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Tips To Creating A Professional Looking Photo Montage or Picture Slideshow

Photos For A Slideshow.

Are you one of those people that love creating photo video slideshows, or photo montages, from your most cherished photos?

And do you ever wonder why your slideshow seems so bland compared to other professional looking photo slideshows?

There are no hidden secrets to creating dynamic and interesting photo slideshows.

By following just a few simple steps, you can be on your way to creating dynamic and professional looking photo montages from your favorite photos, like with the Animoto Video Slideshow Maker.

Keep the following tips in mind when creating your video slideshows:

1. Use high resolution good quality photos.

The first and most important step in creating a good quality photo slideshow is using good photos. Nothing ruins a slideshow more than bad photos. If you are using scanned photos, make sure they are free of dust and have been colour corrected. Digital photos are a better source for slideshows as they are already digitized and ready for use in your photo slideshow program.

In addition to the visual quality of the image, make sure your scanned photo or digitized image is a high enough resolution. DVD video resolution is 720×480 pixels. At the minimum, I recommend using an image at least double the resolution of DVD video. I prefer 1920×1080 pixels at the minimum for all my photos, which is High Definition (HD) and will become apparent why later.

Image quality will be one less thing to be concerned with when working on your slideshow if you have good photos. Use good quality photos right from the start and you will not have to go back and rescan or find replacement photos later.

2. Photo to fill screen/eliminate black space.

Have you ever seen photo slideshows with photos in the centre of the screen with black space surrounding the photo? When creating slideshows, the photo in the slideshow should take up the entire screen, unless you are deliberately using a theme that utilizes black space. There should be nothing visible other than the photo. No black space should be visible on the screen beyond the photo.

In my opinion, having any black space outside of the photo makes the slideshow appear unprofessional. It tells me the photo being used did not quite fit and centre on the screen and that with black space around it, it was the only way the photo would work.

The television and computer monitor is wider than it is tall, so horizontal or landscape shaped photos work better than vertical or portrait shaped photos. One rule to go by is if the photo does not work then do not use it. Even if you think it is a great photo and you want to include it in your slideshow, if the photo does not work on the screen, do not include it in the project.

3. Limit the number of transition styles.

Some photo slideshow programs come with many different styles of transition. To some people, that may be cool and the more styles the software offers, the better the program may seem to be. Howeer, when you view a photo slideshow that uses many different transition styles, it can draw importance away from the photos and viewers notice the transitions more than the images.

Transition styles should appear seamless and unnoticed. In all the photo montages you create, you should use no more than 1 or 2 transition styles, and most of the time, it is best to use just a simple fade-in and fade-out transitions. Using all the transition styles your software comes with may be a cool thing, but the focus of the slideshow, which are your photos, is lost when this is done.

4. Ensure images have adequate hold times.

When you view a slideshow, have you ever experienced photos going past too quickly and missing what you just viewed? Your audience needs to see and progression of photos in your slideshow in order to enjoy and remember them.

In the photo slideshows you create, make sure each of my photos hold for at least 5-7 seconds, depending on the tempo of the project. This hold time does not include the 1 second transition in the front and end of each image. You will need to decide what a good hold time will be. Too short and the viewer misses what was just shown. Too long and it feels like awkward silence.

5. Zoom, pan, and hold are key to dynamism.

I’m sure you’ve seen photo slideshows that have images fade-in and fade-out for 10 minutes and that is pretty much all the photo montage does with the photos. After just 3 minutes of watching, I am sure it gets a little monotonous. The photos may be interesting, but you might as well flip through a photo album if that is all your project does.

To keep things interesting, use a combination of 3 things for each image in the photo montage. The photos can zoom-in or zoom-out; pan-up or pan-down, pan-left or pan-right; or hold in place for the duration of that image. Combining these 3 techniques of pan, zoom and hold for your photos will create a dynamic and interesting photo montage. Regarding the zoom technique, having a higher resolution image, such as 1029×1080 pixels or higher, will ensure your image does not lose quality when zooming in.

One final thing to remember is not to over do it. Keep in mind how much you zoom or move the image. Your viewer needs to be able to see the photo and if you put too much movement in the photo, he or she will miss what you are trying to show. And mix up the movement. You could zoom and pan four or five photos, and then hold one or two.

6. Try video intros and video endings.

If your slideshow program allows the use of inserting video into the project, try using specific video introductions in your project. For example, if you are creating a slideshow from pictures of your daughter’s first birthday, find or create a video introduction that says “1st Birthday.”

If you do not know how to create a video intro, there are websites that specialize in providing videos for photo montage enthusiasts. There are websites with large libraries of video intros at affordable pricing. And the best thing is, you can download the video right after purchase without waiting for a CD to be shipped. Of course, check to see that your software will accept video files.

7. Keep the project at a respectable length.

You may have hundreds of photos you want to use and want the slideshow running forever, but a good slideshow run time should be 10-15 minutes at most. Anything longer than 15 minutes will slowly cause your audience to lose interest the longer the show runs. The creator of the slideshow may think its okay, but this will not be the case with the audience, the people you want to impress. In this case, too much of a good thing does ring true.

Use about 3 songs at most in your projects. The average song is about 3.5 to 5 minutes long. Sticking to this format will keep your project within the 10-15 minute length. Add a fourth song if the playtime of your current 3 songs are too short.

8. Finish off with a DVD box cover/disc art.

For the final touch, find artwork and print out a DVD cover that can be inserted into the DVD case. And if you have a DVD disc printer, print a nice design on the disc for that final professional touch. Having some artwork for your DVD cover and DVD disc will look much better than having just a black DVD case and a white DVD disc. Not to mention, your family and friends will be very impressed!!!

I hope the above tips will help you in creating better photo montages. Try different things and see what works for you.

If you are looking for a great online video slideshow creator that removes a lot of the work for you, take a look at the Animoto Video Slideshow Maker.

Animoto Promo To Create Photo Montage or Picture Slideshow

A “Learn More” video for Animoto.com. This video describes the technology used at Animoto.com for creating a Photo Montage or Picture Slideshow.


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