Nov
28

Author:

ProShow Black Friday Sale is Here

ProShow Black Friday Sale

Our Black Friday sale is here! Get 20% off everything at www.photodex.com including ProShow software and upgrades, ProShow Web subscriptions, and our entire FX collection. Use the code ‘BLACKFRIDAY14‘ to get instant savings. Sale ends at midnight on Monday, December 1, 2014.

Now’s a great time to upgrade to ProShow 6 or stock up on any Effects Packs you’ve had your eye on. Not sure which pack to get? Transition Pack 2 and Effects Pack 6 continue to amaze and impress ProShow users around the world with their innovative new styles and effects. Browse our entire FX collection here and watch demos of each exciting pack to see how you can add instant excitement to your ProShow slideshows!

 

Nov
26

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Quick Tip: Create a Wizard Theme Automatically in ProShow 6

ProShow’s Wizard feature is an easy way to make a quick slideshow of your photos and videos without having to manually apply slide styles and transitions.  Just insert your photos, titles, videos and music, then pick a theme and ProShow will do the rest. The resultant slideshow may need a few tweaks here and there before you’re finished, but in almost all cases you’ll end up saving yourself a lot of time.

Still, some users prefer to start from scratch and build their show by inserting an image, applying an effect and repeating the process until finished.  There are several reasons for this. Perhaps they have a show that is precisely timed to the beat of their music tracks. Often times, however, they find that the Wizard doesn’t apply the effects that they prefer to use the most frequently.

Today I’m going to show you a new feature in version 6 of ProShow Gold and ProShow Producer that allows you to generate a new theme automatically based on a slideshow you’ve already created.

Creating a Custom Wizard Theme

  1. First load a show that you’ve already created, preferably one that contains slide styles and transitions that you use frequently.
  2. Go to the Tools menu at the top of ProShow and click Manage Effects.
    ManageEffects
  3. In the Effects window click on the “Themes” tab at the top right.
    ThemesTab
  4. Click the Create button at the bottom of the window
    CreateButton
  5. In the “Create a New Theme” window, give it a name and check the box “Use the effects in the current show”.  Click OK.
    CustomTheme
  6. In the Edit Theme window, you can further refine your theme by adding/removing certain effects according to your taste. Otherwise, just press Apply and your theme will be created.

Note: Your theme might need to be augmented with slide styles from the “Captions & Titles” category if the show you used as your basis did not include any caption styles. Failure to do so may mean that your Wizard theme may not apply styles to captions. Likewise, you’ll want to make sure your theme has styles appropriate for landscape, portrait and square images, since many styles are applied according to image orientation.

Using Your New Theme In The Wizard

After you’ve created a new theme, you can now use it when you start a new show in the Wizard.  Just go to File > New Show from Wizard, then follow the steps with adding your images/videos, titles, and music. On “Step 3: Theme”, choose the new theme you created above. Click Next and ProShow will work its magic.

WizardTheme

Even if you don’t use the Wizard to start your shows, you can always select a handful of slides in your current show and use the “Remix” feature to automatically apply styles and transitions based on your custom theme.  To this, select a group of slides (click on the first slide, then hold the shift key and click on the last slide) and choose “Remix Selected Slides with Wizard” from the Slide menu.

RemixSelectedSlides

Hopefully this quick tip will help you create slideshows in your own personal style without having to start your show from scratch and orchestrate every detail. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Nov
21

Author:

Creating Dynamic Video Slideshows on the Road with ProShow

Today’s guest post comes from photographer Rob Knight.

I led my sixth photo workshop in Costa Rica this past September. I decided to expand the trip from my usual seven day-six night schedule to a full nine days and eight nights. The extra two days allowed the group to relax and enjoy more shooting and instruction.

I held a contest at the end of the workshop to see who could come up with the most dynamic ProShow slideshow. I was not surprised that the best show was created by Kathy Veitch. Kathy has been a student of mine for several years and this was her fourth trip to Costa Rica with me! She won a one-year pro subscription to ProShow Web courtesy of my amigos at Photodex.

