Secrets of ProShow® Experts: The Official Guide to Creating Your Best Slide Shows with ProShow Gold and Producer
by Paul Schmidt, ©2010
Making video slide shows out of your digital pictures is a terrific way to use the pictures, exercise your creativity and have some fun. While this book is nominally about the software that Paul and his company, PhotoDex, created, you could benefit from reading this book whether you use the ProShow software or not. In fact, if you do the kinds of presentations more suited to PowerPoint, this is still a good book because the principles here apply to good presentations–period.
This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it. This book is far more about the show than the software making the show. In the introduction, Paul puts it this way:
This book is about what makes a great slide show; this is not just a book about ProShow, though. I intentionally don ’t explain how to use ProShow, the user interface, or exactly how ProShow works. [...] The content of this book could easily be applied to any number of different types of software, including business presentation programs, video editors, and 3D animation programs. ProShow is used as the example application, but mostly the core principles apply.
He hits all the high points of doing a good slide show (or a presentation): have a message, tell a story, know the audience, and keep it simple. He talks about visual composition, proper use of fonts, alignment and contrast. While he discusses how the slide show is a unique format for a presentation, he emphasizes the fundamental principles that apply just as much to a presentation with PowerPoint as a slide show with ProShow.
What I liked
The author is Paul Schmidt the CEO and a founder of Photodex who sell the ProShow software. This book could seem to be a self-serving substitute for proper documentation for the software, but it isn’t that at all. Although you’re probably not going to get this book if you have no interest in the software, it’s not primarily about the software at all-in fact, if you want detailed information about using ProShow or tutorials for it, this book isn’t the best resource out there. (I think the best resource is the ProShow enthusiasts forum).
That’s not to say that you won’t learn a lot about the software, you will, but you’ll learn far more about making a great slide show and that’s a huge part of the book’s value, you’ll be able to apply the content in several places using several tools.
Mechanically, the book is well written: conversational, clear, reasonably concise and well-illustrated with examples. There’s an accompanying CD with images, sample slide show fragments and even more examples.
What I didn’t like.
I went into this one biased against it and was immediately surprised by how good it was. Now I find it hard to identify anything more than nits to complain about. I occasionally found Paul’s opinions about photography grating–no, Paul, there really still are reasons to shoot in portrait mode–but that’s a nit when he’s got the principles so well-articulated. I wish it were a bit less expensive, but these kinds of books aren’t cheap to print, and considering the DVD that’s included, that’s a nit also.
Recommend the book, the ideas and the software.
If you want a creative outlet for your photography or just something to help people relive an event, get ProShow and make some slide shows–but get this book, too. Your slide shows will be better, your presentations better and the audiences for both will appreciate it.