Sunday, March 30, 2014

DVD or Blu-ray Slideshow from iPhoto

Ok, so you’ve got a Mac and you want to make a DVD slideshow.  You’d think since Macs are so video oriented this would be easy.  The truth is as Apple has migrated away from DVDs (and optical media in general) this has actually become more difficult.  You cannot even purchase iDVD anymore which was a good way to make a slideshow.

In this blog post I tell you how to create a slideshow that can easily be played in a DVD player using only your Mac.  Unfortunately my method does require that you own a copy of Toast.  It doesn’t have to be the latest version but it is needed to encode the video for DVD (or Blu-ray) and of course you need a DVD (or Blu-ray) burner to actually write the optical media.  Alternately you can use the free Burn application found here although it doesn’t support Blu-ray.

First setup the slideshow

Select the photos or album (or an Event, a Faces or Places group, or a project such as a book, card, or calendar) you want to add to your slideshow.  Note that you can manually order the photos in an album or sort them by different criteria and the slideshow will show them in that order.

You can see in this screeenshot I have created an album entitled LOL Cats and placed some images in it.

Now that you are viewing the album you want to make a slideshow of go to File->New Slideshow.

Now you’ve created a slideshow with your images.  There are several settings we want to tweak, however, to optimize our slideshow for a DVD.

First, let’s choose our Theme which will have some default settings that we will then change.  Click the Themes icon in the lower right of the screen.  The Theme selector should appear.  By default Ken Burns is usually selected.  

This is a nice slow pan and zoom effect for each slide, however, usually when dealing with slideshows you want to put on a DVD you will find that when the images are stylistically zoomed in it crops your pictures too much, often leaving the heads off from pictures of people, for example, and zooming towards their feet.  So instead we will choose Classic as our theme.

In this example I am not going to use music but you can always specify a soundtrack if you want to. One is usually selected by default so let’s turn that off by clicking the Music icon in the lower right corner of the screen.  When the window appears, deselect the Play music during slideshow.  Then to save that setting make sure to click the poorly named “Choose” button even though we didn’t really choose a song to play.

Now we want to fine tune the settings that are defaults for the Classic theme.  Click the Settings icon in the lower right side of the screen.  Now you should see the Settings window.  Note that there are two tabs at the top, “All Slides” and “This Slide.”  We want our changes to apply to All Slides so make sure that tab is selected.  

The first thing we will do is change the slideshow time to 5 seconds which is more reasonable for a DVD.  You may even want to go longer depending on your audience and subject matter.

I personally like the Dissolve transition so I am going to enable it here and keep the speed at the default.

By default it creates a Title Slide as the first slide and displays the name of the Album.  You can edit the text on the title slide but in this case I’d rather not have one so I’m going to uncheck that.

Repeat slideshow doesn’t make sense here as we will be putting it onto a DVD.  If we want it to repeat their we will have to set that in the DVD burning software, so I’ll uncheck it here.

You do not want to select Scale photos to fill screen as it will zoom the photos so there are no black bars around them but that means the sides or top and bottom will usually be cropped which in almost all cases is undesirable.

Lastly it’s very important to choose the correct aspect ratio.  Since this is going to be a DVD chances are you will be playing it on a newer 16:9 (widescreen) HDTV.  Unless you know you will be playing on the older style 4:3 TV or projector, you should choose 16:9 here. If you choose 4:3 and you play it back on a 16:9 it will either have black bars on the sides, or the images will be stretched and distorted to fill the sides of the screen.

NOTE:  There appears to be a bug in iPhoto 9.5 where it will not offer you the 16:9 setting unless you currently have a 16:9 aspect ratio monitor plugged into your computer.  I’ve submitted this as a bug to Apple and am awaiting a response.  This tutorial worked because I was using a 16:9 (1920x1080) format display at the time.

At this point you can click the Play button at the bottom center of the screen and view your slideshow.  If it displays the way you like it, it’s time to export it.

Click the Export button at the bottom center of the screen.  You only have three options for the resolution of the final movie.  We are going to choose the 1080p highest resolution (especially if you will be making a Blu-ray) although the 720p resolution would be fine for a regular DVD.  I also deselected Automatically send slideshow to iTunes since we don’t want it there as we are going to burn it to a DVD.

NOTE:  Depending on the size of your images it may give you a warning that your slideshow will be some ridiculously large size.  You can ignore that warning as it seems to be a bug in iPhoto.  The final file will be a reasonable size (usually less than 4GB.)

Choose where you want to save the exported movie file and click OK.  

Now it will start creating a movie based on your slideshow.  Depending on the size of your images and the number of images you have in your slideshow (and the speed of your computer) this can take several hours.

Now you should have a video file with a .m4v (or .mp4) extension that we can use Toast to convert to a video DVD.

Launch Toast.  Select the Video Tab.

Drag and drop our movie file into the large open area in the Toast window.  

In the lower left portion of the screen we can adjust options.  Click the More button to get to all of the options.

There are three options tabs on this dialog.  Click Disc.

In this slideshow we do not want to show a menu, we want the disk to auto play, and we want it to repeat.  So select “Auto-play disc on insert” and “Play all items continuously.”  Also go ahead and name the disc.

Now click the Menus tab.

Since we are not showing menus we can simply deselect all the checkboxes here and ignore the other settings.

Lastly click the Encoding tab.

In general you can use the Automatic settings but I would drag the Video Quality selector to Best.  That will slow down the encoding process but give you the best looking video.

Click OK.  At this point we are ready to burn our DVD.  Insert a blank DVD and click the big red Burn button in the lower right of the window.