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shenstone
11th January 2009, 10:02 PM
I do quite a few AV presentations and I've been looking to change my slide show software as my current software has gone into a period of very slow development and I want some of the features that other vendors are offering

So instead of just coming up with a decision I've decided to post my thinking here. I offer my thoughts on some of the software out-there and some of my initial thoughts in the hope that it will be useful and any discussions will help me make my decision.

All three have a mass of transition effects - not many of these are of interest - I tend to use simple swap or dissolve and only very occasional other transitions as too many distracts from the pictures. I'm not therefore comparing on those. A point of interest is I chose my current software because back about 6 years ago it was the only one around with a decent dissolve that worked even on slow PC's (You often don't know what you are going to be presenting on).

They all save to a myriad of formats - the only ones that interest me are PC .exe file and DVD so no differential there.

Cost isn't a significant differential either. - see per Software.

Slide show To Go (8.7) [Current software] $19.95 Standard $24.95 includes MPEG4 + DVD authoring http://www.nightwatchsoftware.com/

Pro's


I've been using it for years so I know it well
Easy music integration fades etc, Synch a music track to all or a selection of slides and then manually adjust if you want
Full screen slide list for easy moving things around
Easy to add caption slides and spacers etc


Con's


You have to work at the screen resolution you intend to show at to get accurate placement of comments - this tends to mean I save 3 versions which is a time consuming effort for little value
Pan & Scan or Image zoom in (ken Burns effect) results in pixelation even with high res images
Portrait images come in at a strange format and need to be adjusted
Single developer so versions come out only slowly


Pictures To Exe Deluxe 5.6 (beta) Standard edition — $49, Deluxe edition — $75 (includes DVD Video) http://www.wnsoft.com/
Pro's

Very flexible UI with all sorts of views of time line and slides and whole page thumbnail view - slick !
Very active forum and it looks like regular releases
Loads of

Con's

Music sync seems very manual - either a lot of messing or fully auto with nothing much in between (or I can't find it)
DVD writing app licence expires after 2 years
Not sure how large the company behind the SW is and I don't want to be back where I am


Pro Show Gold $69.95 producer $249.95 http://www.photodex.com/
Pro's

Shows which files in a folder have been added into the show
Nice selection of file folder, and light box views ( not as slick as Pictures To Exe, but functional)
Easy music integration fades etc, Synch a music track to all or a selection of slides and then manually adjust if you want
Easy to get pan and zoom Etc


Con's

By Far the slowest to open on my PC which ain't no slouch - nearly as bad as some Microsoft bloatware
They sell a "producer" version at a much higher price and they will want to keep a differential in functionality to keep the price difference



At present - If the sound handling in PicturesToExe was slicker then that smoother UI and the fact that this isn't a company trying to get me hooked and then wanting to upgrade to something in a much higher price band then I would go for it, but that Music synch is something I really do use a lot at present and I don't think I could live without it

Like I said - any thoughts appreciated and then I have to make a decision

Regards
Andy

Zuiko
11th January 2009, 10:30 PM
Thanks for posting this, Andy, it's very timely as I've just been asked to prepare a slide show for an outdoor pusuits club of which I am a member. I wondered whether just to put a selection of images on a CD and do a completely manual talk or to look for some software to automate the presentation. Even just synchronizing some background music to the pictures, leaving me to talk at the presentation would be nice but the ability to deliver information via captions would be even slicker!

The prices you quote for "Slide Show To Go" and "Pictures To Exe" seem surprisingly reasonable (I feared expense might rule out this option) and certainly seems to warrant further investigation.

One point which I don't understand and maybe you can help with is why working at intended screen resolution in Slide Show To Go means you have to save three versions. Any other tips you can give would be greatly appreciated.

I'm afraid I can't offer any thoughts to help you make a decision yourself as I'm way out of my depth on this one, but I will be following this thread with interest!

shenstone
11th January 2009, 10:43 PM
Hi John

Slideshow to go like many of these programs supports Truetype, so when you are working on your show everything scales and shos correctly

The trouble is that the positioning and size seem to get "baked" in somehow and when I show my presentations on lowere resolution screens (such as laptops or video projectors) the comments are now larger and get cropped if they are close to the edge

I want something that will "auto-rescale" to be the same apparent size regardless of what the display resolution is

if you want a play at this game and don't want to invest massively I would still recommend it as a good way to start and learn - see my testimonial at http://www.nightwatchsoftware.com/sstg/testimonials.htm - it's the one entitled So easy, you can design a terrific presentation with one hand and hold an ice pack to your head with the other! (Huh?)

