Making a Photo Slideshow using DVD slideshow GUI

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Date Added: Jun 3, 2007
Date Updated: Jun 3, 2007

Want to make a fancy slideshow for your holiday photos? Add music, animations, transitions, and burn to a DVD disc and have it play on your standalone DVD player, and do all of with only free software? Then this is the guide for you.

This guide uses DVD slideshow GUI, which packages various freeware tools to allow you to create such as slideshow DVD, all in a very easy to use interface. There are also optional parts of the guide where you can learn how to make a web viewable version of your slideshow (Flash based) and also on how to have multiple slideshows on one DVD (complete with DVD menus for selecting the slideshows).

Software you'll need (all freeware):

Hardware you'll need:

  • Optional: DVD burner

Step 1: Installation

Installation is easy, just download DVD slideshow GUI and run the installer and follow the instructions. Easy!

Step 2: Creating the slideshow

Start DVD slideshow GUI. From the "Options" menu, select "Presets" (or press "F7"). This opens the Presets window, which allows you to configure the properties of your slideshow.

DVD slideshow GUI: Presets

We will now go through the preset settings:

  • PAL/NTSC: This option allows you to specify the system setting for your project (PAL => UK, Australia, most of Europe, China; NTSC => US, Canada, Japan), and also whether the project is widescreen (16:9) of full-frame (4:3).

  • Safe area: This indicates the overscan setting. Older TVs have overscan, which means they will deliberately zoom in on the video so that the border is cut off, so as to not show any black border around the video. The safe area is marked by dotted red lines in the preview area - it is also best to ensure your slide and subtitles are within this area.

  • Border: This adds a white border around the photo

  • Subtitles: Each of your slides can have a subtitle, which is just a text description/commentary for the slide. Enable this option to enable the subtitle, and then click on the "Font" button to change the font of the subtitle. The subtitle will be displayed like any other subtitles on DVDs, and can be turned off.

  • Music: You can use this button to load in a music file for your slideshow in MP3 or WAV format. If the length of the music/audio is shorter than the length of the slideshow, the audio will be repeat itself over, and you will get silence for the rest of the slideshow.

  • Import Settings: This allow you to set the default transition settings for imported photos. Exposition is the number of frames the photo will show before it transitions into the next photo. Duration is the length, again in frames, of the transition itself. For PAL @ 25 FPS, 100 frames => 4 seconds ; NTSC @ 29.976 FPS, 100 frames => 3 seconds.

Now we will import the photos into the DVD slideshow GUI. From the "File" menu, select "Import" (or press CTRL-I, or use the "Import" button) to open the image importer. Here, you can load your photos or even video files. I prefer to first copy all the photos I want to make the slideshow from into a new folder, this way the import is done easily. Press the "change dir" button to go to the directory that has your photos. Use your mouse to drag, or hold CTRL or SHIFT and the mouse pointer to group select the photos you want to import (holding CTRL and clicking the mouse will select individual photos, while holding SHIFT and clicking will select groups of photos). Press "OK" and all the selected photos will be loaded into DVD slideshow GUI.

DVD slideshow GUI: Import

Back to the main DVD slideshow GUI interface, all your photos should now be loaded. From the "File" menu, select "Save as" to save your project - you should periodically save your project as you make changes, to prevent you from losing all your work.

You can use the Up and Down arrows to change the ordering of the slides. Just like during importing, you can use your mouse to drag and select the slides, or hold CTRL or SHIFT to group select. You can then right click on the selected slide(s) and it will open the transition the Slide Settings window. Here, you can enter the subtitle for the selected slide(s), set the transition effect and exposition/duration setting for each slide.

DVD slideshow GUI: Slide Settings

A fast way to configure all the slides at once is to use the "Select all slides" button on the main DVD slideshow GUI interface (DVD slideshow GUI: Select All or press CTRL-A) and then clicking on the "Slide settings" button (DVD slideshow GUI: Slide Settings). Use the "Random" transition setting and random effects will be used.

Similar to the way you apply slide settings, you can also apply animation to each slide. Select the slide you want to add animation to and then click on the "Animation" button (DVD slideshow GUI: Animation). This opens the animation window.

