How to Create a Slide Show for iDVD with iPhoto

The details.

Greetings, visitors! I noticed that this rather old post has been getting a lot of hits lately. Sadly, it’s not up-to-date with the current version of iPhoto. I’m pretty sure it’s based on iPhoto ’06. I’m looking into how I can do this with iLife ’09; when I get new instructions written, I’ll post a link to them here. Until then, just be aware that these instructions probably won’t work for the current version of iPhoto.

Last week, I wrote a brief article about how I was creating slide shows for an iDVD project. After struggling too long with an iMovie bug that manifests itself with the Ken Burns effect applied to high resolution photos, I turned to iPhoto. My article didn’t go into details about it, but I asked readers to let me know if they wanted more information. Lauren commented that she did. So here’s a bit more detail.

The Goal

I wanted to create a DVD that included still images we’d taken during several trips to points of interest in the Southwest. The DVD would be displayed at a trade show, so it needed to look good.

I like the Ken Burns effect that’s part of various Apple software programs. This effect, named for filmmaker Ken Burns, combines movement with zooming to add motion to still images. Mr. Burns uses this technique extensively in his historical documentaries to make old, still images more visually appealing and interesting to viewers. It, in effect, makes motion possible in images created before motion picture technology was available.

At least three Apple software programs utilize this effect: the System Preferences Screen Saver, iPhoto, and iDVD. I’m sure others do, too. If you know what they are, please don’t hesitate to list them in the Comments for this post.

The idea was to build a slide show using the effect, add music and titles, and include the resulting “movie” on my DVD.

iMovie Fails Miserably

I’d been using iMovie to build a slideshow using this effect, but the high-resolution photo bug was preventing me from getting the job done. This bug, which is under discussion on the Apple Support forums, blanks out an image when you attempt to apply the Ken Burns effect to it. This makes it impossible to manually apply the effect. Extremely frustrating.

I hope Apple does something to fix the bug soon.

iPhoto to the Rescue!

The solution I came up with was to create the slideshow movie in iPhoto and bring it into iMovie as a clip for a longer movie. I could also add chapter markers and title pages and all sorts of cool iMovie things to the project before pulling it into iDVD for menu stuff and burning.

Here’s one way to create a slide show movie in iPhoto. (Of course, there are other ways. This is the way I did it.)

  1. Open iPhoto.
  2. Create a new album and give it the name you want to use for your slideshow.
  3. Drag photos that you want to include in the slide show from any other album or the Library into the new album.
  4. Open the album you created.
  5. Drag the photos around to put them in the order in which you want them to appear.

    Rearrange the photos

  6. With the album’s contents displayed and no single image selected, click the Slide Show button at the bottom of the window. A new Slideshow album is created and displayed.

    A New slide show

  7. Click the Settings button to display default settings for all the slides in the slide show.

    Default settings

  8. Choose a desired transition from the Transition pop-up menu.
  9. Toggle the check boxes so only the following ones are turned on:
    • Scale photos to fill screen
    • Automatic Ken Burns Effect
  10. Select the Fit slideshow to music radio button.
  11. Choose a format from the Slideshow Format pop-up menu. Don’t leave it set to Current Display; pick the option that corresponds to the format of your iMovie project.
  12. Click OK.
  13. Back in the slideshow album’s window, click the Music button.
  14. In the dialog sheet that appears, make sure the Play music during slideshow check box is turned on. Then use the dialog to locate and select the song you want to play during the slideshow and click OK.

    Choose music

You’re now ready to preview the slide show. Click the Play button, sit back, and watch the entire show.

Fine-Tuning the Presentation

While you watch the show, you may want to make notes about the order of the slides, the amount of time each slide appears (the longer the music, the move time per slide; the more slides, the shorter the time per slide), and the way the Ken Burns effect works on your images — particularly the vertical orientation (portrait) images. You can fine tune each image if you like by setting slide options. (This is where iMovie failed me, but iPhoto doesn’t seem to have the same bug.)

To change the order in which slides appear, drag them into a different order at the top of the slide show album’s window.

The following changes override the default settings for the slide show for a specific slide.

To set basic options for a specific slide:

  1. Select the slide you want to change.
  2. Choose options from the Effect or Transition pop-up menu.

To set Ken Burns Effect options for a specific slide:

  1. Select the slide you want to change.
  2. Turn on the Ken Burns Effect check box.
  3. If necessary, drag the slider to the Start position.
  4. Drag the zoom slider to the desired start magnification.
  5. In the image window, drag the image to the desired start view.

    Ken Burns Start

  6. Drag the slider to the End position.
  7. Drag the zoom slider to the desired end magnification.
  8. In the image window, drag the image to the desired end view.

