Make a DVD Slide Show

Take your pictures (digital photos) and burn them to a professional looking DVD slide show that can be seen on your TV.

There are several software packages that allow you to take your photos, link them together with transitions, add music and produce an output that can be shown on your computer or burnt to a DVD for use in your TV’s DVD player. Each package has it’s own pluses and minuses. I played with a few and found that Microsoft’s Photo Story 3 had some benefits that I liked.

1-It worked; not that other packages didn’t work, they were just a little tricky at times or didn’t have some of the features that I liked. Photo Story 3 has most of the features that someone would typically need: simple picture touch ups, special effects, add sounds and titles, and various outputs. It also has a custom motion feature that adds a nice feel to the final output.
2-The cost; it’s free. You can’t beat that unless you can find someone to pay you for using their software.

Photo Story 3 does not actually burn CD’s or DVD’s so a separate burning software package is needed. I used Nero Version 6 as it was already installed on my PC. You can purchase a Sonic add-in for Photo Story 3 but there are several comments in the forums from people who have done this and had problems with their output quality. From what I’ve read, a separate burning software package is better. Also, I have an optional step to the burning process which requires an separate package outside of Photo Story 3.

To get Photo Story 3, go to the Microsoft web page at photostory/default.mspx
From here you can download the application, read the marketing fluff, check out “Create your first photo story” and get some tips. While you are at it, check out these web sites too as there is a lot of helpful information there:

Before you start with any of this you should check out the minimum system requirements. There is nothing special required aside from Windows XP and any PC manufactured in the last couple of years will work. Having said that, I did have problems with my configuration. Without getting into too much detail (most of which I forget anyway) I’ll summarize my problem.

  • Photo Story 3 has different profiles that can be used to specify the output format and quality. It is recommended in the forums that profiles from PapaJohn (see link above) be used when a DVD output file is created as these profiles give better results.
  • I used various profiles in Photo Story 3 and was able to produce the output without any problems. So far so good. But…
  • When using a PapaJohn profile to produce the DVD output file and then processing the file in Nero, the Nero application would crash. The window would disappear but the image was still loaded in memory and required a ctrl-alt-delete to remove it.
  • Processing a few pictures with the PapaJohn profile would work but my entire project (just over 100 pictures) would always fail.
  • I had to upgrade Windows Media Player (WMP) to version 11 to get around the problem. But… (there’s that word again) upgrading WMP caused my MP3 player to stop working so I then had to reinstall WMP version 10 to get the MP3 player working so that I could upgrade its firmware and then reinstall WMP version 11.

Back to making my story short, make sure you have the latest versions of Photo Story 3, Windows Media Player, Windows Movie Maker and the WMA plug-in for Nero. [I found the WMA plug-in called WMAPlugin20937.exe at download_other.php?pak=wma but this link is no longer valid. Hopefully you can find it on the web somewhere or you have a newer version of Nero that does not require the plug-in.]

Well, enough already, let’s get started:
– Start Photo Story 3
– Select Begin a new story, press Next>
– Select Import pictures, browse to where your pictures are located and select a picture or multiple pictures. This selection process can be PS3 Importrepeated many times to add more pictures to the project. [For the example shown here, I’ve selected five of the example pictures that come with Windows.]

Save Project…” It’s a good idea to save your work up to this point in case your system crashes, power fails or some other Murphy’s Law event destroys all of your work.

Press “Next>“. Because the pictures that I selected have black borders on them, Photo Story 3 asks if I want to continue or remove the borders. For this demo I answered CONTINUE but feel free to remove any borders (crop the picture) as the output would look better.

PS3 TitleA title can be added to one or more of the pictures; you may want to do this to the first picture in your project. Simply select the picture and enter the title into the text box on the right hand side. Hint: If you want a title on a picture (let’s say the first one) but don’t want to cover up it up with text you can do this… Import the first picture again (use the “<Back” button), import the picture, click on the new picture (at the end of the time line) and slide it to the point after the one with the text. You now have two pictures of the same scene, one with text and one without. This window also allows various effects (black and white, water colour, etc) that can be applied to a picture, if you want to, by selecting the drop down under the picture.

Press “Next>“. PS3 NarrateThis step allows you to record a narration as you move through the pictures. I didn’t bother with this step as music is added later.

At this point, the motion (zoom in/out and panning) has been applied to the pictures. You can use the Preview button to see the result of your project so far. At times, the motion may not be right for one of the pictures. For example, the motion may zoom into a portion of the picture that is not of any interest or into someone’s feet instead of their face.PS3 Custom If you want to change the motion for one of the pictures you simply select that picture and press the “Custom Motion…” button. From here you can set your own start and end position for the motion. By this I mean that you can select the part of the picture to be displayed at the start of the clip and a different part to be displayed at the end of the clip. This gives the effect of zooming into or out of the picture or even panning. If you followed the hint above about adding a title and a second copy of the picture you need to change the motion of the second picture to start where the first one ended. This gives the effect of the title fading away before the end of the clip. PS3 Transition

While in this Customize Motion section you can select the “Transition” tab to be able to select one of several different types of transitions into the picture.

Save Project…” It is a good idea to save your work up to this point in case your system crashes, power fails or some other Murphy’s Law event destroys all of your work.

Press “Next>“.PS3 Music
Here is the place where you can add background music to the project. Music files in MP3, WAV or WMP format can be loaded into the project or Photo Story 3 can even create a synthesized sequence that can be used. The synthesized music is good for filling small sound gaps in the project. There are many styles that can be created; try several of them. PS3 Create MusicAs music files are added to the project the duration of them is shown on the time line just above the pictures. This shows on which picture the music will cut out and start the next piece. When using synthesized music, the rest of the time line fills with your selection but you can start another selection on one of the following pictures.

