Monday, February 18, 2008

Wedding Slide Shows

In the last few years just about every wedding reception includes a slide show at some point. Slide shows can be a very entertaining and memorable part of a wedding reception, but I find that more than half the time there are annoying technical glitches that pop up when trying to present the slide show at the reception.

As the DJ I am always involved in the slide show at least from the audio side of things and sometimes to a greater extent. Having seen many technical challenges with wedding slide shows I thought I would list some things I've learned that are good to keep in mind.

- Most slide shows are created using PowerPoint (as opposed to more professional software such as Adobe Premiere etc.). When you insert pictures, audio and video into PowerPoint projects and then run the slid show from the project, PowerPoint looks for all the files wherever you have told it to find them. If any of those files get moved, renamed or deleted by accident, PowerPoint will not be able to find them and your slideshow will not work as expected. Not many people seem to know this, but you can save a PowerPoint project as a PowerPoint presentation (.pps). Just look in the Save As options in PowerPoint. With this option, all the files you have included in your slide show will be compiled into a single file which will run as a presentation on its own. Now when you are ready to show the presentation you don't even have to open PowerPoint. Just click on the .pps file and the slide show runs.

- Another thing often not considered is where to project the presentation from. I can't tell you the number of times I've arrived to a venue to set up and someone comes running up to ask me if they can run the sound for their slide show through my DJ system. The only problem is the projector and laptop are on the other side of the room 150 feet away from my console. I can handle about 50 feet away maximum. So, if you want to run audio for your presentation through the DJ's system you need to think through where you're going to be set up. It's probably best to get a hold of the DJ and coordinate this before the day of the reception.

- If you are running the presentation off your laptop, be sure to deactivate your screensaver and set your computer not to go to sleep. I've seen more than a few presentations end early because the presenter's computer went to sleep and they couldn't wake it up without entering their password.

- PowerPoint doesn't give you the option to fade out an audio track or mix into the next audio track. When you have included frequent changes in music in your PowerPoint presentation, it can get quite annoying to hear one song abruptly ending a third of the way through and another song starting. I would recommend using a third party software such as Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio) or shareware (such as WavePad by NCH Swift Sound) to make fades and other edits to the sound file.

- A great alternative to using PowerPoint is to use Windows Movie Maker that comes free with XP and Vista. This allows you to do just about anything you could do in PowerPoint, plus you can cross fade audio tracks for nice smooth song transitions. It is very easy to use too.

- Wedding slide shows ususaly include lots of scanned photos of the bride and groom growing up. It is a good idea to crop all of your scanned photos to the aspect ratio they will be projected at. I have seen many presentations with all the photos at a 3:4 ratio, then run from a laptop set to a widescreen ratio. This results in distorted or stretched out images.

Anyway... These are a few tips that come to mind from what I have seen in my work as a mobile wedding DJ in the Edmonton, Alberta market. I also produce alot of presentations for my clients through my company Soundsations ( ). To check out a few samples see:

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