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Photo to Movie Blog

How Long Should My Slideshow Be?

Posted January 26th, 2012 by Chris

We frequently get questions from Photo to Movie users asking how to better manage a slideshow with hundreds of photos and dozens of songs. So how long should your slideshow be?

Photo to Movie has the capability of making a slideshow that is very short or very long. Your specific use of your slideshow will be the ultimate determinant of your slideshow length — but we offer some simple rules for determine how long to make your slideshow:

  • Make your slideshow the length of one song
  • Remove low quality photos to shorten the slideshow
  • Split longer slideshows into individual, shorter parts
  • Guide the viewer to a new subject every 6-12 seconds
  • Minimize opening/closing credit sequences

Make your slideshows the length o​f one song, approximately 3 – 6 minutes

Slideshows that are set to music should as long as one song. If you're playing a song along with the photos, the song will provide a natural story arc for the slideshow.

Most songs have a distinct beginning, middle, and end. You should adjust the ordering of the photos in your slideshow to take advantage of this natural song structure.

Also, remember that most songs fade out at the end. Make your slideshow end a few seconds early or add a blank photo at the end so that the music doesn't end while the viewer is still watching the photos.

Remove low quality photos to shorten the slideshow

You've got too many photos to fit into the time of a single song?

If you just need to get rid of a couple photos, choose the weakest photos and chop them out. If you have a wide shot of the Eiffel tower, you can get rid of the three others shots of the same thing.

Your viewers will appreciate it when you do the selection for them so that they don't have to get bored watching the same subject from six different angles and illuminations.

Blurry photo? Subject too far away? Bad lighting? Extra people in photo? Get rid of them.

Split longer slideshows into individual, shorter parts

Still have too many photos to fit into the time of a single song?

Split your slideshow into multiple parts, each one song in length.

Doing this has several benefits:

  • Keeps your audience engaged
  • Easier to organize by subject, time, or place
  • Easier to edit slideshows with fewer photos
  • Break project into smaller chunks that you have time for

You can recombine the individual parts using a movie editor or even with the DVD burning software you're using. Making each part into a separate chapter on a DVD works nicely.

Guide the viewer to a new subject every 6-12 seconds

Not using a song in your slideshow? Even if you're not setting the slideshow to music, you should still shoot for shorter 3-6 minute slideshows.

Pacing is important in your slideshow and you can use pacing to figure out how long your slideshow should be.

Each photo will evoke some type of emotional response from your viewer. You should try to keep those emotions flowing. A particular photo or photo set might include a few shots of the same subject, titles, and possibly graphics to accompany the photo. The trick is to keep the viewer's emotions moving along with the photo.

For example, if you show your grandchildren hugging their new puppy, let that sink in with one or two photos. But after 10 seconds, your viewer will be ready to move on. The emotion response of the happy grandchildren hugging has been used up and they're ready to see something else. Now it's time to show how much work they put into it by showing the puppy bath time photo.

Keep your viewer moving along in the slideshow.

Minimize opening/closing credit sequences

It can be difficult to know how long to leave captions and opening/closing credits on screen.

For opening credits and captions, we recommend using 3/4 second per important word. This gives most viewers a chance to read and digest the title but its not too long for the viewers who don't want to read it in the first place.

For closing credits where you might put attributions and other bookkeeping information, you can go a little shorter around 1/2 second per word.

And remember, this is a slideshow, not a book. Photo captions and credits should be as short as possible. Keep the viewer moving along in the slideshow.


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