Sep
16

Author:

Using Dropbox and ProShow for Improved Slideshow Workflow

Using Dropbox with ProShow

If you’re looking for a great way to store, archive or share your photos or videos in the cloud, Dropbox may be a great solution for you. They recently added some pretty handy new features to their Pro service ($10/month), including more storage space (1TB), view-only shared folders and new security features. Check out some of the ways ProShow and Dropbox work together below.

Easy Importing into ProShow Slideshows

With ProShow Web, you can import content directly from your Dropbox account. No need to upload twice! Just click Add Content and select Dropbox.

With the Dropbox application loaded on your local computer, you can easily import your content into a ProShow Gold or ProShow Producer slideshow. The Dropbox folder shows up just like any other folder on your hard drive. From there you can select content and drag and drop directly into a new slideshow.

Collaboration and Sharing

When you’re building a show, Dropbox makes it easy to get images from clients, friends or family.

When you’re ready to share a final video, you don’t need to worry about burning a disc or mailing a flash drive. You can simply upload to Dropbox and invite your guests to download the video. This is really handy when you have shows that are too large for YouTube, need to remain super high quality (YouTube isn’t always the best), or when a video needs to remain private or offline.

One Central Location for Your Content

If you’re like me, you take tons of pictures! Sometimes I process them on my desktop, sometimes on my laptop and once in a while I get a great shot or two on my phone. With the Dropbox desktop and mobile apps, you can store your images and video in one central location in the cloud. This allows you to easily access and transfer all of your photos and videos across all of your devices and your content is readily available when you’re ready to make a video slideshow.

Do you use Dropbox to share photos or videos with friends, family or clients? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
 

Sep
12

Author:

Best Practices for Burning DVD Slideshows

dvdblank2

Burning a DVD of the finished product is commonplace for many slideshow creators. But along with burning DVDs comes the risk of burn failures. These often fall into two camps – either a burn that fails at some point during the writing process, or one that finishes successfully but does not play all the way through on a standalone DVD player.  There are multiple factors at play here, and it’s often hard to identify the true culprit. Today we’ll be looking at four possible factors for disc burning failures and how to avoid them.

Want to learn how to burn a DVD slideshow in ProShow? Click here for steps on how to burn a DVD slideshow in ProShow Gold & Producer. Click here to learn how to burn a DVD slideshow in ProShow Web.

Burn speed:

If you buy a new DVD burner today and a pack of blank discs, odds are that both are rated for at least a 16x burn speed.  Without going into the technical details, this means that a DVD can be burned 16 times faster than the time it takes to watch the DVD from start to finish. This relationship varies greatly depending on the DVD quality setting you’ve chosen, which makes it a less-than-ideal rule of thumb, but you can safely assume that the higher the x value, the quicker the discs can be burned.

The truth is, the stars have to align for you to have a good burning success rate at 16x. Not only does your burner have to be top-notch, but your system has to be able to consistently feed the burner data at that rate. More importantly, the manufacturing quality of the discs may not be up to par to allow for burning at 16x, despite what’s written on the label.

The easiest way to ensure successful writes is to lower the burn speed.  Assuming you’ve already inserted your blank DVD in ProShow Gold or ProShow Producer, the Burning tab of the Create DVD window will allow you to change the speed from “Max” to a lower value.  I generally recommend no faster than 4x, but if this isn’t available for the disc you’re using, try the lowest speed listed.

4x - 2

DVD Media:

While a lower burn speed can increase the reliability of most blank discs, you’ll want to hedge your bets with discs that are manufactured at a higher quality.  The problem is that the vast majority of brands outsource their production to a number of factories with varying processes and quality standards.  A ubiquitous brand like Memorex, for example, may be decent quality in one batch and low quality in another (they’re usually never *great* quality though).

The two brands that get mentioned the most when talking about good quality blank discs are Taiyo Yuden and Verbatim.  You’re not likely to see the brand Taiyo Yuden in any of your local stores, so your best bet is ordering them online under one of their various brand names (JVC being the most common). Just do a search on Amazon for Taiyo Yuden discs. Verbatim is comparatively much more common to find in stores, but make sure to look for those that have the “AZO” label on the packaging (Link), which indicates that a superior recording dye is used in their manufacturing process.

Basic CMYK

One question that comes up a lot is whether to use DVD-R or DVD+R media. Though technically two competing technologies, in the modern era they’re almost equally supported by the vast majority of burners and DVD players.  Just make sure that your burner explicitly supports the type of media you’re buying.

