After nearly 20 years on the market, there is no video format more ubiquitous than the DVD. Regardless of whether the technologically-challenged members of your family can easily *operate* a DVD player, they probably have at least one in their house. On top of that, most desktop computers and full-sized laptops purchased in the last 10 years have had the hardware to burn a DVD. Buy a pack of blank DVDs and you can be burning your slideshows in no time and playing them on your TV. But is DVD really the format you want to be using? Since the advent of high definition televisions, the shortcomings of a DVD have become easily apparent.
First, the maximum resolution of a DVD video is defined as 720×480 (or 720×576 if your country’s TV standard is PAL). In other words, your super-sharp 15-megapixel images that you want to show off will be downsized to just over a third of a megapixel as part of the DVD creation process. DVDs don’t come close to the clarity that modern HDTVs can achieve. Assuming you have a 1080p television, you are only using 1/6th of the available resolution.
Secondly, for all intents and purposes, DVD is an interlaced format. This means that at any given moment, you’re only seeing half of the vertical resolution. Modern televisions and DVD players may do a decent job of de-interlacing – or combining the interlaced fields to create the full-resolution frames – but when there is motion in your shows, it will never look as good as video signal that’s not interlaced.
What are your options?
If you want to get your slideshows onto your television in high definition, the most straight-forward method is creating a Blu-ray disc, the de facto successor to the DVD. To do this you’ll need 1) a Blu-ray burner, 2) a blank BD-R or rewriteable BD-RE disc, and 3) a Blu-ray player to play it on your TV. Blu-ray burners do not come pre-installed in most computers, so it’s highly likely that you’d need to purchase an internal or external Blu-ray burner first.
Creating a Blu-ray disc is very similar to writing a DVD. You’ll open your show in ProShow, choose Blu-ray from the Publish menu and customize your menu as necessary, then click the Create button. After a period of rendering, the data will be burned to your disc, ready to be played on a Blu-ray player. Still, there are a few options when creating your disc that are worth mentioning.
In the Options tab, the Blu-ray Type is set to 1080p by default. While this will give you the maximum resolution possible, 1080p on Blu-ray is hampered by being limited to 24 frames per second. This may look natural, if not good, for a feature film, but this comparatively low frame rate can make a slideshow seem choppy or jerky during pans. I prefer choosing 720p because it allows frame rates up to 59.94. In my opinion, the smoother frame rate of 720p is a much more noticeable improvement than the extra resolution that 1080p provides.
Burning a Blu-ray disc means that you’ll be dealing with significantly more data than when creating a DVD. Because of this, it’s very important that your burn speed is not set higher than what your system is able to consistently send to your burner. Once you’ve inserted your blank disc, you’ll be able to change the burn speed from Max to a lower value in the Burning tab. I would recommend either 2x or 4x for a BD-R, and 1x or 2x for a BD-RE.
APPLE TV VIA AIRPLAY:
Of course, Blu-ray isn’t the only option for getting high definition video on your television. If you happen to have an iPhone or iPad as well as an Apple TV, you can use Apple’s Airplay service to wirelessly stream any video saved on your phone or tablet to your television.
While playing the video on your device, click the Airplay icon at the bottom right and choose your Apple TV. If all is working as planned, you should now be able to watch your slideshow on your television in high definition.
If you do not have ProShow version 6, you can still achieve the same goal by using the ProShow Devices plugin to create a video that’s compatible with your Apple device. Next you’ll use iTunes to sync the video to your device, and during playback you can enable the same Airplay option as described above.
When considering the multitude of ways to watch your high definition slideshows on your TV, this article is just scratching the surface. New devices are emerging every day (Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, etc) that either allow wireless streaming from your mobile devices or direct playback of files stored on your network. We hope to cover these other options in an upcoming article.