How to Create a Dazzling DVD Picture Slideshow

By | August 2, 2008

What’s the best way to share photographs with friends and family? In the old days, we would develop and print all our photos and arrange them neatly into a photo album. Well, in this day and age, no one wants to exert the energy required to lift pages in a photo album. They’d rather press a play button, sit back and enjoy the show in the comfort of their living room!

Yes, I’m talking about putting all your photos onto a DVD. But it won’t be just any DVD. In this tutorial you’ll learn how to add music and special effects to make a DVD worthy of an Oscar nomination! I’m going to show you how to create a picture slide show using Windows Movie Maker in Windows Vista.

Both Windows XP and Windows Vista come with Windows Movie Maker. You can use it to arrange your photographs and create an entertaining presentation with music and effects. The version of Windows Movie Maker that comes with Windows Vista can burn your presentation directly to a DVD. Unfortunately, the version that comes with Windows XP doesn’t include that feature. If you have Windows XP, you can purchase a program with similar capabilities like Roxio or Nero.


Find Windows Movie Maker in the All Programs list and click on it:

Open Windows Movie Maker From The Start Menu

The interface is divided into three main sections:

  • IMPORTED MEDIA: All the pictures and videos you want to include in your presentation will go here.
  • PREVIEW PANE: This is a video player that allows you to preview the presentation as you create and modify it.
  • STORYBOARD: You add pictures here from the “Imported Media” section to build the presentation.

Windows Movie Maker Interface


The next step is to find photos on your computer and add them to the “Imported Media” section. Click on “Pictures” under “Import” on the left side of the window:

Click On Pictures Under "Import"

A window will open which allows you to browse for photos on your computer. Click on the “Pictures” folder or browse to wherever you have stored them on your computer. Select the photos you want to include in the presentation and click the “Import” button. To select more than one picture at a time, hold down the “Ctrl” key as you click them:

Click "Pictures", Select Pictures, And Click On "Import"

Choose the photos you want to add to your slideshow

You’ll notice that after you click “Import”, the pictures are displayed in the “Imported Media” section. However, they aren’t part of the presentation until you drag them onto the Storyboard.


Click and drag the photos onto the Storyboard in the order you want them to be presented in your slide show:

Click And Drag Photos To The Storyboard

***Note: If the pictures show up as a list instead of thumbnails, right-click in an empty space in the “imported media” section and select “Thumbnails”. Also, to see a larger preview of the image, click on it once to see it in the preview pane.

Click the play button in the preview pane to see your presentation so far. By default, each picture will be displayed for five seconds. To change this setting click on “Tools” at the top and select “Options”. Change the “Picture duration” to the number of seconds you want each picture to be displayed:

You can change the default picture duration time from the options window

You can change the default picture duration time from the options window


To add music to the presentation, click on “Audio or Music” under “Import”:

Click On "Audio Or Music" Under "Import"

Add music to your presentation

Browse to your music folder, select the desired song, and click “Import”:

Find A Song And Import It

Find a song that suits your presentation and import it

You have now imported a song to Windows Movie Maker. But, just like the pictures, it is not part of the presentation until you drag it into the Storyboard. Drag the music file onto the Storyboard and make sure the vertical blue bar is in front of the first picture. The vertical blue bar indicates where the music will start:

Drag The Music File To The Storyboard

If you preview your presentation, you should now hear music as the pictures change. Fantastic!

Notice that after you drag the music file to the storyboard, it looks a little different. You are now looking at your presentation in the “Timeline” view. The Timeline view is good for adjusting the amount of time each individual slide takes up.

Timeline View

Timeline View

To switch back to Storyboard view, click on the black down arrow beside “Timeline” and select “Storyboard”.


By default, there’s no transition between the photos you add to the Storyboard. This tends to look bad as the presentation “chops” from one photo to the next. You may want to add transitions such as fades and wipes to make it easier on the eyes. Click on “Transitions” under “Edit” on the left side of the window:

Click "transition" under "Effects"

You’ll see a group of different transitions to choose from. Click and drag the transition to the small box between the two photos you want to add the transition to. A couple of my favorites are “Fade” and “Page Curl”. Play around with them yourself to find out which ones work best for your presentation.

Click and drag the transition into the small box between pictures

Click and drag the transition into the small box between pictures

You can see the transition in action by highlighting the first picture and pressing play in the preview pane.


There may be times where you want to zoom in, zoom out, or add some other effect to a picture. To see a list of available effects, click on “Effects” under “Edit”:

Add special effects to your presentation

Add special effects to your presentation

To apply an effect, click and drag it directly onto a picture. After you add an effect, the star at the bottom left of the picture will become colored.

Click and drag an effect to the picture you want to apply it to

After you’ve finished adding effects, click play in the preview pane to see them in action.


You may want to add additional information to a picture. You can do this by adding a Title.

In the Storyboard, select the picture you want to add a title to. Then click on “Titles and credits” under “Edit”:

Click On "Titles and credits"

Select “Title overlay on the selected clip” in the next window:

Select "Title Overlay On The Selected Clip"

*** Note: You can add a full-screen title to the beginning of your slide show by clicking “Title at the beginning”.

You’ll see a preview of the title in the Preview Pane. You can change the title animation, font, and color by clicking on the links below the text box. Once you’re satisfied with the title in the preview pane, click “Add Title”:

Type In The Title And Click "Add Title"

Now when you preview your presentation, the title should appear on the selected picture. You can return to the Timeline view to adjust when the title appears and the length of time it remains on the slide.


The last step is to burn your presentation to a DVD so that you can show it off to your family and friends. Click the “Publish Movie” button:

Click The "Publish Movie" Button

You can publish your movie in several ways. In this case, we want to copy it to a DVD so select “DVD” and click the “Next” button:

Choose To Publish The Movie To A DVD

Windows will now inform you that it must close Windows Movie Maker and open Windows DVD Maker. Click “OK”. You’ll be asked to save the presentation to your computer if you haven’t done so already.

Windows Movie Maker Will Open Windows DVD Maker

Windows DVD Maker will open. Give your DVD a title, and click “Next”:

Give The DVD A Name And Click Next

Now you can choose from a variety of menu styles for your DVD.

A DVD menu is what’s first shown when you insert your disc into the DVD player. If you’ve ever watched a DVD before you should be familiar with the initial menu where you can choose “Play”, “Scenes”, “Special Feature”, etc. That is what you are creating in this section.

Select a menu style that suits your presentation and click the “Preview” button to see what it will look like:

Click "Preview" To Demo the Menu Style

Click “Preview” To Demo the Menu Style

Once you’re satisfied with the menu, it’s time to burn the DVD! Click the “Burn” button and insert a blank DVD-R into your recorder when prompted. Windows DVD Maker will encode the movie and then write it to the DVD. Once it’s finished, the disc will be ejected and a success message will appear on the screen. You can now insert it into your DVD player to watch it.


Well I hope you’ve found this tutorial useful! There are several other features in Windows Movie Maker that I didn’t cover here, so have fun researching them and fooling around with the program. You can get quite creative with it.

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