Firmware:

If you find that you have a higher failure rate – perhaps even a 100% failure rate – with a certain pack of discs, it’s time to buy a different pack, right?  Not necessarily.  DVD burners have what’s known as “firmware”, which is a low-level set of instructions that tells the writer how to respond to the commands sent by the burning software.  Over time, a drive manufacturer may release an updated firmware that not only improves the reliability of the burner, but also improves the compatibility with certain discs.

Assuming your drive is burning your discs with no problem, you don’t need to worry about the firmware. But if you’re getting a number of coasters – or discs that failed to burn correctly - you’ll want to check your drive manufacturer’s site for an updated firmware to download.  Drives that come with pre-installed in name brand systems (e.g. Dell, HP, etc) will often have firmware updates in the drivers/downloads section of the brand’s website for your computer model.

If your computer is not made by a name brand or has an aftermarket drive, you may need to look up firmware for the exact model number of the drive. To do this, you can open the Device Manager in Windows’ Control Panel to see the model number of the optical drive(s) is installed. After you’ve found this, do a Google search for [model number] firmware.  With any luck, the first few results should lead you to what you’re looking for.  Just make sure and follow the instructions listed on the website to ensure a pain-free update.

devicemanager

Hardware:

There are a handful of brands that are synonymous with making good DVD burners – Pioneer, Sony Optiarc, Samsung – but not every drive model out there is a winner.  Likewise, the less-revered brands like LG or Matsushita will have their share of great models.  Your best defense is to read reviews (on Amazon, Newegg, etc) for a general consensus on quality.  Remember: a drive with 1000 reviews and an average rating of 4.5-out-of-5 stars is often a better bet than a drive with 50 reviews and a 5-out-of-5 rating.

As I mentioned earlier in the article, burning a DVD requires that your system be able to feed a steady stream of data to the burner.  Potential bottlenecks include slow hard drives, a slow CPU, or the type of data connection between your system and the drives, just to name a few.  The bottom line is that you’re regularly burning discs on an older machine, it may be time to look into purchasing a new computer.

What about Blu-ray?:

The same principles above apply to burning Blu-ray discs as well. You should burn at a lower speed than what’s advertised (2x or 4x for BD-R discs) and you’ll want to make sure your burner’s firmware is up to date.  When buying Blu-ray BD-R discs, you should avoid discs that say “LTH” or “Low-to-High” on the packaging.  These discs are manufactured using cheaper organic dyes that degrade over time.  I personally recommend using Verbatim BD-R discs.

Further reading:

If you’d like to get more in depth in the concepts mentioned above, the website The Digital FAQ is an invaluable resource. Here are a few recommended articles:

Blank DVD Media Quality Review

DVD Burning and Media Quality Concepts

DVD-Video Disc and Burner Formats; DVD-R vs DVD+R

Thread: DVD Burner Reviews for 2013

 

Sep
11

Author:

11 Year Old Explaining his Photo and Video Progression Will Make Your Day

11 year old Hayden Russell recently sent us this video explaining his journey as a photographer and cinematographer. He’s been capturing images and shooting videos since he was 5 years old and enjoys producing videos and slideshows with his brother Grady that they post on his YouTube channel. Hayden allowed us to share some of his recent images with you below (thanks Hayden!) and we were really impressed with his work!

Do you remember the first time you were inspired to pick up a camera? Was there a certain mentor, instructor or speaker that inspired you to get started? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

Street Lightning

Hill Country Sunset

Pond in HDR

 

Sep
9

Author:

Slideshow Calculator: Estimate How Many Photos to Use + Song Length

Slideshow Calculator

How long should my slideshow be? If you plan to make a slideshow for friends, family or clients, this might be a question you’re asking yourself.

  • Too short of a show and your audience will be left wanting more.
  • Too long of a show and you could be boring everyone to tears!

The calculator below estimates timing and content needs for your slideshow and provides a visual preview of the speed at which your content will appear on the screen. Plug in some numbers below to give it a try and be sure to bookmark this page for future reference!

Read More

Sep
3

Author:

Add Some Action-Packed Effects to your Sports Slideshows

Sports and Action Effects Pack for ProShow

With school back in full swing and football season right around the corner, now’s the perfect time to add some action-packed effects to your ProShow slideshows. Our Sports & Action Effects Pack covers 15 major competitive athletic and performance categories, and offers an exciting array of sporty transitions, edgy layouts & titles, plus team color customizations!
 

