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Digital Slide Shows


Short QuickTime clips can help us communicate a variety of messages with little effort ... that is, if you know the shortcuts. I use QuickTime for distributing audio, video, slide shows, and even straight text with voiceover. I like the QT format because it is completely cross-platform and the files can be placed on any web page or attached to e-mail.

In this first installment of QuickTime Authoring, I'm going to introduce you to one of the most basic, yet effective uses of QuickTime: digital slide shows.

Cross-platform digital slide shows

I consider digital slide shows a powerful medium for communicating place and time. Slide show advantages are:

  • Web-ready shows can be put together quickly thanks to digital cameras that are now affordable and easy to use.
  • Slide shows are easy to edit and therefore are often more "to the point" than video presentations.
  • Audio and text tracks are easily added and elevate the presentation to beyond what you can do in basic HTML.
  • Slide shows are very portable and play on both Macs and PCs.

How to create a basic slide show

I've written a number of QuickTime tutorials of how to create these presentations. An recent entry-level piece can be found at titled, Soccer Salsa. This article was written for folks who like to take pictures of their kids at soccer games, but who weren't using those images to their full potential. Instead of just filing the images away in an old shoebox, why not make a dynamic presentation for family and friends? In the article, I discuss the whole process from taking the pictures, creating the slide show, and adding the audio, to exporting the show for publishing on the Web.

Learning about basic QuickTime functionality

If you'd like a little QuickTime primer before jumping in and authoring content, hop over to where I have a three-part series that covers the basic functionality of QuickTime 4. Here are the articles:

Sample slide shows

So what do these slide shows look like anyway? I have three samples to show you that were created for different audiences.

  • Wine Country Wedding is a 2-minute slide show created for the newlyweds to show to their relatives scattered through the U.S. The file size is 1.5 MB. The rolling titles at the beginning and the end of the show will be the subject of my next column.
  • Soccer Salsa runs 46 seconds and is only a 490k file. Its titles were created using AppleScript -- which I'll also cover in the next column.
  • Nature Images of Northern California runs 1 minute, 16 seconds and is a 628k file. You'll notice that all the images are vertical instead of the normal horizontal orientation. QuickTime can accommodate just about any window size, as long as all of your slides are exactly the same dimensions.

Next installment

In my next column, I'll show you some easy ways to create titles for your shows. This enhancement gives them a real professional touch. Future columns will cover music, copyright issues, SMIL, XML, QuickTime 5, and of course, iMovie. See you then.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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