DVD slideshow GUI: Animation Settings

You can use one of the pre-defined presets to apply animation to the current slide, or you can create your own. The slider shows you the entire length of the animation (dependent on your "Exposition" setting for this slide), with the frame number being shown. To create your own animation, you will have to define several points to indicate what the animated slide would look like at this point (this is referred to as setting a keyframe), and then the software will automatically transform the image from one point to the other using animation. For example, if you drag the slider to the end and then flip the photo 90 degrees, the animation generated will flip the photo at a speed where by the end it will have flipped the photo by 90 degrees. You can also apply zoom and movement to the animation. Use your left mouse button to re-position the image, the right mouse button to zoom in and out and the middle mouse button (wheel button) to flip the slide. And then click on the "Set Key" button to set a keyframe (use the "Remove Key" button to remove the keyframe and start again). For example:

  1. Drag the slider to the middle (frame 50)
  2. Use the left, right and wheel button to manipulate the photo
  3. Click on the "Set Key" button (DVD slideshow GUI: Set Key) to set the keyframe
  4. Drag the slider to the end (frame 100)
  5. Click on the "Set Key" button again to make the slide stay the same between frame 50 and 100, or you can apply more transformations
  6. Click on the "Preview Animation" button (DVD slideshow GUI: Preview Animation) to preview the animation
Press "OK" when you are satisfied with your animation to return to the main DVD slideshow GUI interface.

You can now select the "Preview" option from the "Options" menu (or press the "Preview" button DVD slideshow GUI: Preview) to preview the entire slideshow - it might take a few minutes or longer (depending on how many slides you have) to generate the preview.

Once you are completely satisfied with your slideshow, select "Export" from the File menu (or click on the "Export" button - DVD slideshow GUI: Export). There are many export options - for making a DVD, the most obvious options are exporting to an ISO file or a DVD folder ready for burning with ImgBurn. A chapter stop will be created at the start of each new slide, for your convenience.

If you choose to export to an ISO file, you can then burn the resulting ISO file using ImgBurn - instructions here. If you want to test your creation before burning, you might have to mount the ISO using a image tool like DAEMON Tools and then play through your normal software DVD player.

If you choose to export to a DVD folder, you can then burn the DVD folder using ImgBurn as well - instructions here. You can test your creation before burning by using a DVD player capable of playing DVD folders, for example PowerDVD.

If you choose the above two options, then this guide is finished for you. Otherwise, continue on.

If you want to put multiple slideshows on one single DVD, which is a good idea since a slideshow of about 20 photos with music (at the default exposition and durations) will only occupy about 70 MB, then read on to the next page (Step 3: Multiple slideshows on a single DVD). If you want to put your slideshow on the web, then skip the next page too and go to "Step 4: Exporting your slideshow to the web".

Step 3: Multiple slideshows on a single DVD

This step will show you how to put multiple slideshows created by DVD slideshow GUI onto a single DVD.

The first thing to do is to export the slideshow using the ".all" option - this will export the slideshow to several files, .m2v (video), .ac3 (audio), .ssa (subtitles) and .txt (chapters). I like to create a new folder for each slideshow, so my files don't get mixed together. Do this for each slideshow.

DVD slideshow GUI: Export .all

We will then use a DVD authoring tool to combine all these files together into a DVD. The easiest way to do this is to use DVD Flick - unfortunately, it won't create a menu, but instead, will play one slideshow after the other and it also loses the chapter information. If you don't mind these inconveniences, then you can read our AVI to DVD using DVD Flick Guide to find out how to do this (even though the guide is for AVI files, it is easily applied to any other file input, including M2V) - when using the guide, create a title for each slideshow and also don't forget to load in your audio (.ac3) and subtitle (.ssa) files.

If you want menus, subtitles and to keep the chapter stops, then the recommended tool is GUI for dvdauthor. GUI for dvdauthor is a fairly advanced tool. We won't have the space in this guide to cover all the features (perhaps something best left to a dedicated GUI for dvdauthor guide), so we will only concentrate on the basics of creating a multi-slideshow DVD with a select menu.

First, download and install GUI for dvdauthor. Start the application.

From the "Settings" menu, select "Project". Change the "Output Directory" to somewhere where you want the output DVD files to be located. Check the "Delete temp. files" option to delete the temporary files generated by GUI for dvdauthor. Select "PAL" or "NTSC" to match what you selected under DVD slideshow GUI. Press "Save" to save these settings.

