Create Screensavers to Show off Your Visuals

25 11 2009

It dawned on me that I forgot to include in the book a terrific use for research images: in screensavers. Not only will a screensaver show off your images and video on your own computers, but your audiences can download it to run on their machines. If you have a Windows computer, you can create a simple screensaver on your own machines  using the Personalize feature. Just right click on the desktop, click on Personalize, choose the Screen Saver option, and choose the Photos option for your screensaver. You can then designate which photos to use.

Of course, this method creates only a basic slide show, and you can’t offer it for download. You can produce more elaborate downloadable screensavers using such commercial software as Screensaver Factory, Screensaver Maker, Screentime, Ultra Screen Saver Maker, or iEasy Screensaver Station. There are many more programs out there. Just do a Google search for “screensaver software” or check out CNet’s screensaver listings to find one that fits your needs.

These software packages enable you to create screensavers using images, video, and Flash animations, and even add interactivity. Some of the more advanced software might be complicated to use, however, so you might want to enlist or dragoon a programmer to produce more elaborate screensavers.

Your screensavers can use not only your own images and videos, but those from other sources, with appropriate permission and credit, of course. For example, an astronomy screensaver could use Hubble telescope images of the objects you study; or a structural engineering screensaver could show examples of the bridges that illustrate the principles behind your work. Think visually!

Even simpler than screensavers are wallpaper images. For example, National Geographic offers a huge collection of its elegant images as wallpaper. Like them, you would have to offer your images in two sizes–800×600 pixels for smaller monitors and 1024×768 pixels for medium-sized monitors. National Geographic also offers larger images of entrants in its photo competition as wallpaper.

When creating your screensavers or wallpaper images, don’t forget your communication “strategy of synergy.” That is, include in the images the URL of your lab or center, as well as other information that could induce your audiences to explore your research.

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