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iScreensaver User Guide, Unabridged

Introduction

Wait? What's a screensaver? Didn't we need those back in the dark ages, when computers were measured by kilobytes, hertz, and single-bit amber screens? Well, it's true that there's not much technical need today for actually saving screens, besides turning them off when not using them. Today's monitors, especially those LCD- and LED-based ones, are pretty resilient from burn-in. Burn-in was an excellent way to destroy a monitor, where the result of static images and user interface elements over many years melted holes through the glass on the primitive cathode-ray tube monitors. Well, OK, not really holes, but the phosphors would never heal and the images would remain even when turned off. The nightmares of electric sheep everywhere.

In the late 1980s, Pyro, a simulated fireworks show, was the most famous of screensavers for machines like the Mac Plus or SE. It was followed by the color Pyro II for the Macintosh II. The release of the Flying Toasters brigades in the early 1990s for Mac, and eventually Windows, made the screensaver engine After Dark, and its publisher Berkeley Systems, and the entire concept of a ''screensaver'', household names. They followed up their success with themed screensaver products for The Simpsons, Looney Tunes, and Star Trek. Screensavers were no longer just utilities, but complete entertainment, or, at the least, fantastic procrastination.

But how does iScreensaver fit into this? Well, as software makers, we had been creating After Dark-related screensavers since 1990, for numerous corporate clients as well as over one hundred colleges and universities around the US. Creating multi-platform software can be difficult, and being able to produce identical software for both Mac and Windows from just a single one of those systems, is rare, almost artisanal in nature. But we hated doubling our production work, so we made multi-platform compatibility our speciality. When Berkeley Systems looked to outsource their entire custom corporate After Dark screensaver business in 1996, they found us.

So, we made custom screensavers for years. And years. And years. And finally, we got tired of making screensavers, so we decided to take our tools that we created to make our screensavers, and create a toolkit so our clients could go make them themselves. Now, we've been doing that for years... (want a copy?)

With iScreensaver, you are blessed with the world's only multi-platform screensaver designing tool kit made by the team with more screensaver experience than any other.

and now it's time to play . . .

Welcome

Your First Screensaver

If you haven't made a screensaver before, fantastic, it's about time for making your first screensaver. You'll want to ponder a few things first:

We'll walk you through the steps needed to create your first screensaver project, and show you examples along the way. By the end, you should be an expert, and if not, well, refer back here again, like we do - after all, in the immortal words of the unparalleled Lisa Brenneis, author of Peachpit Press' impeccable Visual QuickPro Guides for Final Cut Studio: ''you don't think I actually remember all these tips, do you? That's why I put them here -- [rapping her knuckles on her cover] -- I use the book too!''

Pondering the Abstract

Let's take a moment before delving into technicalities - breathe.

Your Audience

Who sees it? Where is it to be displayed? Will it be seen in offices or in homes? ...in public or private spaces? Does it need to be age-specific? ...have a local or international flavor? Is it for friends and family, commercial clients, or bosses and corporate clients? Will people have paid to use it, or is it free for anyone?

Your Content

What's in it? Can you describe the first experience you want your user to see? ...to hear? Are you creating a one-time dazzling splash, or a subtly changing permanent addition to the desktop? Is this a single project, or are you wanting to be providing upgrades and sequels? Mixing a dadaesque shuffling of imagery, or building structured storytelling? Interactive flash movies or slideshow pictures of Junior's summer camp?

Your System

Does your machine fit within the System Requirements? Might you want to closely match the computer specs that your users will be using? Want some (secret) production hints? --- "Buying a few other production applications will make your life easier"; "throwing money at a computer problem usually makes it go away"; and "it's great to have a fast machine for authoring anything", including screensavers. But don't worry, we have tips to keep iScreensaver the only software purchase you'll need to make.

Your Abilities

That's the easy part: Follow directions.

Visiting for the First Time?

Here is a quick overview of some of the major sections of the application, and of a few ways to use menus and commands to access the features.

Using the Application

When iScreensaver first opens, you'll be presented with a Projects List window (A), where you can create a new screensaver or open a sample one. Upon opening a project, a Project window (B) will appear, with Video and Audio sections wherein you can drag-and-drop media files, to import the files into the sequence. A Preview stage (C) and an Info palette (D) can both be opened to edit the per-sequence and per-item settings. Use the "Run Full Screen" command from the Preview menu to test your screensaver. Once you are happy with the sequencing, you'll want to build the screensaver Installer. Customize the screensaver installer on the Control Panel and Installer Tabs. Then use the Share Tab to create your Mac and Windows screensaver installers.


Overview of Application Windows

A: The Projects List window: Open a recent project, or start a new one.
B: The Project window: Edit your screensaver sequences and customize the software.
C: The Preview stage: View your screensaver as you edit.
D: The Info palette: Edit per-sequence and per-item settings.

Many of our User Manuals' images are Mac-based, but Windows works the exact same way, unless noted.

Menus, shortcuts, and commands

In iScreensaver, we've built in many ways to call the same actions, since many authors use the program in different ways. Some always use the menubars, some like two-button mice, some prefer to use keyboard shortcuts. You'll find many of the same functions in menus, context-sensitive pop-ups, and keyboard commands.

Menus

Along the top of the screen are pull-down Menus containing links to most all features available in iScreensaver.

Sample Menubar

Shortcuts

When working in the Thumbnail viewer of the Sequence window, right-clicking the mouse, or holding down the keyboard control-key and clicking the mouse, will pop up contextual menus with links to many specific features to that item.

Sample Contextual Menu

Commands

Holding the keyboard's control, shift, or command keys with the corresponding alphanumeric keys will also link to specific features.

Sample Keyboard Commands

Help

For more information and support, please visit our website Forums.
We also offer a full-sized printout of this manual in PDF format.

What's New in Version 5?

Modern OS Support

Designed and tested for the latest Operating Systems:
Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite), 10.11 (El Capitan), and Windows 10.

Video without QuickTime or Flash

Screensavers can be created that play modern HTML5/MP4 video files without any plugins. No more requiring end-users to have the QuickTime or Adobe Flash plugins installed.

Advanced Video / Flash Playback Engine

Include dissolves and cross-fade effects between videos and videos, videos and flash, and flash-to-flash transitions. No more abrupt ''jump cuts.''

Gatekeeper and Authenticode Support

Screensaver authors can now digitally sign their screensaver installers, so end users no longer have the ''unidentified developer'' warnings.
[Note: requires third party tools and purchases not supported by iScreensaver.com]

Retina Support

Fully supports high-resolution 'high DPI' monitors (Mac OS X only).

4K UHD Support

OpenGL engine supports up to 4K textures - 4096x4096 - with optional texture compression. View photos and images in perfect Ultra-High-Definition quality.

Multi-Monitor Support

Screensavers can now play on all monitors on Windows PCs, with monitor selection.

Multi-Core CPU Support

Use of modern multi-core CPUs for better playback performance when available.

Far-reaching Backward Capability

Our 'Site' licenses include registration for
iScreensaver 4, which creates similar screensavers for systems ranging
from Mac OS 10.4 to 10.9, and Windows XP to 8.
[Note: older hardware may be required.]

