How many people out there have hundreds, if not thousands, of digital pictures stored on their computers accumulated over years that no one has ever seen? Me! Thankfully, I try to upload most of my pictures to free online photo sharing sites like Picasa and Flickr to at least get some return on the time I spent actually taking all of those pictures.
However, I noticed that not too many of my friends nor my family really care to wade through hundreds of pictures, usually the same scene, just a different angle, because it’s boring. That’s where photo slideshows come in handy. You can make yourself look pretty suave by creating fancy slideshows with customized music, titles, and more using some very easy-to-use and free tools.
Here’s a list and a short feature run-down on some of my favorite photo slideshow apps:
Even though lots of Microsoft software is buggy, they do occasionally come out with some really good software. Microsoft Photo Story is a free way to create video "stories" from your digital pictures by having the ability to add effects, record your own voice/add music tracks, and add titles. You can basically create a small movie that conveys a story in pictures, words and sounds. The program is very intuitive and doesn’t crash, at least on my PC!
Photo Story has lots of built in transitions that you can apply to your pictures, such as panning, zooming, flipping, wiping, etc. It also has the usual set of special effects such as black and white, sepia, or watercolor. The best part of the software, however, is the fact that it makes it super easy to share your super slideshow with anyone. Photo Story automatically compresses your photos and creates a single file that you can then take anywhere. You can have it emailed, saved onto your Smartphone or PocketPC, and lots more.
(2) Google Picasa
Picasa is another free program, from Google this time, that you can use to create slideshows of your digital pictures. With Picasa, however, you cannot export a slideshow out to a single file and share that with others. You can only create and play slideshows of your pictures in Picasa itself. You can use it, however, to create photo screensavers and photo movies on your PC. Photo movies are basically slideshows that you can save out to a video file and email or burn to CD/DVD.
Picasa does not have nearly as many options for configuring your photo video or slideshow as Photo Story does, but it has another cool feature called Templates. Using these templates, you can create beautiful HTML and Flash photo galleries without having to know anything about either! Check out some cool templates here and read this guide on how to install and use Picasa templates.
Don’t feel like installing software onto your computer for making slideshows? Check out Smilebox slideshows, a free way to create slideshows online directly in your web browser. You can choose from hundreds of themes for your slideshow, and you can import music, videos, photos, and add text to your slideshow (more like Photo Story in that respect).
Once you’ve created a slideshow, Smilebox makes it a piece of cake to share with others either via email, via your blog, or via regular printed paper. The other nice feature about Smilebox is that you can use it to create Facebook and MySpace slideshows, which can be automatically uploaded without you having to do anything.
PictureTrail.com probably has the largest collection of cool looking designs and styles for creating a slideshow. I was impressed with the number of different slideshow variations they have on their site. The only problem that I have with PictureTrail is their annoying sign up process. You have to enter in useless information like your birthdate (why do they need it) and you have to click through several ads (you can just click Skip at the bottom) before you get into the main part of the site.
However, once you’re in, the site is fine and does not bombard you with ads or anything like that. They have a good number of options you can configure for your slideshows, including skins, borders, effects like glitter, backgrounds, and captions. Overall, it’s a pretty nice service if you want to create a jazzed up slideshow. Definitely geared more towards the younger crowd.
I actually like Slide better than PictureTrail because it’s cleaner, has more options, and doesn’t even require you to create an account. Slide allows you to choose files from your computer, lets you search online for pictures, or let’s you import from a whole host of sites like Friendster, Bebo, MySpace, Photobucket, Facebook, Flickr, and more. You can also select multiple files at once to upload from your computer.
On the right hand side, you can change the style, modify the theme, add music and video, change the background, add special effects, change the size of the slideshow window, and even control privacy settings on who can and cannot see your slideshow. You have, of course, several options for sharing your slideshow easily.
Hope this helps put more people’s pictures to use! If you have taken great pictures, why are you the only one to have seen them! Download a slideshow app, create something special, and make someone happy! Enjoy!