I thought I would share some of my tips for using ProShow Web for creating slideshows on the road:

  1. Create multiple short slideshows for a long trip. If you take a long trip that’s focused on
    photography you will probably want to come home with lots of great images and videos. Resist the urge to put ALL of your favorites into one long slideshow. Instead create several “episodes” that feature content from different events, locations, etc. during the trip. If you use YouTube you can create a playlist to keep all of the episodes together so that your viewers can find all of the related slideshows in one place.

  2. Plan your slideshows in advance. Usually I create ProShow Web slideshows by organizing content I have already captured, but sometimes it’s fun to go out with a specific show in mind. You don’t need to have a script or anything, just an idea of a story that you want to tell using a series of images and/or videos. Think of it as an animated photo essay.
  3. Use text overlays to inform your viewers. ProShow Web makes it easy to create attractive title pages to let folks know what your slideshows are about. You can go as simple or elaborate as you like, but titles can add context to your slideshow and let your viewers know what to expect.
  4. Include video clips in addition to your still photographs. Pretty much every camera shoots video these days. I find that including a few video clips in a slideshow adds a lot to the dynamic feel of the finished show. I generally use clips around ten seconds long. If the clips are much longer they slow the pace of the show. Clips that are shorter than ten seconds are barely on the screen long enough to make much of an impact.
  5. Upload your content over night. If you travel a lot you know it can be a challenge to find decent internet service, and Costa Rica is certainly no exception. It can be very frustrating to upload several images and videos to ProShow Web via a slow connection. In order to avoid the frustration I usually set up my upload before I go to bed in the evening. That way I don’t worry about how long it takes and by morning my content is uploaded and ready to go. Once the content is in ProShow Web a slow connection is not as much of a problem because you are not moving large chunks of data back and forth.

ProShow Web is a great way to share your travel photography in a dynamic and entertaining way. With a few tips and a little practice you can create great slideshows on the road in no time!

 

Nov
19

Author:

Optimize Your TV and DVD Player For Best Playback Quality

tvqualityheader

Since we’re nearing the holiday season, chances are that you’ll be spending time with family and maybe even sharing your slideshow creations with them too. For me, this also happens to be the time when I realize how poorly set up some of my family members’ TV sets are. Whether it’s watching “stretch-o-vision” at my parents’ house or watching a DVD on a player that’s hooked up with a video cable standard from the 80s, it can be a little hard to resist the urge to try and improve their technology rather than spending time with them.

There can be many points of potential quality loss in your slideshow viewing setup. The factory settings on your TV, for example, are usually not the best. Your DVD or Blu-ray player can also be hooked up or set up in a less than optimal way. And finally, your DVD output settings may not be optimal for your slideshow. Today I’m going to show you how to make sure that your slideshows look as good as they can on your television.

DVD Settings

When creating a DVD in ProShow Gold or ProShow Producer, there are several options that can determine how good your slideshows look. In the Options tab of the Create DVD window, look for the following options:

  • DVD Type: This determines what bitrate is used on your DVD, which in turn determines the overall quality of the video. To get the most quality and compatibility on your disc, choose “DVD HQ (High Quality – Safe)”. There is a tradeoff between the quality you set and the amount of video that can fit on a disc – High Quality Safe gives you roughly an hour – so if you have more than an hour total, consider buying a dual-layer DVD+R DL disc or spanning your project over multiple standard-capacity discs.  On the other hand, “DVD SP (Standard Play)” will give you 2 hours on a standard DVD and is not necessarily a huge trade-off in quality.
  • TV System: This will default to NTSC, which is the standard for North America, Central America, some of South America, and Japan. Please see this wiki article to see if you should be changing this to PAL. Failure to choose right video standard could mean poor playback performance or that your DVD simply does not play in your player.
  • Anti-Flicker: This option has a pretty significant effect on your DVD quality, but the setting you choose will largely be dependent on what type of slideshow you’re creating. Slideshows with mostly still images and still text will see a noticeable improvement in sharpness by unchecking anti-flicker.  On the other hand, if your images are doing lots of panning, zooming, and rotating and you have crisp text with motion, you’ll likely want to keep this checked to prevent distracting flickering on the DVD. For context, anti-flicker applies a slight blur to the video to counteract the vertical flickering that is inherent in interlaced video.
  • Desaturation: This option is largely a legacy concern for older tube televisions, though if your HDTV’s colors are oversaturated, it can be useful here as well. Still, I find unchecking the Desaturation option to be the most appropriate setting for a well-calibrated HDTV.
  • Video Clip Quality: This option determines the scaling method for the elements in your show when creating the DVD video stream. When choosing “High Quality” the benefits are often not noticeable and the rendering time is increased significantly. Choose High Quality if you’d like, but I tend to leave this setting on Normal.

