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PictureToTV

PictureToTV by PictureToTV is a little bit spartanic but the results and effects this application offer is simply stunning! It's an easy to use application to create a VideoCD or Super VideoCD holding your photo's (either made with a digital camera or scanned).

In this short guide I'll show you how to create your own Photo-VideoCD or Photo-Super VideoCD, which you can playback on your PC and on most standalone DVD-players.

Note: not all DVD players are capable of playing VideoCD or Super VideoCD.

Note: All screen shots are based on version 1.40. Different versions might appear slightly different.

Note: Read the disclaimer first!

PictureToTV (personal edition) can be bought for app. $39. The SVCD (higher resolution) plugin is app. $14. In a bundle package it's app $49.
There is also a business edition, but knowing the price is app. $300, I don't think many people will go there.

You can also download the trial version. The trial version is fully functional. However, it will print the words "EVALUATION COPY" on all created videos. This will be removed upon registering the software. For more details see the PictureToTV website.

PictureToTV: Creating your own Photo-VideoCD or SVCD
Save your digital photo's

Page overview

Installing PictureToTV

Installation of PictureToTV is a pretty straight forward process. Double click the file p2tv140.exe file (for version 1.40). Follow these steps:

PictureToTV: Starting the installation
PictureToTV: Starting the installation

Click "Yes".

PictureToTV: Starting the setup wizard
PictureToTV: Setup wizard

Click "Next".

PictureToTV: End User License Agreement
PictureToTV: End User License Agreement

Check "I accept the agreement" and click "Next".

PictureToTV: Where to install?
PictureToTV: Where to install?

Optionally you can first change the installation path to the path you wish to use. However I would recommend keeping the default path.
Click "Next".

PictureToTV: Which menu do you want?
PictureToTV: Which menu do you want?

Optionally you can first change the menu to a new name or select an existing menu, not recommended though.
Click "Next".

PictureToTV: Additional shortcuts?
PictureToTV: Additional shortcuts?

Here the setup wants to know if you do need additional shortcuts (on your desktop and/or in the quick launch bar located next to the Windows Start button).
I would like to recommend un checking both options.
Click "Next".

The next screen informs you what setup will do.
Click "Next" again. After that, PictureToTV will start copying files and thus install PictureToTV.

PictureToTV: Installing files
PictureToTV: Installing files

Once completed this window appears:

PictureToTV: Installed
PictureToTV: Installed

Optionally you can check "Launch PictureToTV", this will start PictureToTV once you click "finish".
If you don't want to have PictureToTV start instantly, then make sure you uncheck this option.
Now click "Finish". PictureToTV is installed.

Installing the Super VideoCD plugin

Before continuing: make sure you installed PictureToTV first!

Note: The Super VideoCD (SVCD) plugin is OPTIONAL.
You either have it when you bought the package deal (getting PictureToTV + SVCD plugin) or you bought the SVCD plugin separately! If you have done none of these two options, then you can skip this paragraph!

Now locate the Super VideoCD plugin installation file. Mine was called p2tvsvcd.exe, double click it.

PictureToTV: Installing the SVCD plugin
PictureToTV: Installing the SVCD plugin

The installation process is again pretty straight forward.
Click "Yes".

A screen will now appear, welcoming you to the setup.
Click "Next".

Again, a window will ask you to agree with the license agreement.
Check "I accept the agreement".
Click "Next".

The next window will ask you where to install the plugin. Setup therefore needs to know the ROOT directory of PictureToTV, by default this is C:\Program Files\PictureToTV\, unless of course you selected another directory to install PictureToTV in during the PictureToTV setup.
Click "Next".

Setup now wants to know in which windows start-menu you want a shortcut to "Uninstall SVCD plugin".
Simply ignore the question and click "Next".

Finally a window indicates that it's ready to install the plugin.
Click "Install".

Quickly after that a window confirms that the installation has been completed.
Click "Finish".

Running PictureToTV the first time


OK, let's start PictureToTV. Either this already happened because you checked the option "Launch PictureToTV" during setup or you will have to click the windows start menu (START - PROGRAMS - PICTURETOTV - PICTURETOTV).

At the first time you start PictureToTV you will get this screen:

PictureToTV: First time start
PictureToTV: First time start - register or try first

Option A: For those that want to try the trail version first, click "Register Later" (this question will show each time you start PictureToTV until you register it).
Clicking "Buy Now" will bring you to the PictureToTV website where you can register and pay. You then will receive a registration key.

