It is easy to share your photos these days, with so many online sharing services available. But if you’re looking to impress or send a few emotions along, a multimedia experience such as slideshow could help you score big time.
is a simple program specially designed for the job. It can import, process and export the result either in DVD format or for YouTube. The application is available $/€29.99, but you can take it for a spin and check out what it can do for you before shelling out the money.
The limitations include pasting a demo message on the output result, registration reminders and restriction to downloading extra menu templates. So they are in no way hindering the testing.
The installation routine is nothing complicated. However, beginners might spend a bit more time with it in order to understand the options offered: choose the video format (PAL or NTSC) or deciding whether to install PrinCouffin driver; it’s okay, you can do it, because this is VSO's version of ASPI.
PhotoDVD does not come with impressive looks, but the simple interface makes it clear that you have to go through six steps in order to finish the project. Nevertheless, you’ll notice that your work is done after the first three steps.
As soon as you add the images (drag and drop of both files and folders is supported), you can start the customization process. PhotoDVD makes available the possibility to edit each slide in terms of movement, transition effect and display time. Furthermore, you can add a custom subtitle to be shown for each image and choose the audio track to play, although sound can be added in the next step.
Supported audio file types include all the popular formats MP3, OGG, WAV, FLAC and WMA, although the fast preview did not always function correctly and refused to play the tracks while sliding the pictures. You can check the full list of supported formats on this page
PhotoDVD can integrate a total set of three playlists, which in the output result are the actual audio tracks. If you create a slideshow DVD, you can switch between the soundtracks.
In step number three you get to define the video standard, output format, aspect ratio, and choose the template for the DVD menu. The developer also added the possibility to automatically start burning the slideshow to a disc.
Going with the YouTube-compatible format offers a different set of options. In this case, you can select among the subtitle tracks and audio playlists and the resolution; the higher the values the larger the output result and the longer it will take to compile all the files.
The configuration panel brings to the table options that govern the entire process for creating your slideshows. Here’s where you can define the output quality, set the transitions that should be randomized, the transition properties (cutting, amplitude and zoom factor). Additional options help you with the times for the transition to complete and for displaying the image.
DVD-specific configuration includes enabling auto-start playback, showing the subtitles on start or the chapter text format. There are very few menu templates to work with; in fact, if you eliminate the variations, only two remain; you can also go with no menu at all.
There’s a wide array of subtitle-related settings, though. The customization level extends for all three subtitle tracks you can insert in the project (use the remote control to switch between them).
Besides naming the tracks and selecting the desired font, you can also define its size, formatting, color, opacity, character and line spacing or alignment. A preview gives you a hint on the results.
PhotoDVD from VSO combines powerful customization options with the ease of use the regular user requires in order to come up with great-looking slideshows, thanks to the wizard-like interface. You can spend plenty of time tinkering with the options, but it is also suitable for quick jobs as compiling all the data in the project is a short process.
Its strength is definitely not in the amount of transition effects offered, but in the spread of options you can use to build up the end result.
Compiling all the elements either in a DVD-video or a YouTube-ready clip is a short wait compared to other applications of the same feather. It did not abuse our test system resources too much, but RAM is essential in the process. Also, on lower-specced systems, attending to other tasks should prove to be a bit demanding.
Testing showed that PhotoDVD worked with amounts as high as 400MB, while the average was around 380MB. On the other hand, our quad CPU running at 3.10GHz had absolutely no problem as only 25% of its power was necessary. The Good
The wizard-like interface makes it extremely easy to handle and yet offers customization options for more finical users. The Bad
It is advisable not to rely on the built-in preview mechanism and check the end result instead before burning it to a disc or sharing it online.
There aren’t too many transitions available and defining one for each image requires opening each picture in editing mode.
The price might scare off customers, since you can achieve a fairly similar result using a bunch of freeware applications; some of them can even complete the task online. The Truth PhotoDVD
from VSO is an old program that continues to impress, although the fact that it did not keep up with the times does show. Flexibility in options is among its strong points. It is also extremely easy to handle if you do not want to spend too much time configuring every aspect of the project.
It is a program for creating slideshows quite far from being excellent considering the current times and user requirements, what it offers and the price.