Building better slideshows on your iPad

So you’ve fine-tuned a collection of images in iPhoto for iOS—now you can create a polished slideshow with them by tapping the power of iMovie on your iPad. Why would you want to do this when iPhoto already provides you with eight different slideshow styles to choose from?

I move over to iMovie to create my presentations for two reasons. First, I have more control over authoring the video, as you will see in a minute. And second, I can easily share the finished product online to YouTube and other social sites. Plus, it’s an easy workflow.

Selecting images in iPhoto for iOS

Once your pictures are in good shape in iPhoto, choose up to 25 images to share with iMovie. In iPhoto, tap the Edit button in the upper-right corner. Tap the Gear icon in the lower-right corner, and choose Select Multiple from the pop-up menu. You can tap on individual thumbnails to select them, or use the Range button at the top of the interface. Then tap the Done button in the upper-right corner.

Select Multiple—Select up to 25 images to share with iMovie for your presentation.

Sharing images with iMovie for iOS

With all of the images selected, tap the Share button in iPhoto. Choose iMovie from the pop-up menu. iPhoto will want to confirm your choice. Tap on Selected in the following menu. iPhoto will then share the images with iMovie and switch to that application.

Choose iMovie—In the Share menu, tap on the iMovie (starred) icon.

Fine-tuning the slideshow in iMovie

When iMovie opens, it will ask if you want to create a new project, or select an existing project to which to add these images. More often than not, you'll probably tap on New Project. iMovie will then create the new project, open it, import the photos, and place them on the timeline.

You’ll see your pictures on the timeline, and most likely iMovie will have selected a theme for you. Tap the Gear icon in the upper right corner to choose the theme you want. At this point, I also turn off the Theme Music. I want to put my own tunes to these images. If you haven’t used the theme music to death yet, go ahead and leave the switch in the ON position. By doing so, you can skip the next section.

Project Settings—Choose your theme and decide if you want to use its accompanying music track too.

Adding music

On the left side of the interface, I tap on the music note icon to reveal my iTunes library. I keep a handful of royalty-free soundtracks in there for use in my videos. For this presentation, I chose a lovely piano piece to accompany the images. iMovie will add the audio to the timeline as a green frame for the pictures.

Choose Music—If you don’t use the theme music, you can select your own from the iTunes library.

You can adjust the volume by double-tapping on the green frame to reveal the Settings menu. If you decide you don’t like the music at all, tap on the Delete Clip button and select another piece.

Audio Settings—Adjusting the volume level for the soundtrack.

Rearranging frames

Adjusting the sequence of images is straightforward. Tap and hold on the photo you want to move, then drag it to its new position.

Adjusting Crop, Zoom, and Duration

Each photo frame can be individually adjusted for cropping and a Ken Burns effect. Tap on the thumbnail in the timeline to highlight the clip with a yellow border. Adjust the starting position to your liking. You can pinch outward to zoom the photo. Then tap the End button for the closing framing. Tap Done when finished.

Ken Burns—Adjusting the Ken Burns effect.

Personally, I like less movement with the Ken Burns effect than iMovie uses as its default. So I typically adjust each frame in the presentation.

You can also adjust the duration for any frame. The default is 4 seconds. Tap on the yellow handle and drag to lengthen or shorten its play time.

Fine-tuning the transition

Along those lines, you can also choose something different than the default 1-second cross-dissolve between any two images. Tap once on the transition icon in between the frames. It looks like a pair of triangles positioned nose to nose. Once highlighted, tap on the new yellow triangles that appear. Tap twice on the yellow dot that’s now revealed to display the Transition Settings dialog box.

Transition Settings—Choose the type and duration for a transition.

After you’ve made your adjustments to the transition, click on the yellow triangles again to close the dialog box and lock in your choices.

Adding titles

iMovie offers you three basic title styles: opening, middle, and ending. And there’s not much you can do with them other than add type. One trick that I use to create a stand-alone title frame is to keep a black photo in my Camera Roll. I add this image to iMovie for creating opening and closing titles.

Title—Create an opening title in iMovie.

In iMovie, choose the black frame by tapping on the Photos icon to access your Camera Roll. Once you’ve added the picture to the beginning or end of the slideshow, double tap on it to display the Photo Settings dialog box. Here’s where you set the title style and add the text. Tap again on the thumbnail to close the dialog box.

Viewing the finished product

Even though you can watch your slideshow right there in iMovie’s working area, a better experience is waiting for you in Projects view. You can return there by clicking on the star icon that’s next to the question mark icon at the top of the interface.

Optimized Viewing—Optimize the playback and enjoy a full-screen presentation of your slideshow.

In Projects view, tap on the play button. iMovie will ask you if it’s OK to optimize the video. I recommend that you click OK. After a minute or so, you’ll be treated to a full-screen, high-resolution presentation of your slideshow.

Sharing your presentation

Now it’s time to share your work with the world. While still in Projects view, tap on the Share icon. You might want to save the presentation to your Camera Roll, since that’s the centralized database for imagery on the iPad. iMovie will ask you to choose an export size ranging from Medium (360p) to Full HD (1080p). I usually choose 720p for my iPad mini.

Sharing—Lots of options are available by tapping on the Share button.

I also like publishing to YouTube, which is another option in the Share menu. iMovie will ask you to sign in to your YouTube account, then add tags, a description, and movie size. Once everything is in order, the video will be uploaded. Other sharing options include Vimeo, CNN iReport, and Facebook.

You can watch the slideshow I created on the iPad mini for this article here:

Final thoughts

Once you’ve created a slideshow in iMovie for iOS, you realize just how powerful this mobile software is. And it makes a wonderful companion to iPhoto for iOS. You can organize and edit images in iPhoto, and then build your presentation and share it with the world from iMovie. That’s quite a production team (for less than $10).

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