Today’s guest post comes from writer and software reviewer, Fred J. Eckert. In this article, Fred gives his review of ProShow Producer software.
If you are, as I am, someone who seriously enjoys photography you will absolutely love knowing how to use ProShow to create slide shows — great fun and such a pleasant and powerful way to share your images with family and friends or use in business.
No longer do you need to be a pro to create terrific slide shows that inform, persuade, entertain, inspire. Nor do you need to be some tech wizard. Half of knowledge is knowing where to find it – and sometimes it’s right there waiting for you if you just pick the right products to use.
Evaluating possible choices I concluded that my best choice would be either ProShow Producer or ProShow Gold. I settled on ProShow Producer – but, yes, ProShow Gold would also have been a very good choice.
Any commentary about software for creating slide shows should mention the Wizard feature that Gold and Producer and most other such programs contain. Using it makes creating a slide show a no-brainer. Simply pick the images and/or videos you want to include in your show; create and add title pages if you wish; pick the music you want to accompany the show; choose from among available Wizard themes, which will determine which styles and transitions are then applied; and then click. Voila. You’ve just created a slide show with music timed to proper length. And it looks really, really good. To a novice. And probably to most viewers as well.
It’s quick and it’s easy. But it should come as no surprise that a lazy, no-brainer approach is gross underutilization of the potential of such software programs, especially one as good as Gold, ridiculously so in the case of Producer. So if you’ve been smart enough or lucky enough to be working with such a great slide show software program, doesn’t it seem sensible to make the effort to put your best thinking into it so you get the best possible results you are capable of getting?
By all means play around with the Wizard feature. It’s a very good way to help you more quickly determine which slide styles and transition effects you like best. You can even use the same set of images, etc. and at the press of a button redo the show it just created another way, as often as you wish, giving you a widening idea of likes and dislikes of styles and transitions and, of course, you can also play around all the more by trying out different themes. Or you can use the Wizard for some parts of your show and customize the rest.
ProShow is more intuitive than you likely imagine. Indeed its interface is so intuitive that I found myself jumping into the program right away and was figuring things out fairly well on my own – fairly well. I found repeatedly clicking on its Help tab, well, very helpful. As was clicking on the Photodex website and checking out the training videos and under Blog looking over additional tutorials and tips and getting inspiration from shows others created using ProShow.
When I made a mistake or thought of something I just had to figure out right away I called customer support – it’s free and available seven-days-a-week. Never – not once in about seven calls in which I’ve spoken with five different persons – did I encounter anyone who was less than amazingly expert about the software.
Equally rare, never did a ProShow tech support pro try to push me off to some other source for the answer to my question – the website, the manual, whatever. Never did I feel rushed. Every rep with whom I spoke not only was incredibly knowledgeable and super nice and went out of the way to be helpful, each one each time also make it a point to make sure if I was completely satisfied with and fully understood the answers and also inquired if there was anything else that could be dealt with right then to help me further.
The outstanding experiences I had dealing with customer support tech pros did wonders for my learning curve.
To try to make myself skilled with ProShow I took these two steps concurrently:
- I created a fairly good-sized show – it turned out having a hundred images and running just over ten minutes — in which I – not some automated Wizard — selected every slide style, every transition and every title page.
- Even though normally I have the typical guy attitude of “If all else fails maybe I’ll read the instructions,” while creating this show I actually sat down with my orange Sharpie highlighter in hand and read the 700+ page manual that comes with Producer cover to cover.
The manual may be thick — but it’s very well and very logically organized and remarkably clearly written and it makes everything easier to grasp than I would have imagined.
And creating a good-sized show as you simultaneously work through the manual may be very time-consuming — but it is so neat to be able to watch this style and that transition, compare them with a few or a lot others before deciding which to use and know exactly how these few or several seconds are going to look in what might be, say, a ten-minute show. You find yourself much sooner than you might have expected understanding where best to first look among the vast array of styles and effects next time you want to build a show from scratch.
I found this double-barreled approach to be enormously helpful and highly recommend it to any ProShow novice. This is, I suggest, a great way to begin turning yourself into the ProShow Wizard you’d like to become. It’s amazing how much you add to your skills almost without realizing it as you go along and how easier it become to tweak things with nice little improvements as you continue to learn more.
While I am generally very pleased with the way I went about learning ProShow Producer – I’ve examined pretty well every slide show style and transition available from Photodex and also compared against Gold — there’s one thing I would definitely change. I wish I had read Secrets of ProShow Experts before rather than after I had begun creating shows.
Much as I like to think I had a fairly good grasp of some of the techniques covered, as well as good instincts, as I read through this work by Paul Schmidt, founder and president of Photodex Corporation and creator of ProShow, I quickly realized I still had a lot to learn about basic concepts and soon found myself seeing things differently — that is, better. Having read it, I now intend to re-do the shows that I created before I had read it and I am certain they will be much improved.
This book doesn’t focus on how to master ProShow – as I’ve stated, the manual does an unusually fine job of this – but rather it’s more of a guide designed to give you a better grasp of the fundamental concepts that are so important whether you use ProShow or some other product . It shows you how to think about the slide show you wish to create and what works and does not work when it comes to creating a presentation that rises above so-so or just ordinary to truly good and effective. Use this book to help you master technique and then move on to the manual and experimentation – perhaps in concert as I’ve done and recommend — to help you master this software program technology that is so powerfully effective for creating great slide shows.
We each have our own reasons for creating slide shows and our own preferences for viewing them. I create mine for the sheer fun of it. It’s a fantastic way to put my images collection to use entertaining family and friends – and me, too.
For viewing them – final suggestion – I prefer uploading them to Vimeo. No distracting ads like you get with YouTube. It’s well worth springing for the modest fee to upgrade from free to Vimeo Plus. I code mine Private because I don’t want real pros commenting on them, although, of course, I do check out the works of pros posted on Vimeo for inspiration. So I need to assign a password for any show I code Private and include this when I email its link to anyone – no big deal.
Of all the fun I’ve had over the years viewing my own images nothing quite compares with sitting in our family room watching in brilliant high definition on a giant flat screen television slide shows that I’ve created using ProShow as my Roku device streams them to us from my Vimeo postings.