Option B: For those that have a registration key: click "Register Now". A window appears asking you to enter your email address and your registration key:

PictureToTV: Enter e-mail address and registration number
PictureToTV: Enter e-mail address and registration number

After entering e-mail address and registration key, click "OK". A new popup window will inform you that your 're registered now.

Either way, the PictureToTV screen will now open, showing you the "Tip of the day".
Personally I don't like these tip-thingies but some users might find these very helpful!
Click "Close" to continue;

PictureToTV: Tip of the day
PictureToTV: Tip of the day

After closing the "Tip of the day" you will basically see this window:

PictureToTV: Start screen
PictureToTV: Start screen

PictureToTV controls and areas

Before we start creating our first picture (Super) VideoCD, you might want to familiarize yourself a bit with the interface.
It might be an unusual interface but it really isn't. Actually it's the most down to earth, but functional complete, interface I have seen so far for this type of application!

There are basically 4 areas (I defined them myself so nomenclature might not match PictureToTV's);

PictureToTV: The areas we'll be working with PictureToTV: Album Area PictureToTV: Album Content Area PictureToTV: Generic Controls Area PictureToTV: File Area
PictureToTV: The areas we'll be working with

1. The Album Area

PictureToTV: Album area
PictureToTV: The album area

Here we can navigate through our albums. By default "Album 1" (A) has been create to let you start working straight away!
In area (A) all your albums, for this particular VideoCD, are visible.

In this area you will also find some controls for working with albums (B). Below you see a short explanation of the buttons shown;

Button Functionality
PictureToTV: Add Album Add an album
PictureToTV: Delete Album Delete selected album
PictureToTV: Edit album name Edit the name of the selected album
PictureToTV: Move album up Moves the selected album on position up
PictureToTV: Move album down Moves the selected album on position down

 

2. The Album Content Area

PictureToTV: The Album Content Area
PictureToTV: The Album Content Area

In this area, you will see the actual content of an album, meaning: the pictures of your album. Later on we will see more about this area as we start adding pictures.
The arrow indicates additional controls for this particular area. The controls reflect actions on items in an album.

Button Functionality
PictureToTV: Rotate image clockwise Rotate selected image clockwise (90 degrees)
PictureToTV: Rotate image counter clockwise Rotate selected image counter clockwise (90 degrees)
PictureToTV: Preview image Preview selected image (with effects etc in separate window)
PictureToTV: Remove item from album Remove selected item from album
PictureToTV: Toggle listview or thumbnail view Toggle the view to either list view or thumbnail view
Note: list view refreshes faster, thumbnail view show you the image

 

3. The Generic Controls

PictureToTV: Generic controls
PictureToTV: Generic controls

The generic controls area is for navigating through the application.

Button Functionality
IMPORT Click this button for adding files to your albums
MUSIC With this button, the ability to add music can be accessed
EFFECTS Allows you to set the default transition effect for the selected album
DISC MENU This button allows you to select en create navigation menu's for the disc
BURN CD Guess what! This allows you to set the type of VideoCD you want and allows to to burn the CD
PREVIEW Shows you a preview of the entire VideoCD, including menus.

 

4. The File Area

PictureToTV: The File Area
PictureToTV: The File Area

This is the area where we get our content from for populating the Albums.

Tip: Also keep an eye on the progressbar indicated by arrow D. It shows you how full your VideoCD will be!

A + B
Basically (A) and (B) together work in a similar fashion as you already might know it from the Windows Explorer. On the left (A) you can select a folder, on the right (B) you basically select files. From (B) you can either drag pictures to the "Album Content Area" or you can click the -button in order to add a selected image file to the active album.
C
Here you select the filter to apply on the content shown in (B). This means that if the filter is "Supported Image Files", than in (B) you will only see images. Optionally you can set this to "All Files" thus showing all files.
D
(D) is an indicator which gives you an estimation on disk space used on the (Super) VideoCD you are currently creating.
E
This is a real must for applications like this: by checking the options "Store original pictures", PictureToTV stores the original pictures in a separate folders. This is great because the original pictures can then later easily being accessed to make high quality hard copies.

Creating you first VideoCD

Now that we are familiar with the interface, it's time to create our first Photo (Super) VideoCD.
Like I said before; the quality of VideoCD is excellent, so most of us will be very happy without the optional Super VideoCD plugin.

Tip: For more information on the differences between VideoCD and Super VideoCD: please read the Video Formats page.

As of this point I assume you just started PictureToTV as seen in "Starting PictureToTV for the first time".

By default one album already exists, called "Album 1". Keep in mind that you can create multiple albums. So it's not a bad idea to start the entire process by sorting/organizing your images. Already thinking in terms of "albums".