Yeah, but what else?

Moved our Mac core from Carbon to Cocoa,
squashed over 800 bugs involving old Operating Systems,
started a 30-day money-back guarantee...

So, what's new in version 5? Everything, and everything's even better.

Exploring the Application

The Projects List window

Upon launching iScreensaver, the Projects List window will appear and all recent projects will be listed. You can sort the listing by Name or Date Last Modified. Double-click, or select one or more and choose Open, to open an existing project. This window can be disabled within preferences.

The Projects List window

A project window

When a project is created, it opens with a helpful naming wizard. There is a separate project window for each project created, and multiple projects can be open at one time. On the upper left of each project window, there are six icons that, when followed from left to right, will guide you through all the steps taken to create a screensaver. On the upper right are several icons that open various assistant palettes and windows to help you design your screensaver.

A new empty project
Your Steps to Making Screensavers
The pathway to screensaver creation

The Video tab: Import, arrange, and edit image media.
The Audio tab: Import and arrange aural media.
The Locking options: Allow people to see different content within one screensaver.
The User Controls panel: Edit and internationalize user controls and settings.
The Installer settings: Edit how the user is introduced to your screensaver.
The Share tab: Create your screensaver for all supported platforms.

Your Steps to Making Locking Screensavers

Optional license levels allow for alternate content located within the screensaver installers. Two separate sequences are then available - using all, some, or completely different, media assets. Assets used in both sequences are only saved a single time to your user's hard drives.

How to turn on locking

Turn on locking features, which changes the toolbar, adding sequences.

The pathway to locked screensaver creation

The Sequence 1 Video tab: Import, arrange, and edit primary image media.
The Sequence 1 Audio tab: Import and arrange primary aural media.
The Locking options: Allow people to see different content within one screensaver.
The Sequence 2 Video tab: Import, arrange, and edit alternate image media.
The Sequence 2 Audio tab: Import and arrange alternate aural media.
The User Controls panel: Edit and internationalize user controls and settings.
The Installer settings: Edit how the user is introduced to your screensaver.
The Share tab: Create your screensaver for all supported platforms.

Your Assistants
Helpful design palettes

The Preview stage: Review exactly how your users will see your screensaver.
The Info palette: Adjust and edit various options for all media items.

The Video tab

You can drag and drop slides, movies, and flash files into the Video project window. Easily position, arrange, and edit media in either Thumbnail or List view.

View as Thumbnails

Thumbnail View allows easy arranging of items into a sequence order. Media is played from left to right, top to bottom, unless in shuffle mode. Non-contiguous items can be selected and have options set by using the Info palette.

The Video sequence, thumbnail view

View as Lists

Sometimes its helpful to work with a sequence in column format, particularly when you can resize and re-order the columns. List View allows easy comparisons between all sequence item media. Some information, like Captions, Titles, and Descriptions, can be edited directly in List View.

The Video sequence, list view

Types of Assets

The Audio tab

Multiple soundtracks can be built into a screensaver by dragging files into the Audio project window. Adjustable options include volume control, looping, and shuffle.

The Audio sequence

The Preview stage

View and review changes in real-time when using the Preview stage. Mimic your user machines' screens by instantly resizing the stage, and, on Macintosh, test a wide selection of very specific screen resolutions.

The Preview stage

The Info palette

All of the sequence item media's settings are found in the Info palette. Options can be simultaneously set for multiple selected items. Options include Shuffle, Duration, Interactive Behaviors, Transition Effects, Captions, Picture Overlays, and Compression settings.

The Info palette

The Color palettes

A special color picking palette, used in various places. Choose from the color range, or enter specific HSL or RGB values. Noteworthy is the Opacity value for changing alpha transparency levels from 0 to 255. Within the box with the diagonal break, the upper half shows the base color, while the lower half shows the effect of opacity on the base color.

The Mac Colors palette The Windows Colors palette

Media Management

The Add Items browser

An alternate way to import assets, besides drag-and-dropping files, is to use the built-in file browsers that are standard within all operating platforms. To access the file browser, click the "+" button on the Project window. On Macintosh, you can even choose from all assets system-wide by types of media formats.

The Open browser

Other media management tools

Apple Photos

Some Meta Data from Photos, such as Image Descriptions and Titles, can be imported with the assets. These can be used as variables for Text Captions.

Apple iTunes

Meta Data from iTunes, such as Artist and Song Titles, can be imported with the songs.

Microsoft Windows Media Player

The basic standard media player under Windows.

Creating Installers

The final three icons on the Project window: Controls, Installer, and Share, allow platform-independent what-you-see-is-what-you-get management of the control panels and installers, including splash screens, icons, and about-text information.

The User Controls panel

The Controls establish the look of the installed screensaver within the System Preferences or Control Panels' personalization. After the end user has installed your screensaver, this is what they will see when they click 'Settings...' in the OS. Change art, information, and weblinks to your site here.

The User Controls panel

The Installer dialog

The Installer creates the look of the actual installer for the screensaver, including initial license text and splash art.

The Installer dialog

The Share settings

The Share tabs sets the large icons, filenames, and optional desktop wallpapers for all available platforms, as well as creating the installers for each.

The Share settings

Third party tools

There are a few external tools that will make your life creating screensavers marginally easier.

Production tools

These are commerical products in which we have no economic connection, however they have saved lives in a production pinch.

Adobe Flash

If you are authoring Flash screensavers, this is the only game in town for creating good quality cross-platform Flash files.

Adobe Photoshop

The gold standard of image manipulation software. But if you want free, make sure to check out the open source GIMP application.

Final Cut Pro X

Apple's professional video editing suite. If you are authoring movie screensavers on the Mac, we highly recommend this package.

iMovie

Apple's consumer video editing suite. If you are authoring movie screensavers on the Mac, we highly recommend this package.

Encoding tools

Many tools claim to do encoding, but these are the ones we use.

Apple QuickTime

Helpful for iScreensaver authoring under Windows and Macintosh, this free toolset of QuickTime covers all the basic multiplatform file formats. It is not necessary to upgrade to the commercial QuickTime Pro, but some of its advanced features are very helpful. The basic QuickTime Player's Export feature will create cross-platform h.264 movie files.

Flip4Mac

The free cross-transfer plug-in for reading Windows Media files and older AVI movie files under Mac OS X. Check for recent software updates first, but if you are using these types of files when building on the Mac, by all means, use this plug-in. May not be supported on newer OSes and machines.

Microsoft Windows Media Player

The basic standard media player under Windows. Also free.

Perian

A shareware army knife of file format decoders on the Mac, usually solves any mystery movie file. May not be supported on newer OSes and machines.

Purchasing & Registering Licenses

For more about pricing, see our web store (a secure store with Stripe) for up-to-date licensing information. All features are available for product testing at any license level, however unregistered screensavers will contain "Created With iScreensaver" watermarks during playback. A non-customizable, non-editable link for software copyright terms remains within the Control Panel.

Unregistered Watermarks

When using iScreensaver before purchasing a license, the "Created with iScreensaver" watermark will appear. There is no difference in screensaver playback when the watermarking is active. These watermarks allow you, our potential customers, to try every feature before purchase, especially if authoring complex Flash media projects.

