With Photodex and SCU teaming up with four great contests over the last year and the current search for the best self-promotional video going on right now, I found the perfect post in their archives to help you focus on creating greater impact with your slide shows. While it was written in January and refers to ProShow 6, ProShow 7 was just announced this week. However, all of the techniques shared in this post are still right on the money for helping you create better presentations in less time. Click on the tab at the end of the post to find out about ProShow 7!!
A big thanks to "Leslie" at Photodex for her non-stop enthusiasm and never-ending quest to help artists raise the bar on their presentations.
The core principles for making any slideshow better can easily be learned and applied by anyone at any level, amateur or pro. Read on to see what tips our design team has to offer for different aspects of the slideshow creation ‘process’, from content prep to adding finishing touches.
Tip #1: Sort the photo order BEFORE starting.
For maximum efficiency, sort out the order of the photos and videos you plan to use in your slideshow before launching ProShow. The larger the project, the more crucial this step becomes, especially when using content from multiple contributors with a variety of non-descriptive file names (like DSC16798.jpg and IMG0003486.jpg). This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed at the start or worried about accidentally leaving out important photos during the process. Plus, you will spend far less time doing this step outside of ProShow beforehand than if you waited to figure out the order slide by slide.
Recommended ways to sort the order — either manually rename the files directly in the folder you’re storing them by adding a sequential number to the beginning of the file name (e.g. 001_originalfilename.jpg), or use our preferred method of working in a photo manager like Adobe Bridge or Photoshop Lightroom (there are many other options that do the same). First, manually drag the photos into the visual order you want. Then select all the photos you’ve sorted as a group selection, and open the batch rename tool to instantly add a sequentially numbered prefix to all of your selected files.
One thing we like to do before starting a slideshow is to quickly estimate the total length of the show and assess content needs. It’s quick and easy to do with our awesome Slideshow Calculator, and it doesn’t need to be a highly accurate projection to be helpful. The idea here is to get a ballpark idea as to how many songs and photos you’ll need (if your show has a set length already), or vice versa — how long your show will end up being based on the amount of content you have. It allows you to avoid any awkward fit/timing issues when you’re trying to wrap it up. Plus, it lets you know ahead of time if you need to cut back on the # of photos you plan on using.
Tip #3: Use a limited variety of effects. Repeat.
To give your slideshow a strong, recognizable style, it is important to be selective and consistent about the effects choices (and other style elements like fonts & colors) used in your slideshow. Using every slide style or transition effect available to you without restraint tends to result in an unfocused feeling of randomness. It would be like dumping your entire spice cabinet into your saucepan, when what you really needed for the meal was just basil, oregano, a bay leaf and salt.
For most slideshows (excluding really basic shows), we find that limiting your selection of effects to roughly 6-12 slide styles and 4-8 transition effects is ideal for achieving a distinct, stylized look with enough variety. Of course, these are just a few guidelines that can be stretched or minimized further. The point is to limit your palette of options and use them with consistency if you want your audience to see a style pattern in your work. Using the built-in wizard themes in ProShow will automate this process for you. You can also create your own custom wizard themes using any effects you want. If applying effects manually while building a show from scratch, try using the new Favorites option in ProShow 6 to enable quick access to your preferred effects. <—Huge time-saver.
Slideshows tend to look best if you follow either of these two approaches:
1) Consistency Approach — When your slideshow photos are all shot at the same location / event or the backgrounds in the photos have a similar look — choose slide styles (or wizard themes) that share the same, consistent background color (dark vs. light).
2) Contrasting Approach — When your slideshow project involves using photos with BOTH light & dark content and you are not bound by a chronological order (for example, a portfolio or image showcase video), consider alternating the order of the photos shown, based on the dark/light values & colors in the photos to achieve an interesting sense of contrast from one slide to the next. For example, try to alternate between ‘dark-light-dark-light’ vs. ‘dark-dark-dark-light-dark’. Do the same for colors if you can. Alternate between cool-warm-cool palettes and jump around through the color spectrum instead of clustering too many photos sharing the same color scheme.
Tip #5: Improve flow with montages & videos.