DVDsettings

DVD / Blu-ray Player

The DVD player itself is where I notice most people lose quality. The DVD player you bought in the late 90s or early 2000s probably still works, so there’s no need to upgrade it, right?  Actually, many of the early DVD players were made for tube televisions, and they may be making your DVDs look worse than they should on your HDTV.

The type of cable that’s used to connect your player to your TV is very important. If possible, make sure your player is hooked up via HDMI, or perhaps component cables (red, green, and blue video cables with red and white audio cables). Hooking up via S-video or Composite (yellow video cable with red and white audio cables) is going to make your DVDs look bad. If your DVD player only has Composite or S-Video, it’s time to think about getting a new DVD player or Blu-ray player. A Blu-ray player should have both HDMI output and 1080p upscaling, so this is the safest bet, even if you are only going to play DVDs on it.

cablecomparisonchart

The settings on the DVD player can also have an effect on the quality you see on your TV. Here are some general guidelines:

  • If your DVD player supports upconverting to 1080i or 1080p, make sure this is enabled. You will at least need component or HDMI for this feature to work correctly (or at all).
  • Make sure your DVD player is set up for the right type of television. In your player’s setup menu, you’ll likely be able to choose whether you have a widescreen 16×9 television or a 4×3 television. Assuming you have an HDTV, set it to 16×9.
  • If there’s a progressive scan option, enable it.  This will not work if you are using composite (yellow, red, and white) connections.

 

Your Television

An HDTV exhibiting horizontal stretching and overscan

There are a few options on modern HDTVs that are on by default that negatively affect your viewing experience. Here are some things to check for:

  • Overscan: To hide bad areas at edges of analog broadcasts and video sources, many TVs will zoom the picture in slightly.  This means that your DVD slideshows are going to be cut off. I always recommend turning off the overscan, but the proper way to do this is different on every TV. Your best best is to do a Google search for ‘Turn off overscan on [your brand or model] TV’.
  • Aspect ratio: When viewing analog or 4×3 sources, some viewers quickly reach for the remote to zoom or – gasp – stretch the video so that it fills the screen. While this is largely a matter of preference, many users forget to turn it back to the appropriate aspect ratio setting when they’re on a 16×9 source.  If you have an aspect ratio or picture size button on your TV remote, press it and make sure it’s set to “Normal” rather than Wide or Stretch.
  • Sharpening: Sharpening is almost always a destructive option, and it’s usually enabled to some degree on HDTVs. Note that sharpness cannot actually be added, it can only be approximated – often poorly – by the TV’s software. Look in your picture settings and turn this down, if not all the way down.
  • Motion Smoothing: A common feature on TVs with 120hz or 240hz refresh rates is motion smoothing. This feature takes whatever signal you have coming in, then creates new video frames between the existing frames via interpolation. The problem is that it’s impossible to do this correctly, and so there are going to be side effects like the occasional jerk or loss of fluidity compared to the rest of the time. Not to mention, it gives many videos an unnaturally smooth look. Your favorite movie may look like a soap opera with this option enabled. You’ll need to figure out what this feature is called on your TV – see this article – and find out how to turn it off either via the owners manual or a Google search.

Hopefully these tips will help you get the most out of your setup. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Nov
17

Author:

Gifting Goes a Long Way to Maintain Client Relationships

Gifts, like custom slideshows, go a long way for client relationship building.

