More digital slideshows

Last week I discussed a program that will allow you to package up your digital pictures as a slideshow to send to Auntie Mabel living overseas.

Today, I’ve got two other possibilities for creating photo slideshows or movies. These include Google’s Picasa image viewer (picasa.google.com), which is free and makes creating movies very easy, and Pictures2Exe which is also very easy to use, but not free.

Picasa is Google’s image viewer and organiser and can be used to copy pictures from any source, like a camera, onto your computer. It is quite powerful and to can be used to fix and apply special effects to pictures, send them by e-mail, create contact sheets, burn pictures onto CDs, and export web pages.

Among its many talents is the ability to make movies out of any combination of pictures and existing video clips that you might have. It doesn’t offer many options during the process of creating a movie but this will be viewed by most as a blessing because there are no confusing choices.

All you do is select your pics, movie clips and a tune for the background music, if you want that. The only other options are adding a caption to each picture, choosing the size that the movie will be, and what transition to use between pictures.

You then click the Create Movie button which, if your computer is any thing like mine, will take quite some time, depending on the number of pictures that you’ve included in your movie. Once the hard drive on the computer stops whirring, you’ll get the option of exporting your movie as Windows Media Video (WMV) file, or uploading it to YouTube.

WMV files will play on any computer which has Windows media player installed on it cannot burn the movie to a DVD disc in such a way that it will play on any common DVD player. You will need some extra software to create a DVD from the files you create.

Just before I leave Picasa, I should mention that it does have one other interesting feature which is that it can create a picture collage out of any number of pictures that you select.

Last week I suggested that you try Microsoft picture story, and this week have gone into a little bit of detail about Google’s Picasa program. The final word on the subject for the time being at least, is that I would preferably not use either of these programs but, instead, one called Pictures2Exe.

I have been using a very old version of it and, although I find it now costs $49 for the standard version, it would still be my preferred solution. Like the others, it makes assembling the pictures for your show very easy but it offers far more control and flexibility of output.

By default, it creates a slideshow in a single file, that can be played on any PC, but it will also export your slideshow in video format, upload your files to YouTube or Vimeo, and the Deluxe version can also directly create DVDs. The new version includes a lot of visual effects such as panning and zooming, narration for individual pictures and plenty besides.

Trial versions of Pictures2Exe are available from their website (www.wnsoft.com) but, be warned, the trial version is severely limited and can only import 10 pictures at a time. It also puts a watermark on your shows but, it’s enough to give you a general idea of the program’s capabilities so you can gauge whether you’d be prepared to shell out your hard earned money for it.

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