GUI for dvdauthor: Project Settings

From the "File" menu, select "Save as" to save your project - you should periodically save your project as you make changes, to prevent you from losing all your work.

Right click on the main area to the right (menu preview area), which represents the layout of the DVD menu and select "Menu Properties". Here, you can adjust the properties of the menu, in particular, choosing a background image or music (in AC3 format). There are also settings for highlighted/activated items. In the screenshot below, I have selected one of the pictures in my slideshow as the background, and the audio track for one of the slideshows as the background music to the menu.

GUI for dvdauthor: Menu Properties

From the "Source" directory browser on the left, locate your saved slideshows and it should list the ".m2v" file in the space just below. Click and drag the .m2v file over to the menu preview area.

GUI for dvdauthor: Source

Once you drag over the m2v file, the "Video + Audio files" window should pop up - we will load in our audio, subtitle and chapter files here. The audio file should have been loaded by default. You need to click on the folder icon (GUI for dvdauthor: folder icon) to load in your subtitle file (.ssa). Repeat with your chapter information file (.txt). Press "OK" to continue.

GUI for dvdauthor: Source

After you have loaded in all your slideshows, the names of the slideshows should appear on the menu preview area - this is actually the clickable button that selects which slideshow to play. Right click on each of the names and you can change the displayed title/name for each slideshow, as well as the font.

GUI for dvdauthor: Edit Button

You can arrange the position of buttons to your liking. Please note that you cannot position the buttons too closely together, or you might get a warning when you try to preview the menu.

The "Insert" section at the top allows you to insert other text or images into the menu.

GUI for dvdauthor: Insert

Once you are happy with your menu, you can click on the "Preview" button at the top to preview what the menu will look like.

GUI for dvdauthor: Preview

Once you are happy with your creation (now is a good time to save the project again), press the "Create DVD" button to create the DVD. You can click on the "Burn DVD" button to burn the DVD straight to disc if you have Nero installed, but even so, I like to use the Create DVD feature so I can test the DVD before burning. The log window should show up and when everything is finished, there should be a green tick.

GUI for dvdauthor: Log

The DVD files should be created in the directory you specified in Project Settings, and you can test your creation by using a DVD player capable of playing DVD folders, for example PowerDVD. You can then burn the DVD folder using ImgBurn - instructions here.

This guide is now finished, unless you want to continue on and learn how to export your slideshow to your website.

Step 4: Exporting your slideshow to the web

This step will show you how to export your slideshow to Flash Video format and put the slideshow on your webpage.

The first thing to do is to export the slideshow using the "Flash Files (.flv)" option - this will export the slideshow to a FLV file.

GUI for dvdauthor: Export .flv

The "FLV exporter options" window should open up, and here you can configure the FLV export options. For movie size, the bigger the size, the better the quality, but it will take much longer to load/stream the video. Typically, 320x*** works well. For framerate, choose 24 for NTSC or 25 for PAL (the system does not really matter that much for web formats though). The bitrate option will depend on the resolution you have chosen - I find that 360 is the bare minimum for 320x*** resolution - higher resolutions will need a higher bitrate. The audio options, similarly, determine the final file size and the default options (64 kbps, 22050 Hz, Stereo) should be good enough (or disable audio if your slideshow does not have an audio track). Finally, copy the HTML code (used to display the FLV player) in the textbox by using the "Copy to Clipboard" button (best to paste it in a text file for now, as opposed to keeping it in your clipboard and accidentally overwriting it by copying some other object/text). Press "Okay" to start the export.

GUI for dvdauthor: FLV exporter options

Once the export is done, you should have a .flv file. Now back to the HTML code you copied to your clipboard/text file - note that the code makes references to a file called "flvplayer.swf" - this is the "Flash Video Player" file, and you need to download this file from this page. Extract the flvplayer.swf from the package and upload it somewhere to your website (note that you only need one copy of this file on your website - the same file can be used for all your FLV files). Also upload the .flv file generated by DVD slideshow GUI to your website. You now need to modify the code to replace the "" links with actual links to the swf and flv file (see bold text below). For example, the following code is used to display the player interface shown just below it:

<object width="320" height="240" classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" codebase=",0,0,0"> <param name="flashvars" value="file=" /> <param name="movie" value="" /> <embed src="" width="320" height="240" bgcolor="#FFFFFF" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="" flashvars="file=" /> </object>

That's all folks.

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