Examples of iScreensaver watermarking within icons and playback: Watermarked Icon
Watermarked Asset

Watermark Locations

Nonsubtle tags will appear on icons, splash screens, and in corners during playback of screensavers. They do not interfere with any assets during normal screensaver operation, other than appearing on-screen.

Unregistered Trial License

Pro License

Ultimate License

Site License


During screensaver builds, the program will alert you if you are using any features which you are not licensed. See the 'Build Details' list immediately after building for all Build Warnings. Use the Locking checkbox to turn off the inclusion of this content for the distributed release.

Without an Ultimate license, the locked content will work normally, including features such as custom key codes or automatic switching, however the Watermark will be active during the Locked playback. Upgrades between levels are available.

Removing watermarks?

Purchase a registration license, rebuild, and distribute your final screensaver installers.

Downloading and Installing iScreensaver

Simple to try.

iScreensaver is always available for download from our website at http://iScreensaver.com. Once installed, all the screensaver functions are completely useable, even if the software has not yet been purchased or registered. However, screensavers created with unpaid and unregistered versions of iScreensaver are watermarked, as described above. Visit our store anytime to upgrade your license of iScreensaver and remove watermarks from your screensaver projects.

To install iScreensaver:

  1. Visit our download page at http://iscreensaver.com/downloads.shtml and choose your operating platform.
  2. Run the iScreensaver Installer; then follow the on-screen instructions.
  3. Read the (all-important) licensing agreements and select an install location. To give access to all users of the machine, save iScreensaver to your Applications folder. If you wish to restrict use to a single user, then save to a location within your User's folder.

Tips:

System Requirements

Macintosh

For Screensaver operation:

For Authoring Screensavers with iScreensaver Designer:


Important: We strive for maximum compatability, but can not guarantee operation on any particular system. Please use our free download to make sure the software meets your needs before you purchase.

Windows

For Screensaver operation:

For Authoring Screensavers with iScreensaver Designer:


Important: We strive for maximum compatability, but can not guarantee operation on any particular system. Please use our free download to make sure the software meets your needs before you purchase.

Upgrading from iScreensaver Designer 3 or 4

There have been numerous file format changes since version 3, and even further changes since version 4.

If you open an older project in version 5, iScreensaver will transfer the old project to a new project file and add a version number to the new name. The new version will do its best to open and correctly arrange an older project, however make sure to re-visit each of your items and settings to verify their new status.

If you wish to continue to use your older projects for older platforms, we recommend that you do not save over them with the same name.

iScreensaver Designer 3 and 4 will require older hardware with their older operating systems than iScreensaver Designer 5.

Protocol:
The Authoring system versus The End User systems

The Authoring System: The computer on which you, as the author of a screensaver, design and assemble your screensaver using iScreensaver Designer.

The End User System: The computers used by your intended audience to view the screensavers you create.

The technical specifications for authoring systems are stronger than the technical specifications for the end users' system.

Differences within Platforms

Any direct comparison between the Macintosh and Windows versions of iScreensaver will reveal slight differences, including system fonts, text leading and kerning, captions, large icons, timing, and various versions of external plugins. Such variations are unavoidable in cross-platform software, however, we have made every attempt to minimize these differences and unify the user experience.

Using iScreensaver, you can design and assemble screensavers on Macintosh, and then run the resulting screensavers on Windows systems - and vice-versa. However, we encourage you to test the screensavers you design on as many actual machines as possible before distributing your screensaver to your end users. Variations are more than possible.

System Fonts

Your available font choices are dependent upon your authoring system's fonts. Non-standard system font settings and sizes are possible on the end user's machines.

Leading and Kerning

The system fonts display slightly differently on the different platforms. While we've attempted to approximate within iScreensaver, we recommend reviewing the final installers on each platform.

Captions

All text overlays will be converted to artwork during the build process, so what is seen on the authoring system is exactly what is seen on the end user's machine, no matter the platform. No fonts are included within the installers, and any fonts used within captions do not need to be present in your end user's machines.

Icons

You can import artwork as large as 512x512 pixels for use as icons, on Macintosh. However, Windows icons are limited to 256x256 pixels as their largest size with the self-extracting EXE installer limited to 48x48 pixels, and can only save 128x128 pixel sizes for its Mac Screensavers. iScreensaver will automatically size down your full artwork to the appropriate and largest size it can, on whichever platform authored.

Timing

Different memory, different processors, different hardware specifications, different software extensions - all these factors can slightly vary durations and timings both amongst similar computer models and between the differing platforms.

Please note that it is generally not possible to synchronize a video presentation closely with an audio track within iScreensaver. If audio+video syncing is important for your presentation, it is advisable to use third-party software (e.g. - Apple's Quicktime Pro, Final Cut Pro, or other third-party solution) to create a movie file with synced audio (although this may dramatically increase file sizes).

Be broad in your estimates, and forgiving in your timelines.

Compressed Installers

Both the finished Macintosh .zip file and the Windows .exe file, both created on either platform, are simple-to-decompress, single-file single-click steps for your end user.

External plugins

Inevitably, there could be some differences in multi-platform versions of Flash, QuickTime, or other third-party software, as well as with OpenGL video drivers. Those differences may be major, minor, or not problematic at all. Make sure to check with their websites for up-to-date information about their products.

Optimizing Performance

Many factors can interrupt a smooth flowing authoring system. Here are a few random guesses we can make and opinions we can offer.

Troubleshooting the Installation

There's usually nothing better for the installation blues than a complete system restart with a fresh download and reinstallation of the software.

See Appendix B: Troubleshooting, for more information and second-guessing.

Uninstalling iScreensaver

It is just as simple to remove iScreensaver from your drive as it was to install, in case you were not satisfied with it, or perhaps, sad about keeping it. We don't mind.

To uninstall iScreensaver Designer:

Windows:

  1. Open the Remove Programs' control panel.
  2. Select iScreensaver Designer from the list.
  3. Select 'Uninstall' at the top of the control panel.

Mac OS X:

  1. Open your Applications folder, or the location where you saved iScreensaver, and find the application.
  2. Drag iScreensaver Designer to the trash can.
  3. Empty the trash.

Uninstalling Screensavers

We have two ways - easy and hard. But both are pretty simple.

To remove a screensaver the easy way (automatically):

Windows:

  1. Using the right mouse button, click the desktop. From the popup menu, choose "Personalization" or "Properties".
  2. Click the "Screen Saver" tab.
  3. Click the "Settings..." button.
  4. Click the "Uninstall..." button.
  5. Follow the instructions for "Remove Programs" within Windows.

Mac OS X:

  1. From the Apple menu (at the top left of your screen) choose "System Preferences".
  2. Select "Desktop & Screen Saver" (10.3 and higher), "Display Effects" (10.2) or "Screen Saver" (10.1).
  3. Click the "Options" button.
  4. Click the "Uninstall..." button.

To remove a screensaver the hard way (manually):

Please visit: Manually Uninstalling iScreensavers.

To remove screensavers made with previous versions of iScreensaver:

For screensavers made with iScreensaver Designer 3.5 or earlier, please visit our legacy support pages for further instructions.

