Tag: presentation software

Should I use Windows Photo Viewer or my presentation program to show those photos?

Microsoft PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint can do the job easily for some applications

Previously, I wrote an article about how to use Windows Photo Viewer to show a collection of digital images on the large screen like your projector. Usage classes I was targeting this at included churches and other houses of worship who were showing digital images from the mission field, businesses with a lot of new products to show, people going through a large collection of newly-taken images and the like.

But you think about whether the dedicated presentation or playout program like PowerPoint, EasiSlides or Screen Monkey does the job better in this situation compared to something like Windows Photo Viewer.

Image in Windows Photo Viewer

Windows Photo Viewer comes in to its own with a collection of many photos

The problem with these dedicated presentation or playout programs is that there is more rigmarole involved in putting an image in to the presentation and this can open up room for mistakes. This may not be an issue if you are only needing to deal with an image count of between five and 10 JPEG images being necessary for your event. You also may be factoring in using the presentation or playout program to handle the rest of your program’s visual content like PowerPoint presentation material, textual material or song lyrics.

But Windows Photo Viewer would come in handy where you are dealing with a collection of many digital images that you took with the digital camera but want to show on the screen. A good rule of thumb to work with may be at least 11, perhaps 24 to 36 images which was the equivalent of the number of slides that could fit in the slide boxes that mounted 35mm slides came in after the film was processed. Here, you would be wanting to show those images in a manner equivalent to the old-time slide show, showing them in a sequence that matches the flow of your presentation.

Here, different programs can answer different needs and this is more true when you are dealing with presentation or AV playout needs in your small business or community organisation.

What do media-playout programs need

I have noticed a gap concerning computer-based audio-visual setups especially as far as small business and non-profit organisations are concerned. It is to supply computer software affordable to these organisations that can manage audio and video playout duties that is a key part of their public-facing activities.

The current situation

Some of these organisations may push PowerPoint or similar programs to this task but they don’t really do the job well when it just comes to playing out video content. Typically, with most common presentation software, you have to embed the video file into the presentation on its own slide, in the case of Microsoft Powerpoint; or create a “virtual slide” for the video content in the case of EasiiSlides, a song-lyrics / text-display program that the churches love. This works well for short video clips that are held as files but may not do so for full-length content. These programs don’t even provide proper access to content held on DVDs or Blu-Ray Discs, which is still considered a cost-effective idiot-proof way of distributing video content.

On the other hand, programs like Windows Media Player and VLC exhibit their control surface on to the projection screen or require a very awkward kludge to permit proper dual-screen playback.

What is needed

Proper dual-screen operation

One issue I have noticed is that affordable laptops don’t readily provide separate and individual access to screen and sound outputs, including the integrated screen. Typically this kind of setup, if it works, tends to yield more problems than it is worth. This can be of concern if one of the screens is a different resolution or aspect ratio to the other, such as an economy data projector hooked up to a recent-issue laptop computer.

Audience screen vs operator screen

The goal behind these separately-addressable audio and video outputs is to create at least two separate views for the content – a “front-of-house” view which the audience sees and an “operator” or “control” view which the operator or presenter sees.

The audience feed would only show the video and audio that is related to the currently-playing content while the operator feed provides the video / audio content, content-runtime information, and any prompts and messages that the operator needs to know.

Some setups such as larger churches may necessitate a third feed for the presenter, with access to content timing as well as the content itself. Here, an operator can still control the flow of the presentation without the presenter “crooking his neck” to see the screen.

Universality with common video formats

This setup should be applicable for the consumer-optical-disc formats (DVD, Blu-Ray) as well as file or stream-delivered content. The latter situation should cater for content held on network resources as well as on local resources.

The solution offered by the presentation software typically doesn’t allow for playback off a DVD or Blu-Ray disc and a lot of users either connect a regular DVD player to the projector or mess around with DVD-playback programs to play out DVD content.