Watch the Sports & Action Effects Pack Demo Video

Watch the video below for a glimpse at some of the amazing effects in this pack. With just a few clicks, you can transform your photos and videos into amazing animations. The Sports & Action Effects Pack is easy to use and gives your slideshows a professional look!

Create Custom Player ‘Stats Cards’

One of the coolest features of the Sports & Action Effects Pack is the ability to create custom player’s stats slides for each team or team member. Enter in your school’s name, player’s name and stats. The player’s stats effects are totally customizable – you can even set your own custom colors to match your school or team’s look. Click here to see how it’s done!

Sports and Action Effects Pack for ProShow

Get the Sports & Action Effects Pack today for just $19.95. Works with ProShow Gold, ProShow Producer and ProShow Web. Also be sure and check out Transition Pack 2 and Effects Pack 6 for even more action-packed effects for your ProShow slideshows.

 

Sep
1

Author:

The Big Picture: Stream HD Slideshows to Your TV with Chromecast

As we mentioned in the last article in this series, the DVD format may be ubiquitous, but its inherently low resolution (~ 1/3rd of a megapixel) makes it less-than-ideal for showing off your photo slideshows on your HDTV. To work around these shortcomings, we showed you how to a) create a Blu-ray disc and b) stream to an Apple TV via Airplay. This week we’re going to show you another way to get your slideshows onto your TV in high definition.

CHROMECAST

chromecastdevice

Google’s Chromecast is a relatively new and affordable ($35 USD) entry in the media streaming market. This flash-drive-sized device plugs into a free HDMI port on either your TV or home theater receiver and allows you to stream almost anything from your computer’s Google Chrome web browser onto your TV.  Watching a funny YouTube video on your laptop and want to show your family and friends? Just click a button in your browser and it will instantly show up on your TV.  Want to show off the photos from your recent trip that you’ve uploaded to Flickr? Now you can easily show those images on the big screen.

But what about your photo slideshows that aren’t uploaded anywhere on the web? Fortunately, there are Chrome apps specifically designed to let you choose a video file on your computer and stream it to the Chromecast. We’ll be focusing on the free Chrome app Videostream.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A Chromecast plugged into an HDMI port on your HDTV
  • A wireless network, preferably one that utilizes wireless N for faster connections
  • A smartphone, tablet, or laptop to initially set up the Chromecast
  • ProShow Producer, ProShow Web or ProShow Gold (Gold requires the Devices Plug-in) to create an optimized MPEG-4 video file.

First, you’ll want to plug your Chromecast into your TV or home theater receiver and set it up so that it connects to your wireless network. The setup process requires a smartphone, tablet, or laptop – basically anything that has wireless capabilities. See this tutorial for detailed instructions.

Once you’ve gotten the Chromecast set up, you’ll want to make sure you have the Google Chrome web browser installed on the same computer where you have ProShow installed.  Download and install it here if you don’t have it already. Next, you’ll want to install the Google Cast extension. This is the fundamental component that allows you to stream anything from your browser to your Chromecast. You can download it here.

The next step is installing the Videostream app for Chromecast, which will allow us to pick a video file on our computer and send it to the Chromecast.  Install it here.

Now that we have everything set up for streaming, we actually need to create the video file that we’re going to be sending to the Chromecast. In ProShow Producer, open an existing show, then go to Publish > Video for Web, Devices, and Computers. From the Video File category, choose the MPEG-4 H.264 720p preset, then click Create. Make sure to save this file in a location that you’ll remember, like on your Desktop or in My Documents. Note that you can do the same thing in ProShow Gold, but you’ll need the Devices Plug-in to create the proper MPEG-4 files.

If you’re using ProShow Web and you have a Premium subscription, you can also create a 720p MPEG-4 video for streaming to Chromecast. Simply open your show, go to the Downloads + Videos tab and click the Create button in the 720p MP4 Video section. After it finishes creating, click the green Download button to save it to your computer.

proshowdevices

Once your video has been created, you’ll want to click on the Chrome App Launcher icon on your taskbar and choose Videostream (Figure 1). The app will launch in your browser. Click the “Select a movie to play” button and choose the file that you created from ProShow (Figures 2, 3).  At this point you may see the message “Initializing Communication to Chromecast; Please select a Chromecast using the Google Cast Extension”. Simply choose the name of your Chromecast from the list that is shown in the top right (Figure 4).

