audience spends reading your captions and narratives, the less time they are viewing you photos and videos.

Choose the best picture format for your show

helpful Hints Portrait Photo
The photographer took this photo as a portrait. It is difficult to convert to a landscape image for the slideshow.
With most cameras you can take a picture either in landscape format or portrait format depending on how you hold the camera when you take a picture. When selecting photos for your presentation, the best pictures for us to work with are landscape format photos. If you have the same scene in both formats, the landscape scene is the best to send us. That is, all other things being more or less equal.

Usually it is very easy for us to transform a landscaped picture into a portrait, but a portrait shot is not easy to change into a landscape view. Remember, your show is formatted for widescreen presentation and portrait shots limit the ways in which we may use them in your show. But don't eliminate an important portrait shot if it is the only photo you have of that particular scene.

helpful Hints Landscape Photo
If you have a high enough resolution photo (see the "Photo Resolution" section), we can easily transform a landscape photograph into a portrait when it best suits the show presentation. The landscape picture on the left can be easily changed to a portrait photo for the special effects that we want to use it for in the slideshow.

Sizing and cropping photos

Please do not size or crop you photos that you send to us. If you want to have something or someone removed from a photo that is used in your show, please note this on your order form.

Using voiceover narration

Voice narration works well for describing interesting facts and your feelings about what the viewer is watching in your presentation. Depending on what you have to say, you can narrate certain sections of your show or the entire show. Voiceovers can be less distracting to the viewer than captions or long written narratives because they do not add to the visual complexity of your show.

We will build your show without voiceover narration first. When you preview your show, you can use the shows timing to record what you want to say. Rerun the presentation a couple of times until you get your voiceover exacting how you like it. Your final preview will include your recorded voiceovers.

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