    Ken Burns End

The effect will move and zoom the image smoothly from the start to end settings.

Saving the Slide Show as an iDVD-Ready Movie

This is the painfully simple part of the job. Just choose Share > Send to iDVD.

iPhoto will create a slide show movie in QuickTime format and save it to your hard disk in the Movie folder. This may take some time — enough for a coffee or bathroom break.

When iPhoto is finished, it launches iDVD and places the movie in whatever Project was last used. You can use it there if you like or do what I did: delete it from the project, close the project without saving it, and quit iDVD. Then open your iMovie project and drag the icon for the movie into it. You can then add titles and chapter markers and other iMovie things to fancy it up.


What I like most about this technique is the quality of the movie. It’s pretty darn good — certainly good enough for DVD use on a regular television. And I don’t know if I’m imagining things, but it seems to be better than the slide shows I’ve created with iMovie.

Best of all, if you like the show with the default settings, it only takes minutes to create. In fact, your Mac is likely to take more time saving the slide show as a movie than you took to put it together.

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41 thoughts on “How to Create a Slide Show for iDVD with iPhoto

  1. Interesting. I am thinking about doing a similar slide show with stills. What resolution – and also what frame size were your stills? I’ve read they should be 72 dpi (ppi) and a variety of sizes. I want to burn a dvd and then project that onto a large screen.


  2. “high resolution” – so not 72ppi? I am doing this for a “slide show” for a non-profit that uses Windoze Movie Maker — and will be projecting on a large screen. I’ve read that iMovie wants 72 ppi. I’ve heard anywhere from 72ppi to 400 ppi for the W MM resolution and am completely confused. (My D70 pix are 300ppi and can be upscaled, but I thought that size resolution was for prints!)

  3. The photos were all kinds of resolutions, from 72 to 180 to 300. iPhoto took care of all the downsampling when it exported in QuickTime movie format. That’s what I brought into iMovie. Hope that helps.

  4. It does, thank you, indicating there should be downsizing to prob. 72 – hurrah for Macs! And, btw, thanks for your books – I’ve appreciated the QuickStart guides, incl. to Tiger!

  5. Thank you for your articles helpful hints.

    After saving the slideshow as iDVD and quitting it (as your suggestion-I don’t want to use the iDVD templates… they look cheesy to me and they are not what I need anyway…) I opened iMovie but could not drag the iDVD project into it… It aapears gray and I can’t select it.

    Can you elaborate more on how to accomplish it? Since yesterday I’ve been trying to do a slideshow using photos with music for a presentation. iPhoto’s slideshow, once exported to burn a disc had a poor quality even in the large res and did not work for me.

  6. Marilu, I think you misunderstood me. You should be using iPhoto to create the slideshow and then save it for iDVD using the following iPhoto command:

    Share > Send to iDVD

    This does not create an iDVD project. It creates a QuickTime movie. You can then bring that QuickTime movie into iMovie for further editing.

    Hope this helps!

  7. When you import the Quicktime move into iMovie, how do you then add title screens before certain shots? I’d like to do this but when I improt the QT Movie I made in iPhoto it appears as just “one” frame and I can’t figure out how to add title pages as you can when you have individual still shots and can put a title page between shots. I can’t figure out how to edit the QT file because it is already one file. Thanks!

  8. If I create the slide show in iPhoto and import the QT file into iMovie, can I then add title pages? I just need a few to add before certain photos. I know how to do this in iMovie between photos, but am not sure how to do it in the imported QT file because it is one long piece instead of photos that I can insert things between. Do I need to split it then add a title page? Thank you. good info on this site!

    d. kelly

  9. I have been looking for an answer for this Ken Burns bug and without a doubt yours has been the best help above a lot I have been reading this week! I have a question though, have you tried or do you think it is possible in this way to insert video scenes in between the photos?

    And is so nice of everyone to be sharing solutions and answers, but don’t you think it blows anybody’s mind that this guys in Apple are so irresponsible that make you spend $80.00 USD for an iLife 6 that in the beginning does not even do right what the previous version could? How come we are all trying to solve what their developers should be doing? It doesn’t sound fare to me…

    Thank you… you saved the day.

  10. I agree with you about fixing bugs, Ilena. I’m really bothered, in fact, that Apple knows about problems in its software and is apparently not interested in fixing them. It’s not just this problem, but it’s the iPod podcast playlist problem I’ve written about elsewhere in this blog. Many people are unhappy about the problem and they’re complaining in Apple’s support forums, which they monitor. But Apple isn’t stepping up to the plate to fix the problems. Instead, they seem busy updating other software to close up perceived security holes.

