Audio/Visual Preparation

Many of our members take photos of church events and want to project them on our great-room screen and/or post them on our web site. Here are some notes about how to make that process work smoothly.

Keywords: PowerPoint, photos, size, zip folders.

Summary of best way

Select format for projecting photos and other material.

We use photos several ways in the great room. Our routine Sunday service usually has images from children’s books projected during Story Time. Guest speakers at services or other meetings sometimes have both images and text material to project during their presentation. Our social events may require projecting printed program notes. Sometimes our social events are accompanied by photos projected as background during other activities. The following will describe our projection capabilities and how to prepare photos for such use.

Sunday Service and Photos Mixed with Text

Photos that are part of the Sunday service presentation are easiest to handle if they are in a PowerPoint presentation file. That’s because the software that projects song lyrics on the screen (it’s called EasyWorship) can also handle PowerPoint in a way that is smooth for the operator. Similarly, for presentations at services and meetings we encourage folks to use PowerPoint because it gives them maximum control over sequence and also provides the capability to embed text labels or associated prose. The operator, or the presenter using a remote control, can control timing, back up, etc.

In some cases it is desirable that the slides sequence automatically. This can be set in your PowerPoint editor, and you can choose the timing to fit your material.

If you’re doing something for the first time, please let us work with you ahead of time.

Not everybody has PowerPoint; it’s not cheap. There are alternatives, but we have had mixed results with them. Even the Apple replacement has given us trouble. Free replacements we have heard of include OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice (an offshoot of OO.o), Google Docs. You may know of others we should investigate.

Slide Show Use

If all you want to do is project a sequence of photos, as for a slide show, we can do this from a collection of *.jpg files without any preparation. This is what most cameras give you directly. They will be projected in alphanumeric order. You’ll see what this means if you sort by name in a directory view of your folder.

If you want the slides projected in a particular sequence, one easy way is to put leading numbers in the file names. Just remember that these are in alpha order: 05, 1, 2, 22, 24, 3, 4, but these are not: 1, 2, 3, 4, 05, 22, 24. We do have the ability to change the sequence at the last minute, but let’s not create a time crunch.

Transmitting photos for services and slide shows

You can give us photos or PowerPoint presentations in several ways. You can give us a CD that you burned on your home computer, or a USB flash drive that you copied files to. (We’ll copy the flash drive contents and return it to you.) You can also email them to us at avteam@uucorpus.org. For CD’s or flash drives, file size is not a concern, but for email it can be. See the cartoon http://xkcd.com/949/ for a perspective. See the remarks below for size reduction tips.

To place photos on our church web site photo gallery, uploads are the only way and file size is a consideration there as well.

In both these cases, grouping all the photos in a compressed (zipped) folder makes them easier to handle. The easy way to do this with Windows is to create a zip folder (which is really one file) and drag the photo files that you want into it.

Photo processing: rotating, cropping, sizing and more

You’ll want to consider manipulating your photos for more pleasant composition, brightness and contrast, and ease of storage and uploading.  The beginning stuff will be discussed below; you may try more complicated steps as you gain experience.

Before you begin, consider the first rule of photo processing: always work with a copy. Some photo editing software will replace a photo file with a new version, rather than create a second file. Until you are really familiar with the software you use, you will want the ability to go back to the original. You may want to keep two (or more) versions; one for high-resolution enlarging and one to upload for screen viewing.

Photo orientation and cropping

Of course, getting all of your photos oriented upright comes first. You’ve been doing this since the first time you showed them on a screen. Beyond that, you may want to crop them to eliminate distractions. You probably have your preferred tool for this, perhaps software that came with your camera. Ask your fellow photographers what they like to use. Irfanview, cited below, also has the ability to rotate and crop.

Photo file size reduction

As photos come from your camera, they are not in the best form for either projecting on our great-room screen or post them on our web site of these uses: their files are too big and have a lot of wasted resolution. While this can be ignored when you give us photos on a CD or USB flash drive, it is important for email and for uploads to our web site photo gallery. This note will discuss how to improve this considerably.

Consider the size of the individual picture files. A 12 M-pixel digital camera may produce a photo that is 6000 x 4000 pixels and may have a file size of 6 M-bytes. Our projector screen is only 1024 x 768 pixels. A photo shown on our web site will be a pleasing size if it is that size or even smaller, say, 600 x 400 for a partial-screen view. The projecting software (viewer) may reduce photos to fit the screen, but all those extra pixels are wasted and keep the file size unnecessarily large.  Both of the above needs can be met with a file size of 250 k-bytes or less: 24 times smaller than the original. Particularly when there are a lot of photos, such a size reduction makes them easier to transport and store. When reduced, they can be sent via email and uploaded in less than what otherwise seems like forever. Many photo-processing software programs can do this reduction. See the section below regarding a few of these and how this can be done for many photos in a batch to cut down on the work required.

Photo Processing Software

Irfanview

This is good, free software for viewing and modifying photos. You can download it from http://irfanview.com.

For individual photos, from the viewer, select Edit >> Resize/Resample, choose your desired size, click “Preserve aspect ratio” and click “OK”.

For batch processing, if you start in the Irfanview Thumbnail screen, select the desired photos (hold down the Ctrl key for all but the first when you click on it) and then select File >> Start batch dialog with selected files. Then under “Batch conversion settings”, check “Use advanced options…”, click “Advanced”, check “Resize”, choose your desired size (I like to use the “Set long side to:”  option), check “Preserve aspect ratio”. Click “OK”. This leaves the previous screen where you can set an output directory or use the current directory. Click “Start Batch”.

You can also get there from the Irfanview viewer under File >> Batch Conversion/Rename, but you won’t have as big a window with which to select the desired photos if you’re not converting everything in the input directory.

Fookes Easy Thumbnails

This is another free software. You can download it from: http://www.fookes.com/easy-thumbnails

This has simpler, but adequate menus, but does not have a big window with which to select photos from a larger group.

PhotoShop

CAN SOMEONE WHO HAS THIS SOFTWARE  HELP HERE?

Other

The software that came with your camera may also have reduction capability

NEED MORE ABOUT SIZE REDUCTION WITH PHOTO SOFTWARE.

Uploading photos to our web site

Our web site has a Photo Gallery that you can upload images to. You’ll need a password. Ask; we don’t want to publish it here. I know it’s a pain, but we had a site break-in a while back, so we’re cautious.

Our gallery is managed by a software package named Plogger, which is reached via the “Gallery Logon” link at the bottom of our Home Page.

To upload one or more photos choose the upload tab and follow the leads.

You can upload photos one at a time or bundle the photos up in one file for easy uploading. This reduces the effort considerably. To bundle them up, put all the files in a Compressed (zipped) Folder. This folder is called a “zip” archive by Plogger.

Be sure to log out when you’re through.

These compressed folders are also a good way to send multiple folders by email. Only one item needs to be attached and subsequently saved.