Save Project…” It is a good idea to save your work up to this point in case your system crashes, power fails or some other Murphy’s Law event destroys all of your work. You may want to use a file name that is different than the previous save in the event something goes wrong while the file is being written.

Press “Next>“.
Saving your story.
PS3 Save Now that you have all of your pictures included and you have added the music you need to create the output WMV file. This is the only file format that can be created. Since the intent here is to create an output file for later burning we need to select the “Save your story for playback on your computer” activity.

Enter the path and filename that you want to call the output file or use the “Browse…” button to go to the folder you want and enter the filename.
Press the “Settings…” button and select the profile for your intended viewing (small computer window, email, DVD). PS3 SettingsSince I’ve added the PapaJohn profiles (refer to the top of this article) to my installation of Photo Story 3 I am using one of those profiles. “Save Project…” I’ve said this many times already but if you haven’t done it yet… save your project now.

Press “Next>“. At this point the four step “Building Your Story” process is started. Sit back and wait for the output file to be created. When done, you can select “View your story” to watch your newly created WMV file using Windows Media Player. If you find that something is not quite right with your project and you want to make changes you can simply use the “<Back” button or restart Photo Story 3, select “Edit a project”, select your project (you did save it, right!) and go through the steps until you reach the section that needs to be modified. Make your changes, save the changes and create another output file.

Now comes the second half of the process, creating the actual DVD.

As I mentioned earlier, I already have Nero installed so that is what I use to burn the DVD. There are two main functions to be performed, create the file that is to be burnt to the DVD and actually burning the DVD. You may say that you already have the file from Photo Story 3 and simply want to copy it to a DVD. You can do that but you end up with a data disk that works only in computers and it will not work in a DVD player. Movie DVD’s have their own format of how the data is laid out on the disk so we need to use that format.

Here are the steps:

Start->All Programs->Nero->Nero Digital->NeroVision Express
Select Make DVD followed by DVD-Video.
Nero Start
Nero Add Now select Add Video Files…

Select the .WMV file that was produced by Photo Story 3. The file is loaded into Nero. The graph at the bottom of the screen shows how much space will be used on the DVD. In this example of five pictures there is very little space being used.

Select “Next>“.
Nero Menu Here we setup the menu that is to be used at the start of a DVD. Select the “Edit Menu…” button that is under the main picture and move the cursor over to “Layout” and pick the layout for your menu. For my example I’ve picked ‘Layout 3’. There are many other settings that can be changed at this point.Nero Title Move the cursor down to “Header/Footer Text” and then across to the text boxes and fill in an appropriate title for your DVD. Some of the other settings are background picture, button styles, fonts, text shadows, etc.

Select “Next>“.

Change ‘Menus to use‘ to be ‘Title menus only‘. I don’t fully understand the difference between the various selections yet but this is what I have been using.

Select “Next>“. Nero DemoWe are almost done. You can demo what you have so far. Try it. If something does not look or feel right you can co back and make some alterations. When you are happy with what you have so far go to the next step.

Select “Next>“.

Make your option selections on this screen. Nero OptionsFirst of all, select “Write to Hard Disk Folder” and select a folder to place your output data. Note that the output will be a folder called “VIDEO_TS” and there will be several files in this folder. Why am I creating and output file instead of burning the DVD now you ask. You’ll see.

Select “Save” which saves the Nero project (menus, titles, etc.)

Nero WriteSelect “Write“. This step creates a set of files that are required for burning to the DVD. As mentioned earlier, the DVD is not being burnt at this point; the DVD data is being created and saved to the hard drive. Go take a break as this step takes some time to complete.

Now it is time to burn (create) the DVD disk. Finally, it took us long enough to get here!

Start the Nero burning software …

Start->All Programs->Nero->Nero 6 Ultra Edition->Nero Burning ROM [your version may be different from Nero 6]

The New Compilation window pops up.
Select DVD from the drop down menu
Select DVD-Video from the icons
Select the Label tab and enter a name

Nero NewSelect “New“. A new screen is displayed that has a folder tree on the left side.

Leave the AUDIO_TS folder empty.

Single click the VIDEO_TS folder to select it.
Copy all of the output files (.VOB, .BUP, .IFO) that were created in the NeroVision Express step to this folder by dragging the files into the large window on the right side.

This next step is purely optional. I do this so that when I share the DVD with friends and family and someone sees a picture in the DVD video that they want a copy of, they can put the DVD into a computer to access copies of the original pictures for printing. If you want to do the same thing follow these steps:
Create a new folder called Pictures
-right click on the top level folder with the little disk icon and select “Create Folder”
-rename the folder to Pictures or any name that you like (single click on the folder name to change it)
-you can copy all of your original pictures that you used in Photo Story 3 into the this Pictures folder.
Nero VOB
[Make sure that you do not try to put too much data on the DVD; keep an eye on the blue line on the bottom of the window.]

Make sure that you have a blank DVD in your DVD writer. Note that it is better to use -R or +R media than -R/W or +R/W as they are usually more compatible with DVD players.

Select the “Recorder” menu item followed by “Burn Compilation…” or press the disk with the lit match icon.
Now press the “Burn” button. Now sit back and watch all of your work get written to the DVD!
You can save this Nero compilation for burning more copies later. You can burn several copies at this time by changing the number of copies before pressing the “Burn” button. You should probably test your first DVD in a DVD player before burning multiple copies.