    Oh, well.

    In answer to your question, if you create the slide show movie in iPhoto, you can then bring it into iMovie and add additional clips, transitions and titles (as Kelly asked). You can also edit and split the iPhoto-created clips in iMovie to do other things with them.

    Me, I’ve decided I’ve had enough of iMovie. I bought Final Cut Express for my movie editing needs.

    Perhaps that’s what Apple expects all of us to do.

  11. Thank you very much for your comments. I guess that in the end I must check on Final Cut Express, which I thought was more complex…. Go figure! ;)

    Have a terrific day!!!!!!

    And thanks again… really.

  12. Hi, Thanks for the great tips here. I’ve got my quicktime movie and the iMovie project. What I can’t figure out, is how do I burn this to a DVD to watch on a television with a DVD player? In iMovie, when I go to Burn Project to Disc it says it’s just burning a copy of the project to the disc, NOT making a video that can be watched from a DVD player. Any suggestions would be most helpful.


  13. Great! Thanks. I have iDVD. Do you know of a way to bypass the cheesy themes, so I can just have my simple movie? Thanks so much!


  14. I don’t know the answer to that question. I think you might be stuck with one of the cheesy themes. Do what I do: pick the one that’s the least cheesy.

    Good luck!

  15. Thanks. Great site, I found it through a google search. Also recognize a bunch of photos as I just returned from vacation in AZ (Sedona and Payson) Thanks for your help, VERY much appreciated.

  16. Hi Maria,

    I am confused about your description of saving a iPhoto slideshow, you said:

    Saving the Slide Show as an iDVD-Ready Movie

    This is the painfully simple part of the job. Just choose Share > Send to iDVD.

    iPhoto will create a slide show movie in QuickTime format and save it to your hard disk in the Movie folder. This may take some time — enough for a coffee or bathroom break.

    When iPhoto is finished, it launches iDVD and places the movie in whatever Project was last used. You can use it there if you like or do what I did: delete it from the project, close the project without saving it, and quit iDVD. Then open your iMovie project and drag the icon for the movie into it. You can then add titles and chapter markers and other iMovie things to fancy it up.

    My understanding is that you have to choose File> Export in order for your iPhoto slideshow to be saved as a Quicktime Movie. What is the difference between this an choosing Share> Send to IDVD?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks, Mike.

  17. I think there is some confusion about the application being used to create the slide show.

    My instructions are for using iPhoto to create and save the slide show as a QuickTime movie. Are you, perhaps, thinking that I was talking about creating the slide show in iMovie?

    My article is a mostly workaround for the Ken Burns effect bug in iMovie. It gives you most of the controls you’d have in iMovie (transitions, effects, Ken Burns Effect, timing, etc.) and lets you preview it before committing it to disk.

    Or are you just saying that the File > Export command AFTER creating the slide show (in iPhoto) appears to be another way to export a slide show as an iDVD movie? If so, you are correct. But I think the exported movie’s resolution and quality is higher when exported using the Send to iDVD command. The Export command apparently limits you to 604×480.

    Hope this helps! Sorry for the confusion.

  18. Thanks for the timely response, I understand your concept, I also like the Ken Burns effect and plan to use it it a slideshow, and will follow your procedure.

    I put together a slideshow in iPhoto using random transitions without the Ken Burns effect, and had music from iTunes library, I sent the slideshow to iDVD, used a theme and burned to a DVD-R 8x. I was not pleased with the quality of the DVD at all. When previewing the slideshow in iPhoto it was crystal clear.

    My camera is a Nikon D70, takes great pictures. I have a Mac Mini with Intel Core Duo, 1GB Ram, with SuperDrive DVD player, I have all the latest updates for Max OS X 10.4.9. Any comment on poor quality DVD burn would be greatly appreciated. This was the first DVD that I burned on this system.

    Thanks again, Mike.

  19. Mike, I sure wish I knew the answer. I also followed the procedure to create slide shows in iPhoto and bring them into iDVD to create a DVD. Although the quality was better than when I tried doing it from iMovie, it still wasn’t what I’d consider GOOD. I think that when you’re starting with 7 megapixel or better images taken with a decent camera, you should get better results.

    I’m still experimenting with this. If I come up with any good solutions, I’ll probably blog it on this site. In the meantime, if you learn anything that can help us, please do comment about it here.

    Good luck!

  20. I created a slide show in i photo (i life 06) and tried to import it to i movie, but received the following message:the file could not be imported: QickTime couldn’t parse it:-43. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong.



  21. You might not be doing anything “wrong” at all. It might be a file corruption problem. Maybe one of the photos is bad? I’ve never seen that message, so I really don’t know what’s going on.

