Turning Photos to a DVD Slideshow

The task: take a bunch of photos from my digital camera and burn them to a DVD that would play the photos as a slideshow in any DVD player. (Actually, the task was to figure out how to do this in the simplest possible way, and make a set of instructions for an unsophisticated user to follow.)

The result: several hours of fighting with a dozen different applications before I actually had photos displayed on my TV. And this post.

I don't understand why what seems like a fairly simple task is so complicated.

This is what I found to be the easiest recipe on a stock Ubuntu 11.10 installation. Fair warning: this is quick & dirty, you don't get special effects, you don't get music, etc.

  1. Required software (load through the software center, or via apt-get): imagination, devede, brasero.
  2. Open Imagination. Click the import photos icon (it is a terrible choice of icon -- there's no clue that you should want to click on the black square to import photos) and choose your photos.
  3. Export video. Choose DVD for output; to keep it organized, drop the video file in the Videos directory in your home directory. This can take a while if you have a slow computer and/or a lot of photos.
  4. Open DeVeDe. Configure the title. Import the video you just generated.
  5. Generate the DVD ISO image; again save the image to your Videos folder.
  6. Insert a DVD in the drive. Open your Videos folder. Right click on the ISO image and choose Write to Disc.

Some notes, in no particular order:

  • If you want to tweak the slideshow, imagination will let you play around with transitions, slide duration, etc.
  • If you want to import video clips, use Openshot instead of Imagination. It's harder to use (and overkill) compared to Imagination if all you want to do is produce a static photo slideshow. But if you want to do any video editing, it's a good combination of power and ease of use.
  • If you want music, Openshot might also be your best bet. I didn't look at adding music via Imagination or DeVeDe.
  • Don't try to use the Brasero application directly. I experienced crashes/lockups while using it, but it worked well when all I did was right click the ISO and choose Write to Disc. (It's also an ugly, hard to use piece of junk.)

Things I tried and rejected:

  • K3b: After Brasero failed miserably twice, I tried K3b. Rejected it in favor of not pulling in a bunch of KDE infrastructure that I wasn't using anyway, and also in favor of the simplicity of just directly burning the file without having to explicitly open a separate app.
  • dvd-slideshow: This command line app does appeal to my inner geek, but I can't recommend it for users who want a GUI. (Even the inner geek appeal isn't enough to make me want to use it when the combination outlined above works well.)
  • Mistelix: As good as Imagination, and I would have selected it if I had quickly found a way to rotate a photo from within Mistelix. Photos that showed up auto-rotated in other apps showed up sideways in Mistelix and I didn't see an obvious rotate button. Imagination did the right thing.
  • Bombono: Junk. Don't bother with it. I opened it, saw that the tabs were overlapping the menus, couldn't figure out how to import any photos, and purged it from my system.
  • Videoporama: Development is dead. It wasn't immediately obvious that it was going to be easy to use for the simple task of creating a DVD from a set of photos.

The software stack above would be 10x better if Imagination implemented a feature to export a DVD ISO. It would be 100x better if it had a "Burn DVD" button that spit out a shiny disc that I could drop into a DVD player.

(To be fair, the whole video situation is 1000x easier than it was 5 or 6 years ago when I tried to do something similar, realized how much work it was going to be, and walked away in frustration. The tools have come a long way.)

Posted on 2012-01-24 by brian in linux .
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