Designing shows for different aspect ratios

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Designing shows for different aspect ratios

Postby Redcrown » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:58 am

The Goal: To design slideshows that will be played on Ipads, smartphones, and computers with different aspect ratios, ranging from 4:3 to 16:9 with a few oddball ratios in between.

The Problem: Proshow pan and zoom controls are all relative to the show's aspect ratio. If you design under a 4:3 aspect ratio and then shift to a 16:9 aspect ratio, all pan and zoom movements change. Any carefully positioned movements are destroyed.

Solution 1: Forget about it. Just design under one aspect ratio and let it play with black "letterbox" bars on whatever device receives it.

Solution 2: Simply don't use motion effects that matter that much. Then change the aspect ratio in Proshow's options before rendering the video. Let the motion effects fall where they may.

Solution 3: Make multiple versions of the show for each aspect ratio desired. Modify the motion effects of each slide to fit.

Solution 3: Design under the widest aspect ratio, 16:9, but take care to insure all motion effects fit within the narrowest aspect ratio, 4:3. Render an AVI video of the 16:9 format, then process that AVI with a 3rd party video editor capable of cropping the output to the aspect ratio of the target device. Example, design in 16:9 so it looks nice on an "HD" size computer monitor or TV, then crop off the sides so that it plays "full frame" on an Ipad.

I'm pursuing solution 3, and it's working fairly well. The only challenge is in making sure all motion effects fit well within the 4:3 aspect ratio. To do that, I've used a "mask" layer.

I made a PNG image in Photoshop in the 16:9 ratio, with a 100% transparent center for the 4:3 center section and 50% transparent "gray" bars on the sides. I put that as the top layer on a slide and it works well. Any movements outside the 4:3 center section can easily be visualized.

But that approach created 2 more problems. How to get the PNG "mask" layer on each slide, and then how to get rid of it before rendering the show to video. To get it into each slide I can create a temporary slide containing only the PNG mask, copy it, and then "past into" other slides. Unfortunately, Proshow Gold won't do a global "past into". You have to paste into each slide one at a time. To get around that, I'm creating custom slide styles from the built in styles that include the PNG mask.

Proshow Gold also lacks the ability to delete a named layer from all slides. So to delete the PNG mask before rendering, you would have to go through each slide one at a time. To get around that, I created two PNG mask images. One has the gray bars and is named "4 to 3 ratio mask". The other is a 100% transparent PNG and is named "All transparent mask".

I make a copy of the "4 to 3 ratio mask" image and rename it to "Aspect ratio mask". That is the image I add to each slide when designing the show. Then, before rendering the show I replace the "Aspect ratio mask" image with the "All transparent mask" image. That effectively wipes out the mask by making the mask layer in each slide a "do nothing" layer.

After rendering, I can "toggle" the "Aspect ratio mask" image back to the "4 to 3 ratio mask" version to continue working on the show.

I would appreciate any feedback on this approach, or suggestions for a better solution. In particular, does Proshow Producer offer any better solutions? I've encountered a number of small challenges in Proshow Gold for which people tell me Producer is the answer. So far, none of them have been $200 problems, but the aggregate may be adding up to that amount.

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Re: Designing shows for different aspect ratios

Postby BarbaraC » Fri Feb 01, 2013 5:27 am

What underlies your problem may be the way ProShow "sees" the screen, which is by percentages. For instance, if you move a bar from -100 (far left) to 100 (far right), it isn't moving a set distance in pixels. Rather, it's moving 200% (-100 to 0 at center to +100). Those percentages cover different amounts of the screen depending on the aspect ratio chosen. It's the same in both Gold and Producer.

I assume that by "mask" you mean a full-screen frame since Gold doesn't have masking capability. However, have you tried using the "Fill Frame" setting for all those things you want to fill the screen no matter what ratio is used? If not, give it a try.

Regardless, trying to design for all aspect ratios by using just one ratio seems more work than designing individually.

Last edited by BarbaraC on Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Designing shows for different aspect ratios

Postby DickK » Fri Feb 01, 2013 6:53 am

BarbaraC wrote:...Regardless, trying to design for all aspect ratios by using just one ratio seems more work than designing individually...