Designing and Preparing

Designing your Screensaver

Some projects call out for storyboards, some can be sketched on a napkin, and some just created by playing with iScreensaver. What assets do you have? Pictures, videos, flash, audio files, and even texts can be incorporated into a screensaver. Are you trying to tell a story? Entertain parents with vacation pictures? Import an overhead-projector presentation? Run randomly shuffled videos forever? Animate multi-touch interactively interconnected sprites to publish from remote RSS feeders? Sure, but you'll definitely need Flash programming experience for that last one...

There are a lot of options to consider. If you are the author as well as designer, it might be easiest to just put all your assets in iScreensaver and play around. If you are working with specialists in image preparation or Flash scripting, then you might want to put more pre-production preparation and pre-visualization storyboarding into your initial planning stages.

Take care in designing for specific timelines and screen proportions. If exact timelines are needed, create the assets as cross-platform h.264 movies or Flash projects for playback in iScreensaver. (Please note that Adobe cautions against using Flash for long movies where accuracy is required.) Because of the multitude of display options, it's possible that users' computers will playback screensavers at slightly different rates and proportional ratios. iScreensaver has many preview tools to minimize screen differences during production, but even magic has limits.

Designeergineering 101:

To spur on your magic, we suggest trying concepts like drawings, diagrams, storyboards, bounding boards, or just winging it and playing with the software.

Write up or draw out flowcharts.

For example: play image assets one through twelve, run sizzle movie, then randomly shuffle assets thirteen through nine hundred ninety until eventually 'asset one through twelve and the sizzle movie' cycles through again. Always start the screensaver with the first item. (Production hint: the first twelve images are compiled with the sizzle into a single movie during pre-production.)
Flowchart

For example: play flash movie one, which has a slideshow within it, then shuffle through three dozen other interactive flash movies, without end.

Flowchart

For example: play pictures and movies from reccent Guadalajara trip, in chronological order with captions already added in iPhoto. Play audio from a iTunes internet radio station. Always start the screensaver where it last left off.

Flowchart

Diagram road maps.

For example: a complete overview to all sections of the project, including movies, interactive Flash detours, and production notes.

Road map

Prepare storyboards.

For example: breakdown a complete sequence, asset by asset.

Storyboard


Storyboard

Create technical bounding boards.

For example: show examples of image-to-screen ratio placements, and percentage-based locations of text and picture overlays, for describing to artists and authors.

4:3 Ratio 16:10 Ratio

Throw caution to the winds.

We're going to cover this in-depth in a later chapter, but for the adventurous or playful or those bored already, here's the basics: drag-n-drop your asset files into a new project. Drag them around to re-order them. Use the Info palette and Preview window to test options. Create your installer with the Build controls. Install, and wait for sleep.

Types of Screensavers

Slideshows

Consisting of dozens to tens-of-thousands of still images, played in consecutive or random order. Options include text and picture overlays (like filenames, descriptions, or corporation logos), various types of 2D and 3D transitions, and automatic image sizing and compression.

Slideshows with Audio Tracks

Slideshows with multiple audio tracks, played in linear or random order. Tracks can be any length, and MP3 or other AAC/Flash formats. Options include Automatic Ducking, individualized Volumes, and Loop Behaviors.

H.264 Cross-platform movies

Many movies can be played within a screensaver, with the exception of certain older legacy encoders that have been discontinued by Apple or that are not supported in the current release. We recommend using the H.264 format when designing movies for most modern operating systems.

Flash movies

Any Flash movie can be played, though some ActionScripts may need to be specifically written with screensaving in mind. Some Flash movies are interactive, and interactive screen cursors can be enabled for those assets. If you choose to include Flash content, iScreensaver can be configured to check your end users' system during screensaver installation and, if needed, offer to upgrade or download Flash. We have some helpful hints and tips in creating Flash files for screensaver use.

Combining all types of media

All file formats can be played within the same screensaver sequence.

Planning your Screensaver Media

Our Best Advice: Use those storyboards mentioned earlier.

What size monitor do you think your end user will have? By this, we ask - how many pixels and in what ratio? These days, it's difficult to predict. As an example of a few monitor sizes that our labs go through in just a few weeks, and this is before we added our 4K UHD monitors:

Various Monitor Proportions
Assets can be configured to display at their actual size, or to be automatically proportioned to the user's monitor via letterboxing, cropping, or filling the screen. On Macintosh, the Preview stage can be adjusted to mimic specific aspect ratios and resolutions of many different screen configurations .

Preview options

Tips:

Optimizing your Media Production

Optimized production techniques take experience, which doesn't always present itself easily during your first project. Don't worry, you'll find shortcuts and tricks soon.

If designing a simple screensaver, you can use simple tools. In fact, Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows both come with bare-bones imaging and video editing software that compliment iScreensaver.

But if you are designing a complex screensaver, you might need a more robust toolkit. Adobe Photoshop is almost indispensable for graphic production, any Flash movies will need Adobe's Flash suite for programming, complex motion visuals might require Apple's Final Cut Pro X or Motion, and strange production pathways where you are importing multiple asset deliverables from mutliple artists without a standard format might mean your authoring computer have third party drivers to ensure complete multi-platform compatibility.

Tips:

Creating Directories and Virtual Directories

Typically, we like keeping everything together for a single project. This requires using the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer to create a few asset directory folders in a folder where we shall save our upcoming project. When building the installers, they are saved in a folder next to the project file, so it makes sense to keep all in one folder.

Folder Example

However, iScreensaver can use assets from anywhere on your local drive. If you want to use virtual links, in case files are moved, or if a project will be moved between authors, then place an alias or shortcut of each asset in a folder with the upcoming project. Then the entire folder structure can be compressed and sent.

Compress Example

Preferences

Like most programs, the Preferences sets global settings and other options that couldn't be hidden anywhere else. These other options include registering software, switching debugging settings, and checking for newer updates.

Using the Preferences controls

To open the preferences:

  1. Do one of the following:
    - Select Preferences... from the iScreensaver Designer menu.
    - On Macintosh, type Command-, (comma).
    - On Windows, type Control-, (comma).
  2. - With an unregistered copy of iScreensaver Designer, on the Projects window, click the 'Register' button.
  3. The Preferences controls will open.

Preferences

Set global settings.

Preferences: Preferences

Application Startup

Set up how you wish to start up iScreensaver either with no project open, a new project, or the previously used project. Uncheck to stop opening the Project List window upon startup, though it will still be available from the menu bar.

New Project

Upon a new project, the wizard autofills your screensaver name into many places, including the project name, the control panels, the locking dialogs, the installers, and the screensaver filenames. While you can skip the wizard, unchecking this preference will permanently stop it.

Metadata Sharing

Automatically import titles, descriptions, album names, and other information that has been saved within the authoring system's Music and Photos libraries.

Palette Windows

Change how the Info Palette appears when switching applications.

Disk Cache Settings

If you have limited hard drive space on the authoring system, these controls might need to be adjusted.

Saved Preferences

Reset the Project List window, all of the window positions, and uncheck any checked "Don't Show Again" warnings.

Defaults

Switch between Thumbnails and List view, or selection and order of columns listed.

Preferences: Defaults

Registration

Enter and view your registration code.

