When it comes to using still images in a multimedia production, people often wonder how much preprocessing is actually necessary. The truth is, not much. Slideshow tools like ProShow can handle just about any images you have on hand. There are, however, a few things you can do to make working with those images a bit more efficient. The key is knowing what to edit and what to leave alone.
The most important thing to understand about preparing still images for the video slideshow world is that you’re dealing with limited resolutions. Every medium through which a slideshow is likely to be presented (Blu-ray, YouTube, DVD, stand alone video, EXE, etc.) effectively uses a much lower resolution than your average digital photo. The de facto standard in video resolutions right now is 1080p, which uses 1,920 pixels of horizontal resolution and 1,080 pixels of vertical resolution. That may sound substantial but it’s really only about 2 megapixels. Consider that most modern digital cameras support shooting at 10+ megapixels and you begin to see the disparity.
When preparing still images for a video slideshow, consider resizing those images to a resolution more in line with what you’ll actually need. Smaller images take up less space and are easier to process, leaving more time for you to actually work on your slideshows! I like to target about 5 megapixels when resizing my images. At that size I can work with just about any zoom factor without running into scaling artifacts. If you’re resizing by resolution, rather than megapixels, just make sure the longest edge of your image is restricted to about 2,800 pixels.
ProShow supports a wide array of image formats, some more complex and difficult to process than others. If you’re going to resize your images anyway, consider saving them as JPGs. This compressed image format loads quickly, saves on hard drive space, and is more than sufficient for a quality HD slideshow. When asked to choose a JPG encoding quality, choose a value that is just below the maximum (ex. 10 out of 12). This will ensure that you get a quality image at a reasonable file size.
In most cases, preprocessing images to correct for orientation, aspect ratio, composition, and other image attributes is not necessary. ProShow does a great job with images in the standard 3:2, 4:3, and square aspect ratios while using metadata to adjust for things like orientation. It is also very forgiving of minor compositional flaws, where the subject of an image may not be in the optimal frame position. Save time by letting ProShow make automatic adjustments and using the extensive settings in Slide Options to make any other necessary corrections.
If you have Lightroom, still image preprocessing is nearly automatic. Just get the free ProShow Plug-in for Lightroom, which supports ProShow Producer, ProShow Gold, and ProShow Web. This plug-in provides automatic image resizing and JPG conversion as part of the export process. It’s quick, easy, and designed to streamline your workflow.
Make your slideshow creation experience as easy and efficient as possible by using only the image data you need and letting ProShow handle all the other details. The goal is to import quality content that is quick to process so you can focus on the business of making slideshows.