Thursday, January 1, 2004

January/February 2004 HelpLine

DPMag Published in HelpLine

Then came the DVD player. Here was a quality, moving-image, playback device that offered decent image quality on a noncomputer CRT. The problem was that it was very expensive to create DVD discs. So, until recordable DVD drives and discs came down in price, software manufacturers took advantage of the VideoCD-playback capability of most DVD players.

VideoCDs use the MPEG1 compression standard to put files on a regular CD. Since CD-R burners and discs were inexpensive, this was the main way of putting together slideshows. Unfortunately, MPEG1 compression, while remarkable technology, doesn't do a great job with images. The actual resolution of the file put on the VideoCD is 352x240 pixels. The DVD player then increases the display size of the image. Some people have described it as VHS on a CD.

It was only a matter of time for two advances to help replace the slide projector: stand-alone digital image viewers and affordable DVD recordable drives.

Stand-alone digital image viewers allow you to display pictures right from your camera's media card. Like a single 35mm projector, they're not a full-fledged multimedia playback device, but they can create transitions and allow for zooming and rotation of images.

DVD recordable drives originally cost $40,000; now, they sell for around $300. The discs, which once sold for $50 apiece, are now priced well under $10.

DVD uses MPEG2 compression, which is significantly higher quality than MPEG1. The image size is 720x480 pixels, or twice that of VideoCD. And instead of a simple slideshow, there are several software packages that allow you to create a true high-quality presentation.

You might check out Ulead DVD PictureShow (www.ulead.com), Pinnacle Instant PhotoAlbum (www.pinnaclesys.com) and Roxio Easy CD & DVD Creator (www.roxio.com), and there are other slideshow software programs that are coming on the market all the time. On the Mac, take a look at iPhoto/iDVD (www.apple.com).

To get picture resolution beyond 720x480, you'll need to hook up your computer directly to a high-definition monitor or data projector.



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