Proxy Server Settings

In most cases, using automatic proxy settings will suffice to register Designer for the first time. In case of firewalls and IT professionals, use the manual settings with a IPv4 or IPv6 Proxy and Port addresses. These settings can be turned off.

Preferences: Registration

Registration Dialog

Copy and paste your Registered Name and Registration Code. This information will be emailed after payment processing.

Preferences: Registration

Update

Check for software updates, or view our Privacy Policy.

Preferences: Update


Debug

In case of strange behavior that we haven't encountered, we've included a space to gather technical information, or to purge the system of older temporary media. We hope your need of these is non-existant.

Preferences: Debug

Clear all Cached files

Removes all thumbnails and compressed items from the authoring machine. New thumbnails will be generated when the project is next used, and compressed items upon the next build. It lists how many files and how much space can be opened by clearing these files. This action cannot be undone.

Debug Log Window

Opens the debugging window, where many iScreensaver actions are logged.

Crash Logs Folder

Opens the folder containing any Crash Logs, in case data needs to be sent for tracking and correcting an error.

Managing Projects

You can create virtually unlimited numbers of screensaver projects and have them open and available simultaneously, however, there is less strain on system resources to have fewer open at a time. The Projects List window has a list of your most recent projects.

Using the Projects List window

It is the first dialog encountered when starting iScreensaver, so hopefully, the Projects List window will become welcomed as a treasured friend. In the beginning, there are just some sample projects listed that we created for you, but eventually those will be elbowed out by your wonderful works. If it turns out to not be welcomed as a treasured friend, its use can be terminated from within the Preferences.

The Projects window

The Projects list

List of the most recent projects, which can be ordered by Name, Date Modified, or Path to the Project on the drive.

The ? button

Quick jump to the online Help and Support documents.

The Register button

Quick jump to preferences and registration, but will disappear once registered.

The New button

Create a new screensaver project.

The Open button

Will either open an existing, selected screensaver project, or if no project is currently selected, then a standard File Browser dialog will present itself.

Tips:

Creating a New Project

To start a new screensaver project:

A new project window will open.

Creating a New Project

Choose New from the File menu.

Naming a New Project

When you create a new project, you'll be asked for a name. This name will be used in various places; the project name, the control panel title, the locking dialogs, the installers, and the screensaver and installer filenames. You can also skip this step, or turn this feature off from within the Preferences. You can always edit these text strings later.

To create and name a new screensaver project:

  1. Do one of the following:
    - Click the 'New' button.
    - Select New from the File menu.
    - On Macintosh, type Command-N.
    - On Windows, type Control-N.
  2. A new project window will open, and the wizard will ask for your new screensaver name.
  3. Enter a name, and click the OK button.
Naming a New Project

Choose Skip to not auto-fill any names.


So, What Does The Wizard Do Exactly?

The wizard places your 'name' in the following locations, using 'Space':

Naming a New Project

Tips:

Opening an Existing Project

Saved projects will show in the Projects List window.

To open a screensaver project:

  1. If the desired project is in the Projects List, select the file.
  2. If the project is not in the Projects List, select nothing, and after you perform one of the following steps, a File Browser will appear allowing you to choose a project from your computer.
  3. Do one of the following:
    - Double-click the file name.
    - Click the Open button.
    - Select Open from the File menu.
    - On Macintosh, type Command-O.
    - On Windows, type Control-O.
  4. If you had selected nothing, then use the File Browser to find your desired project and click the Open button.

The project window will open.

Opening an Existing Project

Double-click the selected file name from the Projects List window.

Tips:

Saving the current Project

Always save your work.
Always, always save your work.
Always, always, always save your work.
We mean it. It's good to learn the command keys for saving your projects.
Use them often.

To save a screensaver project:

  1. At any time, do one of the following:
    - Select Save from the file menu.
    - On Macintosh, type Command-S.
    - On Windows, type Control-S.
  2. If you already saved the file once, then it will save it again with the same name, and you are awesome. ASIM-O.
  3. If it's the first time to save the project, enter a name for your project, select a location, and click the Save button. The default location is a folder in your Documents called iScreensaver Projects.
Saving a Project

Choose Save from the File menu.

Saving a Project

Name the New Project. The default location is iScreensaver Projects.

To save a copy of a screensaver project with a different name:

  1. At any time, do one of the following:
    - Select Save As... from the file menu.
    - On Macintosh, type Shift-Command-S.
    - On Windows, type Shift-Control-S.
  2. Enter the new name for your new copy of your project, select a location, and click the Save button.
Resaving a Project

Choose Save As... from the File menu. Notice the ease of creating New Folders.

Duplicating a Project file

There are many times when you will wish you had a template or default screensaver project or a way to create multiple draft versions for clients, and here's how: once you have your sample project finished and saved, use the Duplicate feature to make your newest next creation.

To duplicate a screensaver project:

  1. In the Projects List window, choose your original project.
  2. Do one of the following:
    - Select Duplicate from the Edit menu.
    - On Macintosh, type Command-D.
    - On Windows, type Control-D.
  3. Enter the new name for your duplicate project, select a location, and click the Save button.
Duplicating an Existing Project

Choose Duplicate from the Edit menu.

Tip:

Renaming a Project file

There are so many reasons a screensaver project might need to have its saved project name changed halfway through production (not that we recommend it). But in case you needed, we've built that in, so just use the Rename feature from the Projects List window.

To rename a screensaver project:

  1. In the Projects List window, choose your original project.
  2. Do one of the following:
    - Select Rename from the file menu.
    - On Macintosh, type Option-Command-R.
    - On Windows, type Alt-Control-R.
  3. Enter the new name for your project, and click the OK button.
Renaming a Project

Choose Rename from the File menu.

Tip:

Revealing a Project file

Sometimes you just need to find the actual file on your hard drive.

To find a screensaver project:

  1. In the Projects List window, choose your project.
  2. Do one of the following:
    - Select Reveal from the file menu.
    - On Macintosh, type Command-R.
    - On Windows, type Control-R.

The file will be shown in the Finder, or Explorer, windows.

Revealing a Project

Choose Reveal from the File menu.

Assembling archives

By placing all included assets together in one folder, it becomes simpler to package together one project for archiving, once complete. Subfolders, such as for audio, overlay art, or video, also help separate the elements for future project revivals.

The Controls tab

Place all project assets together in a simple folder structure.

Moving projects between authors

Once all the included assets are placed together in one folder, it becomes simpler to compress, or zip, the entire folder structure for moving between workstations. Upon first opening, the second workstation may need to be directed to where the file copies have been placed.

The Controls tab

Control-click the mouse to compress the top folder.

Creating project templates

Once a project has been created in a manner in which it can serve as a template for a single client, a series of projects, or corporate identity, there are built-in ways within the operating systems to protect these new defaults.

