Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Put Together a Slide Show!

When you mention the words "slide show" to other people, their eyes will probably glaze over with the anticipated boredom that they think you're going to subject them to. Indeed, over the years, slide shows have become nothing more than bad cliches that conjure up memories of having to sit through long, drawn-out viewings of vacation photos from your neighbors and family. You might even recall trying desperately to stay awake during biology or history slide shows at school.

You had good reason not to get overly excited at the prospect of a slide show. In those days, slide projectors were small units with a rotating carousel slide holder that projected images on the screen or on the wall. They didn't do anything else at all. In fact, the most entertaining thing you could hope for was to have a slide appear upside down or out of order. In order for the audience to know what was going on in the picture, someone would have to narrate. This would of course lead to long-winded rants from your Uncle Ralph about how bad the service was at that hotel and how he will never stay there again as long as he lives.

But that was then. Now, there are a couple of different ways you can make slide shows more interesting than they ever were in the past. The advent of digital camera technology as well as sophisticated yet user-friendly computer software programs allows you to create slide shows that are fun to watch and that your viewers will actually enjoy.

The easiest way, by far, to set up a slide show is to hook your digital camera up to your television set. What? You didn't know that you could do that? Well, you can. Most digital cameras these days come with a set of AV cables that allows you to plug them directly into your TV. Then you can scroll through your pictures and view them on your television set. This is great for sharing pictures with a large group of people, or if you just want to see bigger versions of the photos you took. Of course, there aren't any sound effects here, either, so this is not any more sophisticated than the old-fashioned slide shows that I mentioned earlier. Let's move on.

Another fairly easy way to create a slide show is to use PowerPoint. PowerPoint is already installed in most newer computers, so even if you've never used it, chances are that you have it available. It's very easy to embed your digital photos into PowerPoint slides. This software also has tons of features that allow you to jazz up your slide show in nearly any conceivable way. Do you want to give your slide show a cool soundtrack? No problem. You can add sound clips with just a couple of clicks of your mouse. You can also use various transition and animation effects to give your slides even more life. You can also add captions right there on the slide, so there's no need to narrate, either.

Sharing a PowerPoint slide show is a breeze. You can either e-mail it, post it to your website, or hook your laptop up to a projector. Whichever way you do so, you'll find that the software is powerful enough to let your imagination run free.

The next time you want to share vacation photos, consider putting on a slide show. Today's technology allows you to make it as simple or as complex as you want it to be.

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