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12 Steps to a Successful Slideshow Production
By Sandra Clukey

Planning is the key word for creating a successful slideshow. This is not difficult, but does require time and effort on your part before hiring a professional slideshow creating company to create your unique video slideshow. Here are some steps you can follow to insure a beautiful slideshow production.

1. Determine how long you want your slideshow to be. The length of your slideshow will determine how many photos you can use. If you are using the simple fade-in fade-out style, you can usually use up to 85 pictures for a 10 minute show. That is about all most audiences can comfortably handle with such a simplified slideshow. On the other hand, when you choose our traditional plus or creative packages that has more creative elements included in the slideshow production, then those same 85 photos may turn into a 12 minute slideshow. The wonderful thing is that the more creative a slideshow is, the longer it can last because the time will actually seem shorter to the viewers. A 20 minute creative slideshow can feel like only 10 minutes, where a 10 minute fade-in, fade-out slideshow can feel like 20 minutes to a lot of people. As we all know, we don’t always enjoy viewing one another's photos for a long period of time. So, the more creative the show, the longer it can play and your audience will not get bored or restless and will not even realize how much time has passed. From the beginning of the slideshow to the end it will be immensely fun and enjoyable to your audience.

Here's one story: Sands of Time Multimedia Creations did a video slideshow for a church that went on a mission trip. We were given hundreds of photos to work with and the end result was a one hour video slideshow presentation. As the youth gathered around to see this, they were not at all excited at the prospect of watching photo after photo for one straight hour. However, as soon as the video started they noticed immediately that this was not your photo-after-photo slideshow. Their attention was captured from the beginning to the ending as they laughed, cried, and cheered. At the end they were surprised it was over and stated that they had no idea an hour had passed and they all purchased their own copy of the video. Creativity - the key to a truly great slideshow presentation!

Click here to view a short sample of a Sands of Time creative style slideshow:

2. Please Your Audience – If possible include some photos of the people who will be viewing the presentation. Everyone loves to see themselves light up on the big screen! It will make them feel a part your special event and keep their interest peaked to see who will be showing up next. In addition, include credits in the slide show when applicable, such as for weddings. Give credit to mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, friends, bridal party, and anyone else to whom credit is due.

To view a sample of a Sands of Time slideshow credits page click here:

3. Decide Your Theme - Choosing your theme will help you choose your photos.

A. Do you want your slideshow to span the life of an individual?

B. Is more than one person’s life going to be featured in this slideshow? If so, do you want their lives shown separately or simultaneously?

C. Is the slideshow going to focus on a specific aspect of the person’s life such as
a sports video? A particular hobby? Or a particular quality aspect of a person’s life such as in a Mother’s Day Slideshow or Father’s Day Slideshow?

D. Is the time frame very specific as in a vacation slideshow? Or Christmas slideshow highlighting the current years events?

4. Choose and Organize Your Photos – These are very crucial steps and also very challenging. After all, almost every photo of Jane or Bobby is truly unique and beautiful and shows different character qualities. Sometimes it’s good to have a friend help you because they can be more objective. As cute as Jane or Bobby is, most people get the point after about 3 - 5 pictures in a certain time frame. Organize your photos chronologically or by theme. Or depending on your slideshow, both. Ask Your Sands of Time Multimedia Creations Slideshow Consultant for advice

An example for choosing your photos – Becky is doing a slideshow of her daughter’s graduation. She wants the photos to be from the day she was born to the day of her graduation. She goes through her photos, picks out her favorites and organizes them according to the year. Then she goes back and selects her very favorites from her favorites. Sometimes a third time is necessary, by then you will need to determine which ones MUST be in the slideshow and which ones can be omitted.

5. Choose Quality Photos – This will help you in the choosing process. Ask yourself these questions:

A. Is the photograph clear, not blurred or hazy? The blurring and haziness will be enhanced the more enlarged the photo is.

B. How is the lighting? Too dark or washed out?

C. Is the photo too grainy? Grainy photos do not scan well.

D. Has the photo been cut in an odd shape? – Although these work great for scrap booking, they work poorly for slideshows.

E. Sands of Time Multimedia Creations, Inc. does not charge extra for scanning your photos for you, but If you choose to scan your photos and place them on CD here is a guideline that should be used: 4 x 6 or larger should be scanned at a minimum of 300dpi, 3 ½ x 5 at a minimum of 400 dpi, 2 ½ x 2 ½ at a minimum of 600 dpi, any smaller than this should be at a minimum of 720 dpi. The higher the dpi, the better the quality. If too small of a dpi is used, then the picture will not look good when displayed at a large size for television screens.

Even though a high quality slideshow creating company such as Sands of Time Multimedia Creations can fix, enhance and correct your photos, the better quality you start with - the better the finished product.

