by John Stein
I create about 10 DVD slide shows each month for my wedding and portrait clients, and I am always looking for an easier way to get the job done.
ProShow Producer is one of the easiest programs that I have found for making DVDs for clients. Within 20 minutes of installing the program I was burning a DVD, using just the quick start guide. This was a very simple presentation of around 200 images using a single transition style.
I wanted to go further into the program and see how difficult—or easy—it would be to create a presentation using multiple transitions and a larger amount of images. Once again, the program surprised me with its ease of use. It was a simple task to create a presentation that I could use to promote my company and another that I can use when I speak at camera clubs to promote the state PPA affiliate association I belong to.
Unlike some of the DVD/slide show programs I have used in the past, where you can only use JPG files, ProShow Producer allows you to use TIFF, JPEG and RAW files in the program.
Everything is laid out well from the opening screen (Figure 1) to the transitions page (Figure 2). Most of the image adjustments, such as hue, brightness, contrast, sharpening and image rotation can be done right in the application (Figure 3). You can also set up ProShow Producer to go to your favorite image editing software when you want to perform edits beyond its scope.
The image layout and even the music for the presentation is done via a drag-and-drop method. As for transitions between images, you can either set one transition for all of the slides or you can individually set each photo's transition effect.
You can actually create a slide that has different images, each having its own motion effect. Motion effects, like the Ken Burns style pan and zoom, are done in a separate screen with an easy-to-understand interface (Figure 4).
When using music in your presentation you can set the slide show to sync with the music or you can use the Record Slide Timing feature (Figure 5) to custom set the slide times and transitions to the music.
Once I had the presentation laid out with the music and transitions to my satisfaction, I decided I wanted to add captioning to some of the slides. This was a breeze. You can actually design a caption that will be consistent for all of the slides or something unique for individual slides. You can also add a motion effect to the captions. Captions are useful especially in promotional slide shows, and the ability to do this in the program instead of having to add text to an image is a great asset.
One of the nicest features of ProShow Producer is the ability to create DVD, Video CD (a CD viewable on a DVD player), Executable CD, Auto Run CD and Web page slide shows, all from the same program. Basically just create your show one time and then designate the output you desire.
Another feature that I like is the ability to brand your Auto Run, Executable, Video CD slide shows and the Web site slide shows with your own logo and information. Branding allows you to promote your own company and not the company that creates the software.
This review just scratches the surface of all the features. You can fade audio tracks in and out, watermark images, incorporate interactivity functions to your images, and create custom menus, streaming web shows, and even MPEG and AVI video files.
The only feature I didn't like about ProShow Producer is a hardware key. Most programs need to be registered by either filling out a form online or by doing a mail-in registration form. ProShow Producer uses a hardware key that plugs into a USB port on your computer. This eliminates the need to connect to the Internet or to mail in a registration form, but the hardware key needs to be in the USB port at all times when using ProShow Producer, and if you lose the key you have to buy the application again. If you damage the key, though, they'll replace it.
ProShow Producer is an easy to use program that allows you to create just about any form of slide show that you will ever need to produce.
John Stein has been a professional photographer for 13 years and owns Special Moments Photography Located in Middletown Maryland. He received his CPP in 2000 and his Craftsman degree in 2005. He is currently the First Vice President, webmaster, newsletter editor and convention chairman for the Maryland Professional Photographers Association. He is also one of the honorary Trustees for PPA charities.
ProShow Producer is available now at a special introductory offer for $399.95, or $349.95 if you already own ProShow Gold. ProShow Producer is a Windows-only application.
Minimum System Requirements: Pentium II processor or compatible. 256 MB memory. Accelerated graphics card. Windows XP or 2000. 55 MB free hard drive space for installation, additional space for show data. Direct X 8.0 or higher. Available USB port.
Recommended System Requirements: Pentium 4 processor or compatible. 512 MB memory. Accelerated AGP graphics card. Windows XP or 2000. DVD+/- R drive. 55 MB free hard drive space for installation, additional space for show data. DirectX 9 or higher. Available USB port. Note: Processor speed, amount of RAM and video card speed will affect performance of show creation and playback.