"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Photo slide-shows on Linux: Imagination

As soon as Summer comes I find myself juggling with hundreds of digital photos, taken during trips, holidays, picnics and other “Summer activities”. This amount of pictures needs a handy way to be shown and distributed to relatives and friends without becoming too boring. Since the first time I bought a DVD writer I started producing short slide-shows videos showing my photos with some transitions and some background music. I used doing it using an old Windows program but, since I upgraded my desktop computer I decided not to re-install that old program and producing my videos entirely using Linux.


Imagination is a simple program dedicated to producing video slide-shows. It can easily installed from Ubuntu's software centre. Once started the program shows a very intuitive user interface with a film strip on the bottom, a preview area on the left and current slide details on the right.

another user interface layout is available with slides arranged on a grid in place of the preview area. this layout make simpler the task of arranging slide order.

Once the pictures are loaded the program allows selecting a transition, adding some zoom and pan motion effects or some descriptive text to each slide. The slide-show can then be previewed and eventually exported directly in MPEG “.VOB” format ready to be included in a DVD.

Far from being perfect …

Imagination does its job but still is a bit raw on some aspects. I'd like, for example, a better control on slides timing; actually only the slide duration time (in seconds) and three transition speeds (fast, normal and slow) are available. With more fine regulation it could be possible to exactly match slide-show duration with the selected songs. The user interface also has some defect like in changing slide order that is only possible dragging one slide at time.


If I needed a full control over the slide-show I'd probably look for another program: many video-editing applications, like Cinelerra, allow also slide-show creation. What I really need is a program to produce a slide-show with the minimum effort. And Imagination does just this. Last but not least Imagination projects are plain text files so it wouldn't be too difficult to write a script to automate the slide-show creation process. But this is true for many programs at least in the Linux universe.