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  • Jun 29 2016 at 6:55am
    All about Aspect Ratio: 16:9 or 4:3?

    16x9 or 4x3

    It’s all about the aspect ratio

    Aspect ratio, black bars, and distortion, are all topics that come up often in customer questions. Especially since the first decision you have to make when starting up the program is whether to create your project in 16:9 or 4:3 format. For those who aren’t familiar with these two formats, the difference between them is whether you need your project/video in Full screen (4:3) or Widescreen (16:9).

    The playback device determines the aspect ratio


    The format you will need to use for your video is dependent on your playback device; type of TV, DVD player, or computer/beamer. For example, modern HD Tvs usually require an aspect ratio of 16:9, so if you know that you plan to play your video on it then you will want to use the 16:9 format. Older TVs tend to be in 4:3 format, especially those in the US or on NTSC format, to be sure check your TVs user manual to know what aspect ratios it accepts.


    The photos don’t fit the aspect ratio

    After you’ve determined the right format for your project/video you will start adding your photos, music, and text; and you may find that there are black side bars (for portrait photos) or black bars over and under your photo (for landscape photos). This happens when the aspect ratio of your photos don’t match those of your project.

    An easy way to picture this is to think of when you play a DVD; it often gives you the option at the beginning to choose between widescreen and full screen. If your TV is formatted for full screen and you choose the widescreen option then you will see two black bars/strips on the top and bottom of the screen surrounding your video. The same applies in SlideShow and Stages when the aspect ratio of your photos do not match those of your project.

    Tip: Avoid the mistake of determining your project’s aspect ratio based on your photo’s aspect ratio.


    Easily adjustable and customized

    crop post photo

    Adjusting the aspect ratio is easy, there are four main options available in SlideShow and Stages:

    1. Keep: leave the photos as is.
    2. Crop: cut parts of the photo to make them fit your screen.
    3. Distort: stretches the photo out to fit the screen.
    4. Crop Intelligently: does the same thing as the normal crop but it accounts for where faces/ the focus of photos are to try to avoid cutting them out.

    * Crop/ Crop Intelligently, are both individually adjustable, either by dragging the frame around within the Layout designer or by adjusting the crop from the alignment menu where you can select the focus of your crop.

    blur photo

    You can also use Image effects to adjust your photos as we show in the following tutorial. Instead of cropping or distorting the photos that don’t fit the aspect ratio, we create a blurred background using the same photo. It solves the aspect ratio issue and makes photos more lively.

  • Jun 10 2016 at 7:01am
    Creating Custom Lower Thirds Tutorial

    Creating Custom Lower Thirds Tutorial

    Lower third header

    Adding text descriptions enriches your shows and videos; the graphic overlay at the bottom of your screen is called a lower third or captions. They are extremely versatile and can help to give your viewers relevant information to the story, help identify who is involved, or tell the location. Especially when presenting a story that switches from location to location, lower thirds can help your audience to transition smoothly from scene to scene. By simply adding the month or year to your video, the audience can stay current with the story. The main benefit of using lower thirds is to make your text/captions/photo descriptions stand out against the background of your photos and videos and give info without being overbearing or too obvious.
    In this tutorial we will look at just how easy it is to create custom lower thirds in SlideShow 8. It is as easy as placing a graphic behind the text overlay, but with effects, motion, and sound you can do so much more…


    Simply create your own – without the need for Photoshop Etc.

    In SlideShow 8, you will find pre-made Lower Thirds that just need to be edited under “SlideShow objects” and then “captions”. With these you can combine fonts, backgrounds, use image effects, and add music. In the photo to the side you can see the background “baking paper”, which was changed and dyed in the internal image editor tool with the help of 2 image effects from the toolbox ( “Vignette” and “Fade Out” right).

    To edit a pre-made Lower Third just:

    1. Pull a chapter from the toolbox into the timeline, in which you can place your photo.Lower third 1


    1. Then select the background image for your text and drag it to the track under your photo.


    1. Then drag one of the pre-made captions below the background and image. Now you can adjust the size and positioning of the caption within the layout designer.


    1. Once it is the size and in the position that you want it, drag a text object from the toolbox to the track under the background and images.


    1. In the Layout Designer you place the text directly on top of your Lower Third and then select the desired font and size in the “Properties” window on the right.


    1. Once your font size and type are set your Lower Third is ready.


    Personalize your look

    After the basics, comes the freestyle. For example, the Lower Thirds can be made transparent by adjusting the transparency in the “Properties” window. You can change the color, sharpness, and more with the help of thImage effects ss8e image editor tool. With the effects editor available in the Ultimate version, the customization possibilities are multiplied. Creating a cool effect is made even easier via the numerous ready-to-use picture effects in your Toolbox.

    Font and colors

    You want your text to stand out against your background, the best way to do this is by using fonts with subtle edges and staying away from thin (or ornate) fonts. Helvetica (a favorite font of designers) goes nicely in videos and using white text with shadows is a classic.

    Tip: For web videos solid backgrounds are good because they can easily be compressed and will not get blocky during play back.


    By adding entrance and exit motion to your Lower Thirds, your audience’s attention will be drawn just long enough to read the text, without distracting from your images.


    Once you’ve got the basics down you can look into adding sound to create an impactful entry and exit for your lower third. Adding a swoosh when a title flies in or the sound of pencil scratching on paper when there is a handwriting like text animation, can add to the drama of your video and build upon the theme. There are endless possibilities to combine motion, text, and sound and create a single lower third.