Click here to view some samples of photo corrections:

5a. Organizing Photos: There are different ways to organize your photos. Very Important: Please do not use a regular marker to mark your photos because these can bleed through the photos. Use pencil or photo pens specifically designed for this purpose. Also, do not place sticky paper on top of the photo, place it on the back of the photo.

1). If you want a definite order then each photo will need to be numbered. You can write on the back of the photo with a pencil or photo pen. Or you can place a small sticky note on the back of each photo.

2). If you want to sort the photos by song, and don’t care about any particular order within the song, then just place those photos in a plastic baggie and tell us the name of the song you want with those photos.  A good rule of thumb to use is 9 seconds per photo (which includes transaction time). So, if you go to I-Tunes and find a song you want to use and you see that the song is 3 minutes long, you will multiply 3 x 60 (60 seconds in a minute) and then divide that by 9. You will see that you can have approximately 20 photos for that song – give or take a few photos.  If the song is a really fast up-beat song, use 7 seconds instead of 9.

3). You can sort by time frame. For example: All the photos in this baggie are from the year 1979 and the order doesn’t matter. You can do that for each year and then just add up the amount of photos you have in total to figure out approximately how many songs you will need for your slideshow using the same formula as above with 9 seconds. For example: if you have a total of 350 photos. 350 photos x 9 seconds = 3150 seconds. 3150 divided by 60 seconds = 52.50. You will need approximately 53 minutes worth of songs.

Almost always, people do care about the first photo and the last photo. So definitely let us know what they will be.

Note: Sands of Time Multimedia Creations Inc. can organize your photos for you, but because of the great amount of time involved in this process there is an additional fee of .50 cents per photo. So, if there are 500 photos in your slideshow it will cost you an additional $250.00 above your package price. So in order to save on this fee, please organize your photos if desired and possible.

6. Choose Your Captions – Captions can add to the appeal of the picture for the audience to help them understand what is happening in that particular photo. They can also add to the humor or sentimental value of the video. Not every picture should have a caption; for the most part the photos should be able to speak for themselves. Your audience may not enjoy the slideshow as much with too many captions and their focus will be more on the wording instead of the photo. But in certain circumstances such as creating a slideshow for a loved one who is away serving in the military – captions can be quite effective. Ask a Sands of Time Multimedia Creations consultant for their expertise in this area.

7. Choose Your Music Carefully – Hollywood producers will tell you that the right or wrong music can make or break a movie production. Choose the music according to the feeling you want to give your audience. Happy, sentimental, funny, nostalgic…. it’s all in the music. Choose music that means something to you or the person you are creating the slideshow for. Check the length of the music to the number of photos you want to use and the type of slideshow you are choosing. A Sands of Time slideshow specialist will be able to help you determine how many songs will be needed after you have selected your photos. Visit Sands Of Time's Slideshow Song Page for some suggestions.

8. Add Video Clips – Adding short video clips (1 - 3 minutes at most) to your slideshow can help break up the slideshow and 10 – 30 second video clips can enhance any slideshow.

View a sample of a Sands of Time slideshow with an added video clip:

9. Use Voiceovers – These are fun and can add a sentimental touch to any slideshow. This can be done using a video camera, or with some digital cameras that take video. Just be sure to tell your slideshow company that you just want to use the voice, not the video.

View a sample of a Sands of Time slideshow with a voiceover

10. View Samples, Choose Your Slideshow Package, and Place Your Order –View our on-line samples and choose which package will be best for you. Please keep in mind that the samples on our site is just a small sampling of what we can do. We have hundreds of styles and templates available for us to use to make your slideshow uniquely yours. Then visit our pricing page and choose a package. If you don’t see a special pricing package that works, call or email us and we can create a custom package just for you.

View our samples now and experience the difference!

11. Back up your photos. Are you sending film photos? If possible, try to have copies of your photos or the negatives. Sending scanned photos on disc? Make sure you have a copy. Sending videos – make a copy. Sands of Time Multimedia Creations is not responsible for what happens to your photos while in the mail, and although lost mail is an uncommon occurrence, unless you have a back-up, photos are irreplaceable.

12. Pack your photos with care.  Use proper packaging material. Always place 5x7's or 8x10's between pieces of cardboard. Make sure the photos and other material is packed tightly to avoid moving around inside the box. When packaging your photos place them in Ziploc baggies. This will protect them from any possible water damage and also works great for separating your photos chronologically. You should also place your discs or videos in Ziploc baggies. And always insure your package. Although lost or damaged mail is a rare occurrence, it’s always best to be prepared. And always opt for priority or overnight mailing services. The less time in the mail – the better. Also, when possible use the carriers boxes which are often available to you for free.

This is where your slideshow company now takes over. Our creators will be in constant communication with you and you will have a good idea as when to expect your slideshow to be finished. Sands of Time Multimedia Creations Inc. slideshow creators work closely with you to help you receive the ultimate slideshow. Your satisfaction is guaranteed.

Sandra Clukey, Sands of Time Multimedia Creations Inc.

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