If you’ve used one or two video slideshow builders then you’ll know they tend to work in a very similar way. Open a set of pictures or videos; drag or drop to rearrange them; optionally add transitions, titles or a soundtrack, then export the results as a movie.
Install the free ffDiaporama, and you might start in much the same way. The results aren’t bad, either, with a reasonable set of transitions and plenty of video export options (MP4, FLV, 3GP, AVI, MKV, MPEG, WEBM, OGV).
But start to explore, and you’ll find the program has much more to offer.
Take backgrounds, for instance. You’re not stuck with the developer’s preferred shade: it’s possible to define your own solid colour, gradient, images from the program’s excellent library, or any picture of your own.
Then there’s the soundtrack. While other slideshow builders expect you to be impressed by the ability to drag and drop an MP3 file, ffDiaporama accepts multiple files, and can switch them, pause them, or adjust their volume on a slide-by-slide basis.
The extras continue with the titles. Instead of a normal “pick a font and type some text” box, you get a choice of predefined slides for the project, chapters or credits, in either static or animated form, or you can build something new from scratch.
If you’d like to get really creative, ffDiaporama can even present your images and videos in custom shapes, with several on the screen at one time, and optionally animating them in various ways. You could have four jigsaw shapes, each with a separate picture, come together, for example. Or slide 9 shapes into a 3×3 grid, display a video in the centre and stills in all the others. This DailyMotion video has some examples of what can be done.
It’s not all good news, unfortunately. The program doesn’t use native Windows dialogs, and we found even simple file browsing options could be very slow.
Some operations can also less than intuitive. You might tell the program to add a predefined title with scrolling credits, for instance, but there’s no obvious way to enter any text. We tried to create a “Custom credit titles” slide, only to be asked to “select a model first” (there were no models to select). And when you finally figure out that you need to convert it to a “standard slide”, you’re confronted with so many positioning, animation and configuration options that they need a manual all on their own.
Being different isn’t always a good thing, then, but there’s no doubting ffDiaporama’s power, and if you need to get really creative with your video slideshows – and you’re ready to spend time mastering the interface – then we’d give it a try.
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