    A few extra tips and uses for Lower Thirds:

    * Company colors and logos used with lower thirds can help with consistent branding efforts.

    * They are a great place to include company contact info

    * The song title, artist, album for musical accompaniment looks professional when shown (as/on) a Lower Third

    * Lower Thirds should only stay on the screen long enough for your audience to read it, when a lower third stays on the screen for too long the audience may get distracted from the content of your video.

    * The general rule with Lower Thirds is that “less is more”, so keep them simple and less distracting



    Theory is nice, but practice is better

    So to get you started we’ve created a sample video and a free template for you.

    As always the template can be downloaded for free from our download center. Don’t forget that you can make adjustments to the pre-made Lower Thirds already within SlideShow 8 and then save them as your own templates by dragging them into the Toolbox.

    Template available at:

  • Nov 27 2015 at 6:19am
    Wedding Thank You card

    Wedding Thank you card

    It’s always lovely when after a wedding you receive a Thank You card. Those in my friends circle usually send out a card with a photo of us with bride/groom included, and that always adds a personal element to a mostly impersonal card. But what if you could have the best of both worlds? We think that creating a video Thank You card allows you to include much more photos, and thus allow your guests to relive the great night they celebrated with you. Grandma did a cool jig on the dance floor, your cousins took great pictures in the photo booth, or a new couple came together at the wedding–you can share all of that much better with a video. Check out Amanda and Bernie’s example:


  • Nov 13 2015 at 6:23am
    Fun with Polaroids

    Fun with Polaroids

    dog pieces Polaroid

    Polaroids are not just a thing of the past. Even though digital cameras are becoming more and more advanced, there is still a fascination with the instant/ candid photos that Polaroids offered. In SlideShow 9 you don’t need to have a Polaroid camera, you can take any normal photo that you have and make it a Polaroid snapshot. The video below shows some project ideas with Polaroids and then we get into how you can make the same at home, whether for a birthday video card or a friendship/ trip video.


    Example #1: Stack of Polaroids

    Stack of Polaroids

    The first part of the video is perfect for birthdays or as a child’s “first years” video, because you can quickly show progression with the camera flashing and switch between several photos at a comfortable pace. First you take a frame and position your desired photos one after another on top of it.


    Example #2: Polaroids coming together to form a picture

    pieces snap shot polaroid

    This type of show works great with almost any type of photos, pets, flowers, or people. It works especially well with portraits when the person is looking directly into the camera as then you can achieve great effects by floating in each individual eye from the left and right and then the remainder of the face from the bottom. You can download the template here. Then insert your own photos instead of the placeholders. If you want to add more photos with the same effect simply copy and paste the chapter and add your photos.


    Example #3: Polaroids flying into the photo

    Baker Family ski trip

    The last part was a combination of a frame that already had one Polaroid on it and the Polaroid frame that’s available in SlideShow.  The first photo that appears is behind the Polaroid frame and thus requires no image effect. The next three photos that land on top of the open diary, will need a Polaroid frame, which can be found under image effects –> frames. One thing to keep in mind, these frames do not cut your photos, and typically Polaroids are more in the squarish shape, so you will have to either select squarish photos or you can edit them within the program using the crop feature which can be found by right clicking and then “edit image”.


    For more ideas of cool videos that you can make check out this blog and our Youtube channel.

  • Nov 13 2015 at 6:17am
    How to: creating frames and backgrounds with Photoshop

    Trial one header photo Frames tutorial

    There are a multitude of frame themed photos available on the internet and in SlideShow it’s very easy to add self-made frames to your show. Here are the two most common types, frames with a black background and frames with a photo inside of them, we’ll show you how to fix both using Photoshop. Alternatively, the steps are quite similar in programs such as GIMP (freeware).

    Background eraser tool:

    background eraser tool

    The easiest is when you have a photo that has black boxes, circles, etc, because they are more place holders, the person who made it is expecting you to insert your own photos. The contrast as shown above between white and black makes it super simple to erase the black. Activate the “Magic Eraser tool” and then click on each black square. Then you will see the white and grey checkered background which means that there is a cut out.


    magic background eraser part 1

    Finally, and this is the most important, you have to save your new frame as PNG. If you save it as JPEG or anything else the frame cut outs will be filled with white and you won’t be able to use it over your photos. Saving in PNG makes sure you preserve the frame.

    Magnetic Lasso tool:

    Showing the magnetic lasso tool

    This tool is useful when you don’t have just a single color to cut out. If you tried to use the magic eraser on a photo like the one above you would have to click on each color tone individually, and you would end up with a very messy photo. Select the “magnetic lasso tool” and go along the edges that you want to cut out, imagine that you have a pair of scissors and want to cut out the photo, and be sure to cut around the clothes pin.


    Screenshot lasso tool missing square

    If there are pieces that weren’t so smooth you can always make corrections by using the “add to selection” or “subtract from selection” buttons at the top. They will keep the cut out highlighted and then give you another lasso tool to draw the area that you would like to add or subtract.


    • Note: in some versions of Photoshop hitting the delete key will not delete but bring up the “fill” menu. If that is the case for you, first double click on the layer “background” in the layers section to the right. It will rename itself layer 0, and then the delete key will work again.


    Finally as with the tool above, you have to save your new frame as PNG. If you save it as JPEG or anything else the frame cut outs will be filled with white and you won’t be able to use it over your photos. Saving in PNG makes sure you preserve the frame.

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