Note: For each Picture VideoCD (use the "File" menu) you create you can save the project file for easy retrieval later on.

Step 1: Populate the album

The first thing to do, I guess, is to populate the first album with some pictures.

Note: You cannot create an album within an album!

Simply use the file area to locate you images. Drag items (files) from the File Area to the Album Content Area as shown with the red arrow in the screen shot below, by left clicking the image (keep the left mouse button pressed). Move the mouse over the Album Content Area and release the left mouse button. You can also select multiple items either by pressing the SHIFT key, selecting from image to image (range). Or by using the CTRL key, selecting individual images. Repeat this step until you think your album is filled with images as you see fit.

Tip: You can also use the Windows Explorer to drag images/pictures from. simply drop them on the Album Content Area.

PictureToTV: Drag images from the File Area to the Album Content Area
PictureToTV: Drag images from the File Area to the Album Content Area

Note: PictureToTV supports BMP, JPG, PNG, TIF, PCX, PGM, PICT, TGA, WMF, and even EPS formatted pictures. Most digital camera's use JPG (JPEG) images, where as most scanners tend to use TIF (TIFF) images.

You can also change the order of the items within the Album Content Area by dragging one or more items to a different position (ie. drop the files in front of the image where you want them to appear).

Step 2: Rename and Add Albums

After populating the first album, you might want to rename the "Album 1" (later on this can be optionally made visible when creating the menu). Click the name in the Album Area and press the rename button (PictureToTV: Edit album name). Now enter the new name of your first album.

The next step is to create a new album. Click the new album button (PictureToTV: Add Album) in the Album Area.

If you want to, you can already give this new album a new name, using the rename button (PictureToTV: Edit album name).
An existing album can also be deleted. However, when you populated the album you want to delete (PictureToTV: Delete Album): be aware that the images within the album will be removed as well (not the actual files!).

The order in which albums appear can be changed by clicking the album you want to move and then using the up (PictureToTV: Move album up) and down (PictureToTV: Move album down) buttons.

Now repeat step 1 for the newly created album(s). Keep repeating steps 1 and 2 until you have included all your pictures or until the CD is full (see the progress bar at the bottom of the screen).

Tip: You can also drag images from one album to another. Simply open the source album and select the files you want to move to another album. The drag the selection over the album name in the Album Area and release the mouse button.

Step 3: Advanced features - Adding Transition effects to an Album

Adding transition effects (the effect used when going from one image to another) is pretty straight forward and can be done on two levels.
One level is to apply an effect on all items within an album, the second level is to apply effects per individual image.

To apply an effect on the entire album, click the "Effects" button in the Generic Controls Area. You will now see the File Area change, showing details on effects.

PictureToTV: Album Effects
PictureToTV: Album Effects, drop down list box and preview

PictureToTV offers some excellent transition effects. In version 1.40 I found these (great) effects in the drop down list box:

Random, Blinds, Circle, Contrast, Dissolve, Expansion Morph, Fade, Old Film, Rotate In, Shutter, Swirl, Twist, Zoom In, and finally Zoom Out.

I have to say that in particular the "Old Film" effect is really cool!

From the drop down list box you can select the effect you would like. On the right you will see a preview.
On this page you can also manipulate timing.

When you're done selecting and setting the transition effect, simply click the "Import" button in the Generic Controls Area.

Step 4: Advanced features - Adding Transition effects to an Image

You can also add a transition effect to a single image. Personally I'm not in favor of mixing effects, but hey: it's great to have it anyhow :-)

In the Album Content Area you can double click an image from which you wish to alter the transition effect. Double clicking the image will show something like this in a new window:

PictureToTV: Effects for individual images
PictureToTV: Effects for individual images

Here we see some great settings we can apply to a single image. To start with what we came here for: the Transition Effect. This specifies the transition between this image and the next image in the album. You can also adjust the playback time of an image (Picture Delay).

Another great thing is that you can specify Crop Size, so you can determine which part of the image is being displayed in the VideoCD.

PictureToTV: Crop Size and moving it around
PictureToTV: Crop Size and moving it around

The Crop Size slider changes the visible area of a picture. As you can see in the first screen shot above, the invisible area is much lighter than the visible area (the square). When clicking the visible are with the left mouse button (and keeping the mouse button pressed) you can shift the visible area to a more suitable place.

When clicking the "Add Text button" (PictureToTV: Add Text button), the text options appear.