Agree with both your analysis and the conclusion. I haven't made a 4:3 show in quite awhile now. Everyone I would give it to has a wide screen TV now.

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Re: Designing shows for different aspect ratios

Postby debngar » Fri Feb 01, 2013 7:22 am

DickK wrote:
BarbaraC wrote:...Regardless, trying to design for all aspect ratios by using just one ratio seems more work than designing individually...

Agree with both your analysis and the conclusion. I haven't made a 4:3 show in quite awhile now. Everyone I would give it to has a wide screen TV now.


It's been several years since I've bothered designing for 4:3. Anyone still using a 4:3 TV will eventually have to replace it with a widescreen anyways.

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Re: Designing shows for different aspect ratios

Postby im42n8 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:00 am


PSG doesn't know a mask from picture. Generally what you need to do is to design graphics specifically for the aspect of your show. Your Gold "mask" is nothing more than a graphic with a hole cut in it. As such, you'll want to sit down and do the math. Then, create your frame (with the hole that the image will peek through) accordingly.

For instance, a 2:3 portrait set to Fill frame and sized to 30% zoom in a 16:9 show will be 80% of the screen tall and 30% of the screen wide (fill frame normalizes the image to the screen such that the image is sized to stop changing size as soon as the left and right sides are the same as the screens, you may have a small amount of image overflow to the top and bottom, with that amount getting smaller the closer your image gets to 16:9 (or a ratio of 1.778)). As such now, the horizontal is 1:1, percent-wise). In a 4:3 show, it's now 60% tall and 30% wide.

That means you have to design your "mask" graphic accordingly. That hole is going to change size with the change in show aspect (and scaling) no matter what scale you choose and it will only look correct in show aspect for which it was designed.

In Producer, you can create a gradient or solid layer that can act as a mask. You can set it to the aspect desired for your image display. Since both are relatively the same aspect (and same zoom setting), when you change show aspect, they will both change the same (both should be the same scale).

The way you determine your image size in a screen, at least for the fill frame scaling is W=Z, H=Z*F, where W is the layer width, Z is the zoom value and F is the Correction Factor. F is nothing more than a ratio of the screen to the layer. So, F = (Ly*Sx)/(Lx*Sy), where Lx is the layer's horizontal dimension, Ly is the layer's vertical dimension, and Sx and Sy is the shows horizontal and vertical dimension (as in 16 and 9 for 16:9 aspect show). It's the same as: (Sx/Sy)/(Lx/Ly).

Yes, math. But, it removes some of the questions about how to correctly design things for (for placement and/or size). Once you have a working frame of reference, designing your Gold frames is a bit easier. Now, you can work with your normalized percentages for designing the correctly sized hole, as well as their placement in the frame.

Hopefully that helps. You might want to check out my blog as you get more familiar with how ProShow does some of its stuff. Most of it is for Producer but some is appropriate for Gold (for calculating rotation center, for instance...).


PS pan is pan. .. that is 50% of the screen will always be 50% no matter what aspect your show is. So, I'm really not sure what you are telling us when you say that pan and zoom are aspect related. They are not.

However, there is a relationship that you might be interested in. Pan, zoom, and rotation center are related by the following relationship (for Fill Frame scaling): P=R*Z for the horizontal movement and P=R*Z*F, where P is the pan setting, R is the rotation center value, Z is the zoom setting, and F is the correction factor given above. Note that Z is a decimal number in these equations (as a number less than 1). If you use the value you seen in the zoom box then you need to divide Z by 100. So, a 30% zoom is 30/100 = 0.30. Why is this information important. 1) Now you know the relationship between functions. 2) You can calculate what you need to calculate with ease. 3) Only the calculations in the vertical are aspect related … and that's only when the layer's size is different than the show's aspect. Note, this holds ONLY for the scale of Fill Frame. The equations for Fit To Frame are similar, but there are different assumptions to consider. The same goes for Fit to Safe zone (it's a variation of Fit to Frame). Well, that should give you some fodder to work through. ... on-center/
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