To protect a project template:

  1. Close your project.
  2. In the Projects List window, choose your project.
  3. On Macintosh, do one of the following:
    - Select Reveal from the File menu.
    - Type Shift-Command-R.
  4. On Windows, do one of the following:
    - Select Reveal from the File menu.
    - Type Shift-Control-R.
  5. The file will be shown within the desktop.
  6. From the desktop, select the .ISC file.
  7. On Macintosh, do one of the following:
    - Select Get Info from the File menu.
    - Type Command-I.
  8. On Macintosh, select Stationery Pad within General Information.
  9. On Macintosh, close the Info window.
  10. On Windows, select Properties from the right-click contextual menu.
  11. On Windows, select Read Only within General Information.
  12. On Windows, close the Properties window.

Resulting Open Project requests will only open copies of the original file.

To edit a project template:

  1. Close the project.
  2. Return to the desktop's Get Info or Properties window.
  3. Unselect Stationery Pad or Read Only.
  4. Close the window.
The Get Info window

Protect a template as a Stationery Pad.

The Properties window

Protect a template as Read Only.

Tip:

Importing Media

Use the Video and Audio tabs to import your media assets in your project sequences. There are a variety of simple ways to move the files into the project, and once there, there are plenty of resequencing options and editable settings. Edit changes made within iScreensaver do not affect the asset files on disk.

Using the Video tab

For most screensavers, this is where the magic happens. Anything appearing on-screen in iScreensaver is considered a 'video asset' whether movie file, Flash (SWF) file, or still image. Just about any graphical file format that QuickTime will read can be imported, if installed.

The Video tab

The Sequence area

All video items are shown, in linear order (from left to right, top to bottom).

The Thumbnail / List toggle buttons

Switch between a graphical Thumbnail View or detailed List View of all video items.

The Zoom slider

In Thumbnail view, adjusts thumbnail size. In List view, adjusts the height of each row.

The Selection Information section

Details the number of assets selected. Also shows progress information when importing large numbers of assets.

The Delete button

Remove selected sequence items from the project.

The Add button

Allows use of the Open browser to import files.

The List View columns

Detailed information about all video items in the project.

Reordering List View

Control-click in the List View column name area to re-arrange columns.

Tips:

Importing Video assets

You can import a single file, multiple files, or even a folder. When importing a folder, all sub-folders will be included. Files will only be imported if they are the proper video format. Use software such as Apple's QuickTime Player to prepare movies in the HTML5 cross-platform H.264 compression format. Any H.264 movies, Flash (SWF), and image files can be imported at the same time.

To import video assets:

The assets will be automatically added as new items in the Sequence area.

Tips:

Deleting Video Items

Sometimes an asset just doesn't work out.

To delete video item(s):

  1. In the Video tab, select any items(s) to be deleted.
  2. Do one of the following:
    - Press the 'Delete' key.
    - Click the - button in the Project window.
    - From the Edit menu, choose 'Delete'
    - Right-click the item, and from the Edit menu, choose 'Delete'

The items will be removed from the Sequence. The media files on disk will not be affected.

Sequencing Video Items

Video items can be rearranged within the Sequence when using either Thumbnail View or List View. Use standard selection keyboard short-cuts to choose multiple and non-contiguous assets. Items will play back in the order shown. However, if the sequence has the global "Shuffle" setting enabled, then the order will be randomized during playback.

To change the order of video assets:

  1. In the Video tab, select any files to be moved by doing one of the following:
    - Click to select a single item.
    - Shift-click to select a contiguous set of items.
    - On Macintosh, command-click to select non-contiguous items.
    - On Windows, control-click to select non-contiguous items.
  2. Drag the items to the new location within the Sequence area.

The items will then move into the new order.

Tips:

Using the Audio tab

For most screensavers, this is where the aural magic happens. Music tracks can be set up to loop, shuffle, or simply play just once. Just about any audio file format that QuickTime or Flash will read can be imported.

The Audio tab

The Sequence area

All audio assets presented in linear order from top to bottom.

The Selection Information section

Details the amount of assets selected.

The Delete button

Remove selected sequence items from the project.

The Add button

Allows use of the Open browser to import files.

The Audio columns

Detailed information about all audio assets in the project.

Reordering List View

Control-click in the List View column name area to re-arrange columns.

Tips:

Importing Audio

Whether a single file or a collection of folders, everything can be brought into iScreensaver, and it will sort out the proper audio formats. Both movies and music can be imported at the same time.

To import audio assets:

The assets will be automatically arranged in the Sequence area.

Deleting Audio

Sometimes an asset just doesn't work out.

To delete audio assets:

  1. In the Audio tab, select any files to be deleted.
  2. Do one of the following:
    - Type Delete.
    - Click - from the Project window.

The assets will be removed from the Sequence area.

Reorganizing Audio Sequences

Any audio asset can be rearranged within the Sequence. Use standard selection keyboard short-cuts to choose multiple and non-contiguous assets. If using 'Shuffle' features, assets do not need to be arranged in any particular order.

To reorganize audio assets:

  1. In the Audio tab, select any files to be moved by doing one of the following:
    - Click for single assets.
    - Shift-click for contiguous assets.
    - On Macintosh, command-click for non-contiguous assets.
    - On Windows, control-click for non-contiguous assets.
  2. Drag the assets to their desired location within the Sequence area.

The assets will then move into their new order.

Using the 'Add Items...' browsers

Both Mac and Windows operating systems have new file selection dialogs that provide shortcuts to find all Movie, Music, and Picture files. On Mac, selections can also be made directly from Photos and iTunes playlists.

Macintosh

Use the "Music", "Photos", or "Movies" from the Media section. Within each is an iTunes and Photos sub-selection that will include Play Lists and Photo Albums.

Macintosh Open browser

Windows

Use the "Documents", "Music", "Pictures", or "Video" library folders to choose from your personal assets.

Windows Open browser

Editing a Screensaver Project

Once all the assets are located within the screensaver project, the fun begins.

The Sequence area of the Video tab displays thumbnails of movies, photos, and flash files, arranged in playback order from left to right, top to bottom. Switch to List View and all parameters can be in a spreadsheet format. Some columns (text captions) can be edited in place. On the Audio tab, the audio soundtrack sequence is always in List View.

Organizing the Sequence Items

Any item can be rearranged or duplicated within the Sequence. Use the standard selection keyboard short-cuts to choose multiple and non-contiguous assets. If using 'Shuffle' features, assets do not need to be arranged in any particular order.

Arranging order

Rearrange sequence order by dragging contigous or non-contiguous asset thumbnails to a different point in the timeline.

To Select Multiple Items:

  1. In the Video or Audio tabs, you can select multiple items, including non-contiguous sets by doing one of the following:
    - Click for single assets.
    - Shift-click for contiguous assets.
    - Hold down the Shift key and use the arrow keys to move the selection (this will select items as you visit them).
    - On Macintosh, command-click for non-contiguous assets.
    - On Windows, control-click for non-contiguous assets.
  2. From the Edit Menu, choose one of the following:
    - Choose 'Select All' to select all items.
    - Choose 'Select None' to select nothing.
    - Choose 'Invert Selection' to select the un-selected items.

To reorder items:

  1. Select the item(s) to move.
  2. Drag and drop the items to the desired location within the Sequence area.

The items will then move into the new order.

To duplicate items:

  1. Select the item(s) to duplicate.
  2. Do one of the following:
    - Select Duplicate from the Edit menu.
    - On Macintosh, type Command-D.
    - On Windows, type Control-D.
    - Right-click the item, and from the Edit menu, choose 'Duplicate.'