Figure 1:

Figure 2:

CropperCapture[594]

Figure 3:

choosefile

Figure 4:

choosechromecast

If everything is working as expected, your slideshow should now be playing on your TV in high definition!

Tips for Wireless Streaming:

  • For best results, you’ll want to use a Wireless N or Wireless AC router.  Since the Chromecast operates only on the 2.4Ghz wireless spectrum, make sure your router is set to allow wireless N or mixed-mode on the 2.4Ghz channel.
  • If the video stutters or pauses during playback, you may need to change the Video Quality settings in Videostream’s configuration. Click the Gear icon at the top right of the Videostream app and change the Video Quality from High to either Adaptive or Low.

 

Aug
29

Author:

FAQ Friday: Top ProShow Questions and Answers

ProShow Frequently Asked Questions

Each Friday we share the top 5 most buzzed about topics and questions about making video slideshows with ProShow. These come directly from ProShow users just like you and are collected by our customer service team each week! Read the round-up below to see what people are curious about this week.

  1. How do I set a custom aspect ratio for my slideshow?
    In ProShow, you can adjust your show’s aspect ratio to give you a better fit for various devices that may not use the traditional 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio screens. To adjust your show’s aspect ratio go into your Show Settings window (keyboard shortcut: CTRL+H) and locate the ‘Aspect Ratio’ option found near the top. Change the Aspect Ratio to ‘Custom’ and enter your new aspect ratio in the provided value boxes to the right. For more information on show aspect ratios, click here.
  2. How do I offset my soundtrack so it starts later in my show?
    In ProShow, you may want to delay your show soundtrack so it starts after a title slide or a video introduction at the beginning of your show. This type of delay is called an offset in ProShow. To apply an offset, go into your Soundtrack Settings window (keyboard shortcut: CTRL+M) and select the first song in the soundtrack column on the left.  With the song selected, locate the Offset value box under Track Settings and enter a positive number to delay the soundtrack. Make sure you enter the offset value in seconds. For example, if we want to delay the soundtrack by 1 minute, we would enter 60 seconds for our offset.

    Add an offset to your audio track in ProShow.

    Remember: This type of change may require a bit of trial and error until you get it just right. Be sure to test playback after making this change. When you add an offset your entire soundtrack shifts over by the number of seconds added to the offset value.

    For more information on adjusting your soundtrack in ProShow, click here.

  3. Where is the Slide Inspector found in ProShow?
    The Slide Inspector is a neat tool for the diehard slide show creator that needs a quick view of a particular slide in the main interface of the program. In the Slide Inspector you will see details like the slide style and transition used, duration, and how many layers and captions are on the selected slide. To enable the Slide Inspector in ProShow, click on Window > Show > Slide Inspector or you can use the following keyboard shortcut: CTRL+SHIFT+F7 to enable this feature.
  4. Can I remove red-eye on a picture in my slideshow?
    Absolutely! To remove red eye from a picture in your show, double-click the slide containing the picture with red eye and select the layer from the layers column on the left. Then click on the Adjustments tab at the top and locate the Red-Eye tool under your Editing Tools on the bottom-right of the Slide Options window.
  5. How do I remove unwanted transitions when using the random transition picker in my slideshow?
    To remove unwanted transitions from the random transition picker, go into Show Options (keyboard shortcut: CTRL+H) and click onthe Set Random Transitions button at the top of your Show Settings screen. Uncheck the unwanted transitions in the list and click Apply to save these changes. When using this option it is important to make sure you set the transition for all slides to the random transition option from the picker otherwise it will not work as expected.

    Adjusting random transitions in ProShow.

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!

 

How-To + Tutorials

Using Dropbox and ProShow for Improved Slideshow Workflow

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

If you’re looking for a great way to store, archive or share your photos or videos in the cloud, Dropbox may be a great solution for you. They…

Best Practices for Burning DVD Slideshows

Friday, September 12, 2014

Burning a DVD of the finished product is commonplace for many slideshow creators. But along with burning DVDs comes the risk of burn failures. These often fall into two camps…

The Big Picture: Stream HD Slideshows to Your TV with Chromecast

Monday, September 1, 2014

As we mentioned in the last article in this series, the DVD format may be ubiquitous, but its inherently low resolution (~ 1/3rd of a megapixel) makes it less-than-ideal for…

FAQ Friday: Top ProShow Questions and Answers

Friday, August 29, 2014

Each Friday we share the top 5 most buzzed about topics and questions about making video slideshows with ProShow. These come directly from ProShow users just like you and are collected…