Rangefinder magazine’s November issue features a wonderful article about the benefits of giving gifts to your photography clients as a way to maintain relationships and grow new ones. They feature 10 great gift ideas and real-life examples of each one. You can read the full article here.

ProShow slideshow software is highlighted as the tool-of-choice for making custom slideshows to gift to clients and plays an important role in photographer Laura Endres Hicks’ business. Laura presents a slideshow at the end of an ordering session to long time clients as a surprise gift.

“It doesn’t matter how much they order,” she explains, “it’s a relationship gift; my personal business model is built on relationships and maintaining them.” Hicks will pick about 20 to 30 of her favorite images (40 to 50 for weddings) and create what she views as “an artistic view of the session-not just a recap.” The slideshow “can be shared among family and friends; it keeps going and going.” Hicks says an hour of her time is a small investment for that kind of exposure, branding and marketing.

Do you offer your clients a gift as a ‘thank you’? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

Nov
14

Author:

FAQ Friday: Top ProShow Questions and Answers

ProShow Frequently Asked Questions

The top 5 most buzzed about topics and questions about making video slideshows withProShow. These come directly fromProShowusers just like you and are collected by our customer service team every other week! Read the round-up below to see what people are curious about this week.

    1. How many computers can I run ProShow on? 
      A single license can be installed on up to (2) personal computers (desktop, laptop, or tablet) at the same time. If you require additional installations you may want to consider purchasing another license or look into purchasing a site license for ProShow. For more information on this topic or to learn more about site licensing or educator pricing, click here.
    2. Where did my folders go inside the folder list, I only see ‘ProShow’ listed at the top?
      This can happen when the entire folder tree is collapsed in the folder list. To fix this issue you need to expand the folder list by double-clicking ProShow at the top. This will expand all your folders so you can easily drag + drop content into your show. Folder List
    3. How do I add the slide number to all slides at one time?
      In ProShow, double-click the first slide in your show to open Slide Options. Click the ‘+’ icon under the Captions list on the left to add a caption and then type in the following text macro ‘ \p ‘ to add the slide number to this slide. The last thing we need to do is make the caption global. Under the Caption Settings tab, locate Caption Setup on the bottom-right and check the Appears on every slide checkbox. Now your slide number caption should appear on all slides in your show. For more information on using Text Macros, click here.
    4. How do I loop my DVD published from ProShow?
      On the DVD Menu, navigate to the Loop All option when playing your DVD. Select Loop All using your DVD player remote and this will tell  your player to loop your DVD until you manually stop playback. If this option is missing from your DVD menu, you may need to publish your DVD from ProShow again. Make sure your menu is setup to include the loop all option by going to the Menu tab under the DVD publishing window and toggling the Layout drop down menu from its current selection to ‘One Thumbnail Center’. This should restore the Loop All option on your menu.Menu - Loop All
    5. Where can I find royalty free music online?
      There are many resources available online for royalty free music. It’s important to remember to use properly licensed music especially when publishing your show online. Some of our top choices are Shockwave Sound and Triple Scoop Music . For more information on royalty free music resources, click here.

If you are looking for an all-in-one slide show creation tool that includes a built-in library of royalty free music, we suggest you tryProShow Web. ProShow Web includes over 380 royalty free tracks and is free to use, Click here to sign up.

Want to submit a question about making video slideshows with ProShow? Please ask a question in the comments below and we’ll get back with you right away!

 

Nov
12

Author:

Proofing Your DVD Slideshow Before Burning to Disc


Proof Your DVDs Before Burning to Disc

No matter how cheap blank DVD media gets, it’s always a bit defeating to throw away a disc after realizing the DVD you’ve just created isn’t quite perfect. Perhaps your disc menu doesn’t look exactly like you want it, or maybe you used the wrong image in a particular spot in your show – either way, you now have to re-render and burn another disc. I’ve always felt it’s a good idea to have a rewritable DVD-RW disc around for instances like these, but those discs have slower write speeds, which can make testing out your DVD a longer process than it needs to be.