Regards
Andy

Zuiko
11th January 2009, 10:53 PM
Hi John

Slideshow to go like many of these programs supports Truetype, so when you are working on your show everything scales and shos correctly

The trouble is that the positioning and size seem to get "baked" in somehow and when I show my presentations on lowere resolution screens (such as laptops or video projectors) the comments are now larger and get cropped if they are close to the edge

I want something that will "auto-rescale" to be the same apparent size regardless of what the display resolution is

if you want a play at this game and don't want to invest massively I would still recommend it as a good way to start and learn - see my testimonial at http://www.nightwatchsoftware.com/sstg/testimonials.htm - it's the one entitled

Regards
Andy

Thanks Andy,

Seems a great piece of software for the price, I'm going to give it a try!

*chr

blu-by-u
12th January 2009, 04:22 AM
What sort of requirements? I use this software Memories to TV (http://www.codejam.com/) This software couples with TMpgEnc Plus for better rendering of the slide show. Memories on TV Pro Edition @ US$89.99 while the Home Edition @US$59.99 and the TMpgEnc would cost another US$37.00. Easy and friendly to use but costly.

mike_j
12th January 2009, 09:19 AM
I use PicturesToExe (P2E) and have done so for some time. The license covers all future upgrades (2 years on the VideoBuilder which I don't use anyway) and I have upgraded through several versions and several machines.

My main use of it is to provide packaged slide shows for other people - usually from a mix of prints, slides, and digital photos of artwork. All photo editing is done outside P2E and I just build a folder of the slides to go into the show, all the same size and reasonably matched in brightness. I do any text slides in Photoshop.

Fancy transitions I keep to a minimum and never more than two types in a show.

Audio facilities are limited. Again I do the audio in a separate application then just use P2E to include it in the finished show.

Great virtues of P2E are that it produces standalone executable files which are easy to distribute and bombproof to run, ideal whan you have a nervous speaker who isn't used to digital projectors.

Basically it is an easy to use, straightforward, program that just 'does what it says on the box'

benvendetta
12th January 2009, 01:08 PM
I have just acquired PicturesTo Exe and am about to use it to put together a slide show of my daughter's 5 month trip to Africa in 2007. I will be presenting this at my club (Cwmbran Photographic Society) in early February. I want to keep it simple so it probably won't have any music and all the transitions will be simple. From what I have seen PTE seems to fit the bill but I will post some further thoughts as I work on the project - I have hundreds of images to wade through!

shenstone
12th January 2009, 05:31 PM
Thanks for the replies so far - here are a few initial responses


Mike_J
I have to say it's those audio transitions that are keeping me away. I've got used to being able to do some reasonabl'y advanced transitions and don't want to workflow that out into another program. If I do then people seem to be suggesting Audacity - any comment

Benvendetta
Do keep it simple, but unless you're planning on manual slide advance (click) then do sriously think of a backing track - people do like the effect and simple synch is just a few clicks. There are some tutorials on their forum. If you get really stuck then pm me (I'm only about 15 miles away!)

blu-by-u
Thanks - I had come across that software, but it don't do pc .exe file as an output format - as that's how most of mine are used it's a must have feature.

Regards
Andy

mike_j
12th January 2009, 07:01 PM
Thanks for the replies so far - here are a few initial responses


Mike_J
I have to say it's those audio transitions that are keeping me away. I've got used to being able to do some reasonabl'y advanced transitions and don't want to workflow that out into another program. If I do then people seem to be suggesting Audacity - any comment

It's Audacity that I use. It's free and does all I need, it's easy enough to blend a few music tracks and add a narrative then synchronise it to the slides. It's a matter of what you need, generally my stuff is pretty simple, designed for use by a presenter rather than pure stand alone AV.

But PTE is cheap as chips and is available on trial, Audacity is free - why not give it a go?