Flow — in terms of a slideshow, song or movie (anything that changes over time) is somewhat tricky to describe but you can feel it. It’s about energy and its relationship with the structure of the work. Most people can tell if the flow of a slideshow feels good (even if they don’t know why), because there is a feeling of momentum and new things around the corner and because… they don’t feel bored! If a slideshow looks nice but feels dull or a certain part feels ‘stuck in a rut’, the flow needs improvement. To see this concept in action, take a look at a song. If you consider the song’s structure, in most cases, you’ll find that it doesn’t just play 5 verses in a row. There’s a chorus that comes in every once in a while to break up the pattern and ‘reset’ the feeling of sameness.
There are different ways to improve flow in a slideshow. Using contrast by way of alternating photo content, mentioned above, can go a long way. Another easy way to improve flow is to throw in surprises (at intervals) such as multi-photo montages & video clips. Throughout your show, every 4-6 slides containing single photos, try grouping multiple related photos into the same slide and apply a montage (multi-photo) effect. (Tip: You can use the ‘Combine Slides’ option to merge multiple selected slides into one).
Tip #6: Save time with quick & easy shortcuts.
Earlier, we mentioned repeating the use of specific effects throughout your show to strengthen its stylistic identity. However, repetition of effects does not have to equate to tedium on your part. Using the wizard in ProShow to create or remix slideshows will minimize effort if you want an automatic, hand-off approach. For those who prefer to make slideshows from scratch or fine-tune with a few custom changes, you’ll love the time-saving benefits of ProShow’s ‘Copy Settings’ options and ‘Select File’ image swap technique.
In ProShow, there must be at least a hundred options for copying one aspect of your show to another part of the show. When in doubt, right-click on the slide, layer, or setting you want to copy and you will likely see a ‘Copy Settings‘ option to expedite your process. It allows you to transfer the slide or layer values for one setting (whether position, style, motion, color, etc.) to another slide or layer as a single instance copy or batch / global copy. If you need to quickly change a font for a recurring caption on 21 slides, this would be the perfect opportunity to apply this handy feature.
Slide styles are great to use because they’re fast, virtually effortless ways to tranform a still photo into something far cooler and dynamic. However, for those building shows from scratch — manually applying slide styles to dozens of photos, even with 1-click ease, still takes more time and energy than we like – especially if you can’t remember the exact name of the effect. The lazy / smart man’s approach is to simply find a slide in your show that uses the style you want to re-use. Copy and paste this slide (Ctrl+C, then Ctrl+V) to create a copy of that slide anywhere in your show. Open up the copied slide, right click on any photo layers in it (it doesn’t matter if there are duplicates), then click ‘Select File’ to pick another photo to swap in. Even faster, you can just drag a photo from ProShow’s file browser onto the layer and it’ll instantly auto-update, duplicates and all.
You know the mantra — first impressions are lasting impressions. Whether you plan to share your finished slideshow digitally (online or on a mobile device), or rather — as a physical disc, there are a few quick and simple things you can do to enhance the professionalism of your delivery.
For Online Slideshow Videos – Create a Cover / Poster Image
A video’s ‘cover’ or ‘poster’ image is the static placeholder graphic shown when the video is not in the process of playing. Since the chances are just as likely that your video will NOT be playing vs. playing, when someone is browsing the page it is on, it’s worthwhile to make sure the static cover image properly represents your slideshow in the best possible way. The cover image should draw people in and entice them to watch the video.
Most sites that support videos (Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, WordPress video display options, etc.) allow you to upload a custom cover image for your videos. If you don’t select a cover image, the default is auto-selected from a random scene in your video. If you’d rather not leave things to chance (we don’t), then designate a specific photo or custom graphic to serve as your video’s cover image.
For Presenting Slideshows on Disc
If you’re giving a hard copy of a slideshow on disc, treat it like the gift that it is. Package it nicely so it’s never mistaken for a drink coaster. Not only are there countless elegant disc cases & folio options to consider for your DVD, Blu-ray and CD deliverables, but there are also do-it-yourself case insert & label options that you can print at home. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our free downloadable DVD case templates for Photoshop & MS Word.