The item(s) will be duplicated. The duplicated items will be selected and located immediately after the last selected item.

Tips:

Previewing the Screensaver

Knowing how your screensaver will look on different computers is one of the hardest parts of screensaver design. Different operating systems (Mac OS X, Windows), CPU speed, RAM, hard drive speed, monitor size and aspect ratio (4:3, HD, and Wide-screen) can all influence the final result. iScreensaver has features that help you deal with this complexity; however there is no substitute for careful design and testing. Fortunately, the Preview window (also known as the "Stage" Window) can help you as it allows previewing at various sizes.

Access the Preview stage from the toolbar of the Project window. You can have a separate Preview stage for each project that is currently open.

Preview stage, icon

Using the Preview stage

Preview comes with a on-screen heads up display (HUD) for play controls and advanced information, and the stage can be easily resized. On Macintosh, the preview stage has additional size/scale controls so you can simulate various monitor sizes.

The Preview stage

The Preview stage with advanced heads up display open.

Heads Up Display

Move cursor over the Preview stage to bring up instant play options, mute audio, skip assets, random access, or unzoom from full screen.

Size

Click to bring up a pop-up menu. Select from many popular monitor resolutions, at 25%, 50%, 100%, 150% and 200% scaling factor. This lets you preview a 30" monitor on a 15" screen.

Go To

Brings up the "Thumbnail Chooser" allowing you to jump to any media item. [Also available via the HUD's GoTo button]

Zoom

Switches the Preview to full screen. For multi-monitor systems, just move the Preview stage to the monitor you wish to use, then click zoom to go fullscreen on this monitor. [Also available via the HUD's Zoom button]

Playing the preview

There are two ways to play the preview, either from the current sequence location or from the beginning of the sequence. Using the HUD or pressing the space bar will start at the current location, but use 'Run Full Screen' from the Preview menu to restart the sequence. The arrow keyboard controls can quickly jump between assets.

Resizing the stage

Why is guessing the user's monitor sizing and resolution so difficult? Well, assets can be set up to run at actual size, proportionally stretched, full screen, or even with custom sizes, and users' monitors have different ratios of pixels and widths. What lines up with one machine might line up totally different on another.

The trick is to test a variety of different sizes, and settings, and find what feels most comfortable to your screensaver design layout.

Use the pull-down menu to choose from different popular monitor resolutions. If you have limited screen space, try a smaller percentage using the same proportions, which will resize the assets to match. Drag the lower right corner of the Preview stage to change instantly to any custom size.

Changing monitor preview size

The Preview stage has additional presets for previewing at popular monitor sizes.

Using the Playback controls

The HUD - the heads up display - appears when the cursor is moved over the Preview stage. In windowed' mode, the HUD auto-hides when the cursor leaves the window. In full-screen mode it auto-hides after 4 seconds (leave your mouse cursor in the HUD to prevent auto-hide). The HUD buttons are as follows:

The Heads Up Display

The heads up display.

Disclosure Triangle

Click to view detailed play status information (video and audio file names, play time, etc.).

Audio Mute

Switches audio on and off.

Rewind

Returns to the beginning of the sequence order. Play resumes if the sequence was playing.

Back Skip

Skips backward through the sequence order to the previous item.

Play | Pause

Pauses or resumes playback.

Forward Skip

Skips forward through the sequence order to the start of the next item.

Go To

Opens the Thumbnail chooser showing all media assets.

Zoom | Unzoom

Switches full screen on and off.

Viewing advanced playback information

With the HUD expanded, more details about playback status are available. This includes asset filename (for main video and audio sequence items), frame rate (for OpenGL effects), play time and total duration, CPU and GPU load percentages, and playback status. Use the disclosure triangle to toggle views.

The advanced heads up display

The advanced heads up display.

Tip:

Setting and Changing Options

Use the Info Palette to view and change sequence and item settings and properties. The Info palette can be accessed by the toolbar in the Project window. You may change settings for a single Sequence Item, or multiple selected Sequence Items.

Info palette, icon

The Info palette

Sizing, locations, captions, overlays, duration, and compression are but a few of the options available through the Info palette. From a macro level to micro, the left to right order of toolbar icons scales from global settings to item settings.

Info palette, icons

The setting categories of the Info palette.

Global

Settings which affect the entire sequence as a whole, such as Loop and Shuffle. For both Video and Audio sequences.

Behavior

Options specific to each Sequence Item, such as duration, disabling text caption and overlays, and interactivity.

Media

Settings for individual assets, such as size, location, background color or masking, movie audio volume, visual effect transitions, and image compression and sizing.

Caption

Settings for the Text Caption Overlay layer, providing styled unicode text with foreground and background color and transparency. [Video sequences only]

Overlay

Settings for the Overlay Picture layer, providing still images that overlay the other layers. [Video sequences only]

To navigate the Info palette:



Info palette, keyboard shortcuts

When editing, use keyboard shortcuts to quickly switch between settings.

Global settings

Governs the order of item playback, and behavior when exiting or resuming the screensaver. A sequence can use a random, or shuffled, order, it can remember where it left off and resume playback at that item and play time, or use the first item in the sequence always upon startup.

Note that these settings apply to Video and Audio sequences independently.

Info palette, global video settings Info palette, global audio settings

Global settings can be different for video and audio sequences.

Loop

If Loop is checked, after completing one entire sequence, the sequence will begin again, repeating forever (or until the user exits the screensaver, or the computer's power manager puts the screen or computer to sleep).

Note that this setting applies to the sequence as a whole, and can be applied to the Video and Audio sequences separately. So one could, for example, have a video sequence that loops, and an audio sequence that does not loop. If you are using audio, we recommend this setting since audio that loops forever can become tiresome.

Shuffle

Items will be played back in a shuffled order. (Note: 'shuffle' means that each item will play back once with no repeats for a given sequence. Just like shuffling a deck of cards, you can never see the same card twice in a single deck.) When does the re-shuffle happen? Read on...

Start with First Item

Always starts the screensaver with the first item in the sequence. This is often used to have an 'opening title' or 'opening song' before resuming with the rest of the shuffled sequences.

Only Play Once

Plays the first item only once, allowing loop cycles without repeating the first item in the video sequence, even if 'Shuffle' is turned on.

Start with Random Item

Begins at a random location within the sequence. Then, the rest of the items are played in order, unless, of course, 'Shuffle' is turned on.

Resume with Previous Item

Every time the screensaver plays, it remembers the item playing when it was exited. The next time the screensaver starts, it resumes where it had stopped. For Video or Audio items, it will resume with the same item AND the same time offset as it stopped at. For example, if a movie was playing and it stopped at 2 minutes 32 seconds, it would resume at the same position. SWF (Flash) and Image items always resume at the beginning of their play time.
When combined with Shuffle, this will cause the entire shuffled sequence pattern to play until completed before reshuffling. This setting is often used with hundred- or thousand-item slide shows, so you see the entire sequence before it repeats.

Sequence Order Logic

When looping and shuffling are used together, the combinations of options change the order of the sequence pattern in a variety of possibly bewildering ways. Both Video and Audio Sequences have the same logic structure for these settings, though each sequence can have its own settings.