PictureToTV: Text Controls
PictureToTV: Text Controls

The text controls are explained in the table below:

Control Purpose
A
Switch to TEXT mode, so you can enter text (click somewhere on the picture and start entering text.
B
Switch to MOVE mode, allows you to position your text anywhere on the picture
C
Font type selection
D
Alignment selection (left, center, right)
E
Font style (Bold, Italic, Regular)
F
Font color (click it to open a color selector)
G
Click here to leave the text controls
H
Font size
I
Go to previous image in the album
J
Go to next image in the album
K
Close this window

 

Step 5: Advanced features - Add music/sound

So after adding images, albums, effects and maybe even text, we now come to the option to add music. This is optional! So you don't need to add sound. It does however cheer up the entire slide show!

In order to add music, first click the "Music" button in the Generic Controls Area. Now the File Area again changes.

An empty list appears. Use the Add button (PictureToTV: Add Music) to add music. A dialog appears and allows you to select music files (supported types are WAV, MP3 and OGG). In the File Area you will also see the playback time of the album and the playback time of the music. This way you will be able to see if the music is to short or to long. You can add multiple pices of music.

The music you add here will be applied to the current album.

Music can be played with the play button (PictureToTV: Play button) or removed with the remove button (PictureToTV: Remoce music).

Step 6: How to create a menu

After doing all this work, it would be nice to have a nice navigation menu. Let's create one. Click the "Disc Menu" button from the Generic Controls Area. This time not only the File Area but also the Album Content Area changes. Compared to version 1.30 the menu options are strongly improved and offers great flexibility.

PictureToTV: Ready to create a menu?
PictureToTV: Ready to create a menu?

The File Area changed. Here we can select a predefined menu template. You can select our own background image if you want to (click "Browse" to use a different image, or click "Default" to use the default menu background for the template).

We can also add some music to the menu (either select "none" or click the "Browse" button next to the "Menu Music" field to select a file).

In the Album Content Area, we now see a preview of the menu. Using the arrow buttons (left and right) you can select the menu page you want to edit (each menu page can be edited individually - changes will reflect in all menu pages!). Clicking the "Edit" button, you can customize the menu view to your needs.

PictureToTV: Editing the menu
PictureToTV: Editing the menu

In this window you can move the menu thumbnails and the menu arrows. You can also edit the album numbers and album text layout (font etc.). As we have seen in Adding Effect to individual picture, we can here also use the "Add Text" button to add text to the menu page.

Step 7: Previewing

Before you continue with the next step, it's a very good idea to preview the VideoCD.

Note: if your PC is too slow, it might not be able to keep up and show some minor glitches - don't worry, it won't show in the final VideoCD.

Click the purple "Preview" button in the Generic Controls Area to activate preview.

PictureToTV: Preview the VideoCD
PictureToTV: Preview the VideoCD

The controls on the right represent the remote control of a DVD player. Click the number of the menu and press the play button.

Step 8: Burning it to a CD

OK, so our compilation has been completed, now it's time to burn the (Super) VideoCD. Click the "Burn CD" button in the Generic Controls Area. Again File Area and Album Content Area change:

PictureToTV: Ready to burn the CD
PictureToTV: Ready to burn the CD

In the section "Video Option" you can select the video system format (see Video Formats for details): PAL or NTSC.
If you have the Super VideoCD (SVCD) plugin, you will also be able to select either VCD or SVCD.

The "Burn Settings" allows you to select the CD-writer and the writing speed.
Optionally you can have Nero burning Rom deal with the burning process (check "Use Nero" - this only appears in case you have Nero installed on your PC) or have PictureToTV simulate the burning process (check "Simulate first"). This last option is useful when you have never ever burned a CD with your CD-writer. To make sure the computer can keep up with the burner.

In the lower part of the screen you can either select to just "Generate new video" file, "Generate new video and burn into CD" will do the same and after finishing the video fie will also brun it to CD. The option "Burn existing video into CD" burns a video file you have created previously.

Commonly one selects "Generate new Video and burn into CD" - this will generate the required files and burn it on CD.

In the "Save to, then burn from video file:" field, you can enter the path and filename where your VideoCD image should be stored. This is useful when you want to burn multiple copies of a VideoCD. Click "Set" to browse for a new location - make sure there is at least 800 Mb of disk space available on the disk you selected!

Once you have set and done this all, you still might want to verify if you checked "Store original pictures" and see if the size indicator is not exceeding the limits of what might fit on a CD. After that click "Start".

A dialog will show the progress on generating the video. This might take some time, depending on the speed of your PC, the selected filters etc. After that the burning process is started. When the VideoCD is done you will see this popup:

PictureToTV: Done ...

So that's basically it. I recommend playing a bit with the effects and such. Working with PictureToTV sure was fun to me!


 

 


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