Cue mode

The dual-screen setup could allow for “cue” operation. This is where  the operator views content on the operator screen in order to preview or “cue-up” that material. Then, when it is time to show the content,  the operator then redirects it to the “front-of-house” screen and speakers.

Playlist and controlled-playback support

These should support stored playlists or active queue lists especially if they are to be used to play shorter content like music videos, video lyrics or “shorts”. Here, this could be augmented with support for “stop” entries which cause the equipment to stop playback when these files are reached.

The “stop” entries could work in a similar way to what I have noticed with some consumer MiniDisc decks where these units could be placed in to “auto-pause” where they wait at the start of the next item after they play the current item. This made these units, especially the Sony MDS-JE520, earn their keep as cost-effective audio-playout machines for community radio, churches (as I have seen), theatre groups and the like.

The playlist functionality could also support slideshows of still pictures with or without sound. This could include support for sound peculiar to each slide with or without a background-music track that runs through the playlist in a similar vein to those “theatre slides” shown before a movie session at the cinema.


The media-playout function is another example of software and hardware product designers missing out on a user group, namely small-business and non-profit organisations, due to a perceived low value in that group. But it is a group that should be observed and catered for with the right-priced hardware and software.

A feature that PowerPoint and other presentation software need – improvements for creating video and related works


Most of us who use Microsoft PowerPoint or most other business presentation software often want to use the software to make TV-quality title and graphics slides for video productions that we create with other video software, usually the software that is considered to be affordable for most users. This also includes preparing menu trees for DVD and Blu-Ray projects that are being built with affordable software. These needs will become more common as people use affordable video equipment to prepare video material as a way of augmenting their blogs, presenting on YouTube or even exhibiting through community television broadcasters.

As well, an increasing amount of affordable consumer video playback devices such as DVD players, TVs, electronic picture frames and network media players are capable of showing JPEG images, Now many users want to be able to push these commonly-available devices in to service as cost-effective “digital signage”. This is something I have talked about in my article on using DLNA-enabled equipment in the small business.

User-determined bitmap-export resolution

Most of this software doesn’t provide a way of allowing the user to have control over the resolution of the JPEG or other bitmap images that they create when the export the slides to these formats. This is a feature that I would consider being very important as I know that the presentation programs keep the graphics for each of the slides as a vector format which is drawn on the screen rather than a “raster” format which is an array of pixels. This then allows a user of these programs to make the aforementioned “TV-quality” graphics using them no matter the size of their screen.

One common situation where the user may need to adjust the resolution when exporting to JPEG is to prepare quick-loading images that are in small files for use on a device with a small display. One obvious example would be a low-end electronic picture frame which would have  a small display size and another would typically be a mobile phone or portable media player with less than VGA resolution.

Another situation would eventuate in the form of a person who uses a laptop or small desktop screen with a low resolution display to create a presentation. Then they want to export the JPEG files to a playback situation capable of handling high-resolution images like a BD-Live Blu-Ray player connected via HDMI to a large direct-view screen or a projector. Similarly, the images could be used as part of a high-definition video production and there is the desire for that high-definition “crispness” in the images.

The user could be presented with a series of resolutions for the JPEG exports with these resolutions conforming to the aspect ratio for the presentations as part of exporting the images. As well, there could be the support for users to set the default image resolutions for particular aspect ratios and presentation types. The function could be simplified by use of an “SD” option for standard-definition output, an “HD1” option for 720-line high-definition output and an “HD2” option for 1080-line high-definition output.

Improved “export-to-video” and video integration

Another function worth considering would be to provide “export-to-video” functionality for animated presentations so one can make the presentations out as regular SD or HD video files with a choice of common codecs and packaging methods.

As well, in the case of Microsoft PowerPoint, this program could have integrated functionality with Windows Live Movie Maker. This free program, which is the only video-editing program that Microsoft sells, could support such functionality as “create slide or animation in PowerPoint” so that users can prepare slides in PowerPoint then turn them in to video content using this program.


These kind of improvements can allow users to put business presentation software to use in improving the quality of the video or “digital signage” they create with other affordable tools.