Flummoxed by iPhoto

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Reader Jerome Johnston has upgraded to iLife ‘05, but is unhappy with iPhoto’s Export options. He writes:

I frequently make QuickTime Movies out of slide shows I have assembled in iPhoto. I recently upgraded to the new iPhoto (5.0.1) and was disappointed at how much larger the movie size was. In the previous version of iPhoto the “large” movie option was 640x480. I made a large movie with 104 photos and the size of the movie was 12 MB. In the new version the “large” option is 720x480; there is no 640x480 option. Making a movie out of the identical slide show resulted in a file that is 76 MB. Why does this happen?

What’s happening here, Jerome, is that you’re choosing the “wrong” slideshow option. iPhoto 5 includes two varieties of slideshow—the old-fashioned, mostly-static slideshow you’re accustomed to and the new-fangled, swoopy-doopy slideshow that you find so perplexing. It’s like this:

When you select a group of pictures in iPhoto 5 and click the Slideshow button at the bottom of the window, a new slideshow appears in iPhoto’s Source pane and the main window adopts a new look—one where the selected pictures are arrayed across the top of the window. This window is your ticket to making the new swoopy-doopy slideshow. Choose Export from the File menu and you’ll see the option to export your slideshow in one of three sizes—Small (240x180), Medium (320x240(, and Large (720x480). The resulting slideshow is exported using MPEG-4 video and can contain the Ken Burns transition.

If, instead, you choose pictures in an album or the iPhoto library and then select Export from the Share menu, you’ll be greeted with the familiar Export Photos window. Click the QuickTime tab and you’ll discover that iPhoto 5 will, by default, export your slideshow at 640x480. The resulting slideshow uses Photo JPEG and does not render the Ken Burns effect.

Compare the same collection of photos exported at the same size in these two slideshow formats and you’ll discover that the old-fashioned static slideshow is loads smaller than the Burnsian swoopy-doopy slideshow. I created such a slideshow and the old was 5.3MB. The new-fangled slideshow weighed in at 115.8MB. This disparity can be attributed to not only Photo JPEG images being less bulky than MPEG-4 files, but also to the many extra frames that must be rendered for Mr. Burns’ effect.

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