December 26, 2006

Idea: A virtual slide projector

Virtual Slide Show
Some of my photos, as they might look with the Virtual Slide Projector. For now, you’ll just have to imagine the sound effects.
As a professional photographer, I’ve occasionally been asked to speak with photography students about commercial photography, and invited to show some of my work. While putting together a digital slide presentation for a talk I gave not long ago, I realized that I missed the sounds of an old slide projector. The laptop and digital projector have completely replaced the carousel and trays of yore, and we no longer have that satisfying click-and-whir of the mechanical projector.

Surely, I thought, someone out there must make slide show software that mimics the look-and-noise of a real slide projector. I would love to have those noises coming from my laptop, leaving people in the back of the room wondering, “He’s not really using an old fashioned slide projector, is he?” But despite my searching I found nothing. I wanted to write such a program before my lecture, but it’s beyond my programming abilities. Heree are the features I imagined it might have, all of which could be disabled or varied from an “Options” menu:

  • A constant low-volume whir, recorded from an actual slide projector.
  • The mechanical noise a projector makes when advancing to the next slide, with a brief blackout in between the images, as though there really were a slide tray progressing to the next slide.
  • Random upside-down, backwards, or blank slides. I don’t think I ever sat through a slide show that didn’t have occasional screw-ups. The “Options” menu should allow you to control the frequency of these screw-ups, or turn them off completely. And after every screwed up slide, there should be a blank slide and then the same slide displayed correctly, as though someone manually fixed it.

It could have a very simple interface. Just let me browse to the directory with my images, and start the show.


A similar idea that may be of interest to you is glterminal, a fairly functional vt100 emulator for OS X. It provides user configurable screen warping, phosphorous persistance, bad voltage regulator flicker and low baud rate (down to 110 baud!) emulation.

What kind of projector are you using?

Don’t forget to show the slide blurry and then click in to focus as the negative warms up.

Don’t forget to show the slide blurry and then click in to focus as the negative warms up.

If you find yourself giving the same slide show repeatedly, I wouldn’t imagine that it would be TOO much trouble to do everything you’re after in PowerPoint (or whatever presentation package you prefer.)

Yes, it could be tedious inserting sounds on each slide, not to mention creating alternate images blurred and/or mirrored in Photoshop, but once completed, it wouldn’t be terribly difficult to add or remove photos from the presentation, either.

Again, it would sort of hinge on whether or not you could recycle the presentation.

It’s very possible using Flash. I’ve already written a slideshow program that one can use any pictures they want in, modifying it with some randomization code wouldn’t be too tricky

I thought this was a fantastic idea as both a photographer and a programmer. I just started work on this project using C++ and SDL for programming and Audacity for sound engineering.

This was done really well on the Venture Bros. Season 2 DVD

I have shown the idea to my tutor, who will be advising me on the project that I need to complete to get my bachelor’s degree. If he will be happy with it I’ll commence with the work. If you are still interested in this software, I’ll contact you to gather the additional requirements, and to test the software. If you moved on with your life, and this is no longer in your interest, I’ll do it for myself :)