Viewfinder: Slide Shows

The popularity of digital still cameras (DSCs) has surprised many people. If you don’t own one, you probably know someone who does. They provide instant gratification, kind of like Polaroid film. Unlike film, flash memory cards can be reused. Flash memory has no moving parts. The images from most early digital still cameras (two megapixel) produced images with far less resolution than film cameras. Today’s DSCs are greatly improved, some using five megapixel chips. These high-resolution images can produce very nice hard copy prints with the right printer.

Sharing image files is easy compared to paper photos. Digital images are essentially computer files. Users can transfer their images to a computer’s hard drive or burn them to a CD for long term storage. Other users on a network can easily access image files that are stored on a hard disk. Users can also share images across the Internet, so anyone with a Web browser can see a picture.

Digital still cameras and camcorders have some similarities. They both provide instant gratification, record onto reusable media and the images can be stored on a hard drive to share with others. The big difference is that video does a much better job of storytelling, but even this is changing.

As you know, video is simply a sequence of still images accompanied by recorded audio. Some DSCs can capture a few seconds of video. Camcorders shooting full-motion video capture 30 frames per second, but even the best DSCs can only capture 15 frames per second. At 15fps, motion looks jerky, not like something you’d expect to see on TV. However, if the frame rate is below one frame per second, say to one frame per five seconds, then you have an entirely different medium – a slide show.

Slide shows do a pretty good job of telling stories. Slide shows do not attempt to include motion. They are like the storyboards that video producers use to plan their videos. Several tools have emerged to produce and share slide shows over the Internet. is an example of Web-based slide show production and sharing solution. Digital Photo Slide Show Version 2003.2 is a shareware program that aims to help people create professional results with their images. ShowMaker by dmagic is yet another package for making slide shows. Microsoft Producer 2003 for Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 includes features for synchronizing audio, video, slides and images to create engaging and effective rich-media presentations.

Slide shows have advantages over video in that the viewer does not need a broadband connection to the Internet because you transmit far fewer images. Expect to see more and more people watching slide shows on their TVs delivered over the Internet. TV viewers want to be told a story, and slide shows may be able to deliver a minimal story from the Internet to a TV set. Slide shows just may be able to achieve what people expect when they watch television.

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