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A friend who recently lost her father called me to help with scanning photos the family wanted to use as a slide show at the wake. What started as a simple slide show became a keepsake for the children and grandchildren, and a preservations of family history for the great-grandchildren and future generations.

The family is scattered across the country, so compiling the photos was the first step. I opened a DropBox account and set up a shared folder, inviting the family members to add their favorite photos. This was my first experience with DropBox, but I’m totally hooked. Thanks to Growl (http://growl.info/), I knew immediately when someone added photos. Yes, I could have had them email the photos, but using DropBox kept them together. Two of the photos that were emailed were overlooked in the final presentation strictly because I got sidetracked and neglected to add them to that shared folder. 

I ran the photos and scans through Photoshop Elements 9 to do all color correction and restoration work. The oldest photo went back to about 1925. I did a certain amount of cropping in Elements, too, but final cropping came in the next step.

I gave up trying to do the slide show with iPhoto. My biggest problem was using 50 slides with 30 minutes of background music that the family requested. After trying a few different things, I created a set of slides with Keynote. Notice, I did not say slideshow. Slides. I picked the theme, created the first slide with titles, then created slides for the rest of the photos. As I created each of the slides, I did my final cropping. Once that was done, I exported the slides to iPhoto, then started a new iMovie project.

I dropped the slides in, then added the music files. Because I wanted the slides to stay on screen for 7.5 seconds each and to loop for the duration of the movie, I ended up dropping them in 4 tmes. The big headache here was getting rid of the Ken Burns effect. Sorry, but I can’t stand it. It should not be a default setting. Let me add my own effects. And please, don’t bury the setting! To get rid of it, go to the File menu and select Project Properties. You can then set Initial Photo Placement to Fit in Frame. That’s it.

Once I tweaked the settings so that slides and sound track were the same length, I exported it to iDVD. I tried Toast first, but couldn’t find a way to add accessible folders for the original photos and music files. To add those extras with iDVD, select Edit DVD-ROM Contents from the Advanced menu. 

I set the DVD to run automatically and to also loop. That’s it. I’m sure some of you may know of an easier way, but this worked for me. Oh, and did I say that I'm hooked on DropBox? No, I won't give up my MobileMe account in favor of DropBox. They both serve a purpose. And that's an idea for another article.

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  • As sad enough as death can be, I used my technology knowledge to share lifelong photos I had of my brother with his children. Images that they had never seen before ran in a slideshow on my iPad during family hours. Seeing these images during that time seemed to take some edge off of a terrible experience for them.

  • Mary Jo Disler

    Terrific ideas, Phyl. Using Dropbox to collect photos from other family members was ingenius.
    Not 100% sure of this, and it might not have been a good alternative in your case (music requested, etc.), however I played around with one of the iPhoto “books” normally used to set up a print project, but noticed it had an option of creating a slideshow from the layout.