Fortunately, both ProShow Gold and ProShow Producer allow you to skip the disc writing process and create an ISO image file. This file contains the entire DVD disc structure, and with the right software, you can use this to proof your final product before you actually commit to a disc. There are several ways to do this, but today I’ll be focusing on using the free VLC media player.

Creating an ISO image file in ProShow Gold or Producer

When you’re in the Create DVD window, click on the Burning tab at the top. The “Disc Writer” option will show the name of your burner by default. Click this box and choose “ISO Image File” instead. Next, click the Create button at the bottom as you normally would. When prompted, choose a save location for the ISO image file; you can choose the same folder in which you saved your slideshow. Once it’s created, now you’ll need a way to view this ISO file.

CreateISOFile

VLC Media Player

VLC is a free multimedia player that supports playback of almost all common video and audio formats. It also supports playing both DVD discs and DVD ISO image files. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Download the software here: http://www.videolan.org/
  2. During the installation, you’ll be given the option to make VLC the default media player for certain file types. I prefer to use the original media players for most formats, so I like to set it up by choosing the “Minimum” configuration then checking the “Context Menus” box” at the bottom of the list.
    VLCSetup
  3. Once installed, open the VLC player by clicking on either the desktop shortcut or the Start Menu entry that it creates.
  4. By default, the player is not fully optimized for DVD playback, so we’re going to change a few of the playback options. Go to Tools > Preferences, then click on the Video section on the left. We’re going to uncheck “Use hardware YUV->RGB conversions”, then set the Deinterlacing to “Automatic” and the Mode to “Bob”.
    VLCsettings
  5. Click the Save button at the bottom of the Preferences window, then close and reopen VLC player.
  6. From VLC’s Media menu, choose “Open File”, then find the ISO image file you created with ProShow.

You should now be able to play your full DVD in VLC player and make sure it’s set up just like you want it.

One thing that is important to note is that menu highlights will disappear after 5 seconds in VLC, even though the areas are still clickable/selectable. When the menu loops (typically 30 seconds), the highlights will be restored.

Burning Your ISO File

If you’ve proofed your ISO file and want to go ahead and burn your slideshow to disc, you can easily burn the ISO file without having to go back into ProShow. For Windows 7 or Windows 8 users, simply right click the ISO file and choose “Burn disc image”. This will bring up Windows Disc Image Burner. All you have to do next is click the Burn button.

BurnDiscImage

If you’re using Windows XP or Vista, Windows Disc Image Burner is not going to be available, but there are other free options. Instructions for using the free ImgBurn application can be found here.

 

TIPS

  • If you’d prefer to watch your DVD in Windows Media Player or any other player, you will need to mount your ISO file as a virtual disc first. This can be done with Virtual CloneDrive, Daemon Tools Lite, MagicISO, and various other programs.
  • Unchecking “Use hardware YUV->RGB conversions” in VLC’s preferences works around a problem with Nvidia graphics card drivers that makes some videos look washed out, however, performance may suffer after it’s unchecked. It may be better to leave the option checked in VLC and address the problem in your Nvidia Control Panel instead (see this post).

How-To + Tutorials

Optimize Your TV and DVD Player For Best Playback Quality

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Since we’re nearing the holiday season, chances are that you’ll be spending time with family and maybe even sharing your slideshow creations with them too. For me, this…

FAQ Friday: Top ProShow Questions and Answers

Friday, November 14, 2014

The top 5 most buzzed about topics and questions about making video slideshows withProShow. These come directly fromProShowusers just like you and are collected by our customer service…

Proofing Your DVD Slideshow Before Burning to Disc

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

No matter how cheap blank DVD media gets, it’s always a bit defeating to throw away a disc after realizing the DVD you’ve just created isn’t quite perfect….

Capturing Still Frames in ProShow Producer

Monday, November 10, 2014

If you’ve ever wanted a jpeg image of a slide you have created, the Still Frame Capture option is for you. With this tool you can capture any…