The Slideshow Module - Part 1: Basic Tour

There are many articles, tips, and tutorials about the Library module. Even more has been written on wandering through the complexities and features of the Develop module. No doubt that these two modules are at the heart of Lightroom and where we spend the majority of our time.

But Lightroom does have three other modules! The Print module seems to be the next most familiar. However, when I talk to users I am always surprised at how few ever really venture into the Web and Slideshow modules. Many have taken a look when they started using Lightroom. Few have returned. So let's take a tour!

My plan is to start with a basic tour of the Slideshow module (Part 1) followed by the last part of the tour and some tips and tricks for slideshows (Part 2). At a later date we'll do the same for the Web module.

You access the Slideshow module by clicking on it in the module picker or pressing Command-Option-3 (CTRL-ALT-3 in Windows). You'll be greeted by some configuration of the interface that resembles this.

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OK. Not so strange. There are recognizable elements here. I think we can start to get a little comfortable in this module!

At the top is the familiar ID Plate and module picker. The bottom contains the ever-present filmstrip. Between those two we have the expect left panel, work area, right panel layout. Let's take a closer look at these.

The left panel has the usual Preview window at the top. Below that is the Template Browser. This interacts with the Preview window in the same way that Develop Presets do. As you hover over templates the preview for that template will be shown. The Template Browser is where you can choose the built in templates and save templates of your own.

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As in each of the modules, your Collections are next. Take a look at the collection named Example. The icon appears to be a slide! If you create a collection in the Slideshow module, the collection gets this icon to remind you it is a slideshow. All of your slideshow settings and images are stored in this collection. If you double-click on this collection anywhere else in Lightroom, you will be taken to the Slideshow module and all your images and settings will be back where you left them. Just click on the + and choose Create Slideshow...

Lastly, there are two buttons at the bottom of the panel: Export PDF... and Export Video... These do exactly what you'd think. They allow you to export your slideshow masterpiece to a PDF or as a video. Useful for sharing your slideshow with those who don't have Lightroom.

So far so good. Now let's dive into the real substance in this module; the right panel.

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There is a lot here so we'll go group by group starting at the top with Options.

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Zoom to Fill Frame will zoom the image in far enough to fill the frame we define in the Layout group. You can move the image until the zoomed section you want is in the frame. Stroke Border adds a border around the image. You can define both the color of the border and the width. Cast Shadow adds a 3D effect by casting a shadow behind the image. You can adjust Opacity, Offset, Radius, and Angle for the shadow.

(Each feature has a small activation checkbox. Check to activate, uncheck to deactivate.)

On to Layout.

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Here you define the frame we talked about. Use the sliders or enter numbers directly. Sides with the square active will be linked and when you move one the other linked edges will move. Activate the square next to Link All to move all four edges in unison. The Show Guides option will show guidelines in the work area. When these are visible you can directly grab these and adjust the frame visually.

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Overlays handles all of the other visuals you can add to the slideshow beyond the images. The ubiquitous Identity Plate is up first. (I still maintain that it's time to change the name of this element. It has been used for so many things other then the Identity Plate since version 2 came out!) You can use a text or graphic Identity Plate and control the opacity and scale (size) of the plate. Your Identity Plate can be rendered above or behind the image depending on whether the Render behind image feature is active. If you use a text Identity Plate then the Override color checkbox and color picker will be available to you.

All of your Watermarks are available. Check the Watermarking checkbox and choose your watermark preset to apply to the images. If you want to display the star rating for each image then check the Rating Stars checkbox and select the color, opacity, and scale (size) for the stars. The last two sections deal with text.

Select some custom text in the work area and you can set the color, opacity, font, and face for the custom text. The checkbox for Text Overlays will hide or show ALL custom text in the slideshow. Shadow will activate drop shadows for the custom text. The same controls for this shadow are available as we have for the image shadow.

The Backdrop group lets you control what the "stage" looks like.

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I think these sections are out of order. At least the way I usually approach this group. I would first set a Background color. Then, if I decide to use a Background Image, I would drag it from the filmstrip and adjust the opacity to let some of the background color through. The last thing I'd do is apply a Color Wash. Think of the color wash as an overlay gradient of color that slowly fades as it crosses your background. Adjusting the opacity and angle let's you vary the effect. Of course, all of these are optional. (If all three are off you get a black background)

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The Titles group let's you set up an opening slide and a closing slide. The options are exactly the same for both slides so let's just discuss the Intro Screen.

The color picker to the right of the slide name sets the color of the slide. If you do nothing else you can start at a blank screen of the chosen color and end at a screen of the same color. This is useful so the audience won't be distracted by the first or last slides as you open or close your presentation remarks.

I a blank slide isn't enough for you can activate the Add Identity Plate feature. You can then click in the small preview and choose the identity plate to use. If you choose a text based identity plate the color is changed using the Override Color feature and use the color picker there to choose a new color. Lastly, you may adjust the size of the identity plate using the Scale slider.

We're almost done with the right panel.

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Once you get through all of this you'll want to decide how to playback your slideshow masterpiece. That's the job of the Playback group! If yu decide to have music accompany your show activate the Soundtrack feature and click the Select Music button. That will open a Finder (or Explorer) window where you can navigate to the music file you want to use. The duration of the piece you selected will show up. If that's long enough for your show then you can save some time by clicking the Fit to Music button to adjust the slide durations so that the show ends when the music does.

If you have multiple screens the next section let's you choose which screen to play the show on and whether the other screens should be blanked out when the show is playing.

If you didn't choose to have the show fit the music the next section is where you will set the duration of the slide and the duration of the fade between slides. If you want to introduce a color during the fade activate the Color option and use the color picker to pick the color.

Random Order shuffles the order of the slides. Repeat will restart the slideshow from the beginning automatically (useful to kiosk type applications). And Prepare Previews in Advance insures that your slideshow won't stall while waiting for a slide to render. All slides are rendered before the show starts for a smooth playback.

At the bottom of the right panel you find the Preview button and the Play button. Use preview while you are working on your show to quickly get a glimpse of how it is going. The slideshow will play in the work area. Pressing play will play the slideshow fullscreen.

Whew! I told you there was a lot in the right panel!

We'll break here and pickup the last part of the tour in the next article. There we'll also take a look at a few tips and tricks.