    My advice: try making a smaller slideshow with different photos. See if that works. If it does, one of your photos in the original show might be bad. If it doesn’t, you either have a problem with iPhoto or QuickTime.

    Hope this helps, at least a little.

  22. I share the comments from the last couple of posts – I have never been happy with the outputted quality on DVD from a slideshow. They look great on the monitor but pretty awful on the TV – the picture I use are, in the main good quality crisp images. I read somewhere that there is a “mask” that you have to apply to Quick Time to improve the quality. Does anyone know what the mask is and how you apply it? It seems strange that a wonderful programme like Iphoto (and it is!) is let down by the next stage in the process of converting to a movie and burning onto a DVD.

  23. Is it possible to use more than one song when producing the slideshow in iPhoto for transport to iMovie? I can’t find a way to use mor ethan a single song – I would like an automatic transition from one song to the other as the slides progress. Any deas?

  24. Scott, I don’t think there’s a way to export an iPhoto slide show (as discussed here) directly to your Web site. You’d need an FTP client to upload the slide show’s MOV file.

    Al, it’s a lot easier than you might think! Simply create a playlist that has the songs you want, then select the playlist (rather than one of its songs) as the music for your slideshow.

  25. In answer to Mina’s question “Do you know of a way to bypass the cheesy themes” (comment 14), I think I know one, although it has a flaw. In the iDVD project, if you click the “Map” button, you’ll see a map of all the parts. The first one is empty and says “Drag content here to automatically play when the disk is inserted”. You can drag your movie inthere. that part will play when you insert your DVD, which is your actual movie.

    The flaw is, that when your movie ends, you’ll end up in a cheesy theme, I didn’t succeed in removing that…

    Oh, and I’m still using iLife ’05…

  26. Pingback: Quick Movies for Trade Shows « Trade Show Displays, Booths, Exhibits Blog

  27. Thanks for all the information on creating slideshows on DVD.

    If I want to divide an iDVD slideshow into “scenes” (ie group the slides in categories accessible from the menu screen of the DVD), which of the following is best?

    1. To create short individual topic slideshows in iPhoto to transfer to iMovie and put then together as one long movie and add chapter markers


    2. Tto create one long (multi-topic) iPhoto slideshow to transfer to iMovie and split it in iMovie and add chapter markers at each split?

  28. Either method will work. I think it depends on how you want to handle the music. Splitting them in iMovie AFTER music has already been made part of the show might not be possible.

  29. Why bother with iPhoto and iMovie at all, when you can create and burn your slideshow directly in iDVD, complete with transitions and music?

  30. Excellent discussion regarding creating a movie from a slideshow! I could not figure out how to get more than one song for music background, so thanks for the crucial hint of selecting the playlist instead of the songs!

    I too have been somewhat unhappy with the quality of the final DVD compared to the original iphoto slideshow, but I think it may just be a feature of the final quicktime resolution (720×540). It would be nice if Apple would add a toggle to up the quicktime resolution to 850 or even 1000. This seems crucial as more of us get HDTVs

  31. Paul, this is one reason why I make my slideshow in iDVD and burn directly to a DVD. In iDVD you can set higher resolution and it will not downsize them like iPhoto does.

    I recently did an iDVD slideshow for a local photo club at 1024 pixels x 768 pixels because that is the resolution of their digital projector. It worked just fine.

  32. Well, on iLife ’08, you would actually have to not click the slideshow button on the botom( there isnt one) but click the plus sign and click slideshow and it will have the name nad click make and it will work the same way.

  33. Can anyone please let me know how to adjust the audio volume in iphoto.I added musin from itunes to my slide show but the music is too loud for usin in iDVD with other movies.

    Many thanks


  34. Hi Maria,

    This description is great, I have been hunting the internet all day trying to work out how to burn a DVD to good quality through iDVD, I have been trying everything from early this morning. I am burning the DVD now once it went into iDVD I had to burn it from there as I couldn’t get it to open in iMovie?
    The first time I did as you said and closed it in iDVD and didn’t save, then I went to my movies folder and it was there but when I dragged it to the drop area in iMovie it just popped back to the Movies folder, I just wondered If you know what I’m doing wrong.

    I really appreciate your help


  35. Hi, very informative, thank you. I’ve created a slideshow in iPhoto and have inserted still photos, video clips and selected music playing through the slideshow.
    What I can’t get around is how to stop/pause the music while the video clips are playing. Is this possible? I sen to have achieved this with one video clip but it must have been a fluke because i cannot do the same with the others.
    Also, with the text slide is there any flexibility in positioning the text within the slide and with text on more than one line, thank you muchly.

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