We are always excited when we come across a program that
melds the medium of photography to the Internet, opening up new creative
possibilities. It's even better when those programs can create new
marketing and sales opportunities for our clients. Whenever this happens
we'll be sure to write about it and share our finds with you.
This month we'd like to introduce you to the Stardust Screen Saver
Toolkit from StardustSoftware.
Screen savers hark back to the old days, when phosphors on monitors
could actually burn out if a prompt was left unmoving for extended
periods of time. Modern monitors no longer have that problem, and screen
savers are now principally used for their aesthetic value.
Our research was promoted by request from a web site client, (www.LarryRichardson.com)
who wanted to offer his photographic images in a downloadable screen
saver from his site. We checked out a range of programs, and were
impressed by the power and ease of use of Stardust's offering.
Stardust provides wizards to walk you through each step needed to
produce your screen saver. Besides still images, you can also create
screen savers using sound, video and animations. Some of its other
features are random slide shows, scripted presentations, unlockable
"Try & Buy" screen savers, even screen savers that expire.
You may also include introduction sequences, transition effects and
background music. When you are finished with your design it
automatically generates CD, floppy disk, and Internet style setup
programs, making it simple for your clients to install your creation on
Our favorite feature is the ability to actually link displayed images
to a web site. This is accomplished by using a keyboard shortcut, as
touching the mouse will instantly stop the screen saver.
Most popular image file formats are supported, but we've found that
JPEG's offer the flexibility to let the finished screen saver, if it
doesn't contain too many images, fit onto a floppy disk for easy
distribution, or download from a web site in seconds. We produced images
in Photoshop that had an added text layer containing copyright
information, web site URL, and instructions for launching a browser to
see visit the clients web site.
In working with the program, we've discovered that production of a
screen saver can be an art form unto itself. Carefully choosing
sequences, transitions, and effects alters the mood and impact of the
photographs you are presenting. Experimenting with the addition of words
and phrases can be fun, and may be used to good effect from a marketing
The benefits of a program like this are wide ranging. Screen savers
can be a great promotional tool and can provide you with an inexpensive
item to sell. Your presentation can even be a catalogue of images for
sale, showing style number and pricing information displayed either
above or below the image.
We also recommend using it as incentive, or value-add, with
purchases. You might even consider creating screen savers with seasonal
or holiday themes as gifts.
Offering a screen saver to your customers will keep you in their
thoughts and your images right in front of them. It offers the
opportunity to easily distribute samples of your photography and have
them displayed on thousands of monitors.
Many of our photographer friends offer limited time
screensavers to be downloaded from their web sites requiring payment by
their customer for the unlock code. We have even offered free
screensavers with a "nag" screen and on receiving a donation provide the
code to get rid of the unwanted advertising.
sells the program for $199 as a download from its web site, or $249 on a
CD. You can experiment with their full-featured trial version, which
they offer as a free download. Sorry MAC people, it's for PC only.
We highly recommend this software, and feel that it's a program that
can pay for itself in a very short time. In addition, we have created a
few sample screensavers with our own images and have posted them on our
web sites for free download.