Matt's Macs

Slide Shows Then and Now, Part 1

- 2001.10.04 - Tip Jar

Who wants to see the slides?

During the holidays, after enjoying a large meal, the custom at my parents house was for my Dad to get out the portable screen, the projector, and a box full of trays containing hundreds of slides. We would all sit down in the living room and enjoy a slide show. The slides were taken with a standard 35mm SLR camera, and the slides themselves were usually stored in either carousels or boxes.

Today, the "slides" are digital images stored on media (floppy, CD, hard drive, a Web server) that can be shown sequentially using the appropriate software. The result is somewhat the same, yet different. Let's take a look slide images, projectors and displays, analog and digital. By the way, I will use the term analog for images captured on film.

Images. Analog slides, first of all, continue to be used today. The slides are images captured on film placed in the center of a rectangular shaped piece of cardboard or plastic. The slide is generally stored in a tray of some sort (and kept in the closet), whether its round or rectangular. The shape and size of the tray is dictated by the type of projector used. In other words, an image is captured on a physical media - actually grains of silver for the most part - using a camera. While the image can be manipulated to some extent, once committed to film, it cannot be easily altered. Copies of slides can be made, but at a price. In addition, the size and shape of the image cannot be easily altered. The slide is typically stored in a wide array of containers dictated by the type of projector used.

Digital images in some ways are the same, but there are many other differences.

Digital images start out the same as an analog slide. The image is captured on media. At this point, several differences emerge. How images are captured for example. Digital images are captured as ones and zeroes and shown as pixels on a screen, sometimes in real-time. Capturing an image is still done with a camera, but it can also be done with virtually any device that input graphics to a computer: tablets, scanners, video cameras, the computer itself. After an image is captured, it can be copied and altered in ways limited only by the amount of money spent on graphics software and media used to store the images. Regarding storage, again, the limitation is what type of projector are you going to use. The issue is "can my file be displayed via an ethernet, SCSI, FireWire or USB cable, from my hard drive, CD, Zip and or Jaz drive?" The amount of room needed to hold slides is greatly reduced. Further with the right software, files can be easily catalogued, categorized, identified; with the results printed out if so desired.

The term slide means different things in a digital lifestyle. There is some detail here that is covered in depth by many other sources, but the point here is to create a new paradigm for "slides." While certain limitations remain - such as budget, storage media, and time spent altering files either on film or disk - the ability to capture images from many devices, the ease to transform images, and the different types of storage media available greatly expand the meaning of a "slide."

Next: Slide show projectors and screens, on an iMac and a Performa

Want to learn more about digital cameras? Visit Digigraphica.

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