As we mentioned in the last article in this series, the DVD format may be ubiquitous, but its inherently low resolution (~ 1/3rd of a megapixel) makes it less-than-ideal for showing off your photo slideshows on your HDTV. To work around these shortcomings, we showed you how to a) create a Blu-ray disc and b) stream to an Apple TV via Airplay. This week we’re going to show you another way to get your slideshows onto your TV in high definition.
Google’s Chromecast is a relatively new and affordable ($35 USD) entry in the media streaming market. This flash-drive-sized device plugs into a free HDMI port on either your TV or home theater receiver and allows you to stream almost anything from your computer’s Google Chrome web browser onto your TV. Watching a funny YouTube video on your laptop and want to show your family and friends? Just click a button in your browser and it will instantly show up on your TV. Want to show off the photos from your recent trip that you’ve uploaded to Flickr? Now you can easily show those images on the big screen.
But what about your photo slideshows that aren’t uploaded anywhere on the web? Fortunately, there are Chrome apps specifically designed to let you choose a video file on your computer and stream it to the Chromecast. We’ll be focusing on the free Chrome app Videostream.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A Chromecast plugged into an HDMI port on your HDTV
- A wireless network, preferably one that utilizes wireless N for faster connections
- A smartphone, tablet, or laptop to initially set up the Chromecast
- ProShow Producer, ProShow Web or ProShow Gold (Gold requires the Devices Plug-in) to create an optimized MPEG-4 video file.
First, you’ll want to plug your Chromecast into your TV or home theater receiver and set it up so that it connects to your wireless network. The setup process requires a smartphone, tablet, or laptop – basically anything that has wireless capabilities. See this tutorial for detailed instructions.
Once you’ve gotten the Chromecast set up, you’ll want to make sure you have the Google Chrome web browser installed on the same computer where you have ProShow installed. Download and install it here if you don’t have it already. Next, you’ll want to install the Google Cast extension. This is the fundamental component that allows you to stream anything from your browser to your Chromecast. You can download it here.
The next step is installing the Videostream app for Chromecast, which will allow us to pick a video file on our computer and send it to the Chromecast. Install it here.
Now that we have everything set up for streaming, we actually need to create the video file that we’re going to be sending to the Chromecast. In ProShow Producer, open an existing show, then go to Publish > Video for Web, Devices, and Computers. From the Video File category, choose the MPEG-4 H.264 720p preset, then click Create. Make sure to save this file in a location that you’ll remember, like on your Desktop or in My Documents. Note that you can do the same thing in ProShow Gold, but you’ll need the Devices Plug-in to create the proper MPEG-4 files.
If you’re using ProShow Web and you have a Premium subscription, you can also create a 720p MPEG-4 video for streaming to Chromecast. Simply open your show, go to the Downloads + Videos tab and click the Create button in the 720p MP4 Video section. After it finishes creating, click the green Download button to save it to your computer.
Once your video has been created, you’ll want to click on the Chrome App Launcher icon on your taskbar and choose Videostream (Figure 1). The app will launch in your browser. Click the “Select a movie to play” button and choose the file that you created from ProShow (Figures 2, 3). At this point you may see the message “Initializing Communication to Chromecast; Please select a Chromecast using the Google Cast Extension”. Simply choose the name of your Chromecast from the list that is shown in the top right (Figure 4).
If everything is working as expected, your slideshow should now be playing on your TV in high definition!
Tips for Wireless Streaming:
- For best results, you’ll want to use a Wireless N or Wireless AC router. Since the Chromecast operates only on the 2.4Ghz wireless spectrum, make sure your router is set to allow wireless N or mixed-mode on the 2.4Ghz channel.
- If the video stutters or pauses during playback, you may need to change the Video Quality settings in Videostream’s configuration. Click the Gear icon at the top right of the Videostream app and change the Video Quality from High to either Adaptive or Low.