Software Takes Hassle Out of Creating Slideshows

Remember the effort it took to put together a photo slideshow? First, you had to load slides into carousels.

“Now let me see, should the printing on the slide face me or face away from me? How did that slide get in there upside down?

“Now it’s time to lug the projection screen from the closet.”

That is, if you had a projection screen. How many slideshows have you been trapped into viewing that were displayed on a bare wall or a creatively draped sheet?

How about setting up the projector?

“Am I too close to the screen? No. Need more distance. Let’s move some furniture around to get it.

“Now the projector’s height is all wrong. Need a book. No. That one’s too thick. This one’s too thin.”

Then there was the continuous playing with the projector’s focus as slides warped from the heat of the unit’s bulb.

You get my drift.

PC to the Rescue

All that hassle came to an end with digital photography. Now you can load a bunch of photos into a computer. Slap them into a slideshow application. Add some titles and music. Burn it all to disc. You’re good to go.

You do, however, have to decide what software to use. If you’re looking for an application to make quick and simple slideshows, you may want to take a look at Nero’s latest offering, PhotoShow Deluxe 4 (US$39.99).

In introducing PhotoShow, Nero, which is known for its outstanding optical disc burning software, is entering a very crowded market. Next to image editing and management programs, slideshow applications seem to be released on an almost weekly basis.

Separate From the Pack

Nero separates PhotoShow from the pack by building the program around three elements: managing, making and sharing slideshows.

You can move among the elements by clicking tabs placed along the top of the program’s interface.

Below the tabs are two panes.

One displays a tree-structure for navigating around your photo and slideshow collections. This view contains some handy built-in filters. It automatically organizes your photos by year and month, for instance. It allows you to organize your images by keywords for people and places, too,but that has to be done manually, which makes it less useful.

As you move up and down the navigation tree, thumbnail images linked to the navigation items appear in an adjacent pane. When your cursor hovers over a thumbnail, a tool palette appears. With it, you can edit the image, rotate it, assign a value to it — make it a favorite or rate it from one to five stars, or trash it.

Robust Editing

The editing tools built into PhotoShow are more robust than those found in most slideshow programs. There are your typical red eye, crop, and brightness, contrast and saturation controls, but there’s a nice set of filters, too. They allow you to do things like solarize an image, add blurring effects, emulate painting mediums and styles — oil paint, Impressionist and such — and distort an image into odd shapes.

In addition, there’s a set of touch-up tools for removing unwanted elements from an image.

Making a slideshow is straightforward. You choose some photos. You can add enhancements — music, transitions, pan and zoom effects — across the entire slide show, or individually.

If you’re not feeling creative, the program has a number of “one-click” options for a slideshow. With a single click, the program will choose music, transitions and photo frames for events like weddings, birthdays or parties.

When you’re finished with a slideshow, the application gives you a number of ways to share it with others. There’s a free Web site for posting shows created with the program, a button for sending the productions to correspondents via e-mail and, of course, burning your masterpiece to CD or DVD.

If your hard drive is filling up with digital photos and you’re itching to turn them into slideshows but didn’t know where to turn, PhotoShow is a good place to start.

John Mello is a freelance business and technology writer who can be reached at [email protected].

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