Let's use the example that you have a sequence with a total of five items:

Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5

There are four combinations possible with loop and shuffle, and four settings for how the sequence starts up. Thus, sixteen different styles of playback behavior.

For this example, we illustrate three different 'sleep cycles': In the first activation, we exit the screensaver at the end of the third sequence item; the second activation, we exit the screensaver at the end of the fourth item; and for the final activation the screensaver is allowed to play indefinitely:

All Options Off Shuffle On Loop On All Options On
Start with first item:
First Item First first:
1 2 3
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Exit Screensaver

second:
1 2 3 4
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Exit Screensaver

third:
1 2 3 4 5
[blank]
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5
Logic Blank
first:
1 3 4
Logic 1 Logic 3 Logic 4 Exit Screensaver

second:
1 5 3 2
Logic 1 Logic 5 Logic 3 Logic 2 Exit Screensaver

third:
1 5 2 3 4
[blank]
Logic 1 Logic 5 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4
Logic Blank
first:
1 2 3
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Exit Screensaver

second:
1 2 3 4
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Exit Screensaver

third:
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 . . .
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5
Logic 1 Logic 2 . . .
first:
1 4 2
Logic 1 Logic 4 Logic 2 Exit Screensaver

second:
1 3 4 5
Logic 1 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5 Exit Screensaver

third:
1 5 2 3 4
1 2 5 4 3
1 3 . . .
Logic 1 Logic 5 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 5 Logic 4 Logic 3
Logic 1 Logic 3 . . .
Start with first item but only play first item once:
First Item First, Only Play It Once first:
1 2 3
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Exit Screensaver

second:
1 2 3 4
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Exit Screensaver

third:
1 2 3 4 5
[blank]
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5
Logic Blank
first:
1 3 4
Logic 1 Logic 3 Logic 4 Exit Screensaver

second:
1 5 3 2
Logic 1 Logic 5 Logic 3 Logic 2 Exit Screensaver

third:
1 5 2 3 4
[blank]
Logic 1 Logic 5 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4
Logic Blank
first:
1 2 3
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Exit Screensaver

second:
1 2 3 4
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Exit Screensaver

third:
1 2 3 4 5
2 3 4 5
2 3 . . .
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5
Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5
Logic 2 Logic 3 . . .
first:
1 4 2
Logic 1 Logic 4 Logic 2 Exit Screensaver

second:
1 3 4 5
Logic 1 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5 Exit Screensaver

third:
1 5 2 3 4
1 2 5 4 3
1 3 . . .
Logic 1 Logic 5 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4
Logic 2 Logic 5 Logic 4 Logic 3
Logic 5 Logic 3 . . .
Start with random item:
Random Item first:
4 5 [blank]
Logic 4 Logic 5 Logic Blank Exit Screensaver

second:
1 2 3 4
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Exit Screensaver

third:
3 4 5 [blank]
Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5 Logic Blank
first:
5 3 4
Logic 5 Logic 3 Logic 4 Exit Screensaver

second:
2 1 5 4
Logic 2 Logic 1 Logic 5 Logic 4 Exit Screensaver

third:
3 2 5 1 4
[blank]
Logic 3 Logic 2 Logic 5 Logic 1 Logic 4
Logic Blank
first:
5 1 2
Logic 5 Logic 1 Logic 2 Exit Screensaver

second:
4 5 1 2
Logic 4 Logic 5 Logic 1 Logic 2 Exit Screensaver

third:
3 4 5 1 2
3 4 5 1 2
3 4 . . .
Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5 Logic 1 Logic 2
Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5 Logic 1 Logic 2
Logic 3 Logic 4 . . .
first:
3 4 2
Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 2 Exit Screensaver

second:
1 3 2 4
Logic 1 Logic 3 Logic 2 Logic 4 Exit Screensaver

third:
5 1 2 3 4
1 2 5 4 3
2 3 . . .
Logic 5 Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 5 Logic 4 Logic 3
Logic 2 Logic 3 . . .
Resume with previous item:
Resume Sequence first:
1 2 3
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Exit Screensaver

second:
3 4 5 [blank]
Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5 Logic Blank Exit Screensaver

third:
1 2 3 4 5
[blank]
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5
Logic Blank
first:
4 1 3
Logic 4 Logic 1 Logic 3 Exit Screensaver

second:
3 2 5 [blank]
Logic 3 Logic 2 Logic 5 Logic Blank Exit Screensaver

third:
5 3 1 2 4
[blank]
Logic 5 Logic 3 Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 4
Logic Blank
first:
1 2 3
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Exit Screensaver

second:
3 4 5 1
Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5 Logic 1 Exit Screensaver

third:
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 3 4 5
1 2 . . .
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5
Logic 1 Logic 2 Logic 3 Logic 4 Logic 5
Logic 1 Logic 2 . . .
first:
4 1 3
Logic 4 Logic 1 Logic 3 Exit Screensaver

second:
3 2 5 1
Logic 3 Logic 2 Logic 5 Logic 1 Exit Screensaver

third:
1 5 4 2 3
4 3 5 1 2
4 1 . . .
Logic 1 Logic 5 Logic 4 Logic 2 Logic 3
Logic 4 Logic 3 Logic 5 Logic 1 Logic 2
Logic 4 Logic 1 . . .

Tips:

Behavior settings

The Behavior tab is used to set properties that apply to an item as whole (such as playback duration), and to switch off the different layers - Caption and Overlay. Changes made here will affect any selected item(s) in the Sequence window.

Info palette, behavior settings

Play Behavior sets image durations, movie looping, and in/out points.

Specifying item duration

Use preset pop-up menu to quickly set the time or play count for an asset. The options available depend on the type of the selected item(s). For example, for a QuickTime movie, you could set a custom in-point and out-point and loop count, without needing to duplicate or trim the actual file.

To choose a preset duration:

  1. Select the item(s) to modify.
  2. In the Info palette's Behavior tab, choose how long they should be displayed, in seconds or, in the case of movies, number of repeating times.

The assets will then play for that preset duration.

Duration options

The Duration pop-up menu.

To set a custom duration:

  1. Select the item(s) to modify.
  2. Open the custom settings in the Info palette's Behavior tab, by choosing the 'Custom...' option at the bottom of the pop-up list.
  3. Either do one of the following:
    - Choose number of times to repeat a movie.
    - Choose a new start and end time in seconds, for either movies or images.

The assets will then play for that custom duration.

Tips:

Enabling overlays

Controls for switching the text and image overlays on or off. Both default to 'Checked'. The Text caption defaults to showing the filename on a background plate, while the Image Overlay defaults as an empty image.

Info palette, master overlays

If overlays are not appearing, make sure they've been switched on at their master control.

Show Text Caption

When checked will show any text captions from the Caption tab.

Show Image Overlay

When checked will show any image overlays from the Overlay tab.

Why disable an overlay at all?

Once we reach the Locking chapter, you'll find that this feature will become very valuable, for example: copy one sequence to create matching Locked and Unlocked sequences, and quickly disable all the Overlays for the Unlocked version. Disabled overlays are not built into the final screensavers, and thus do not take up room in the file. Alternatively, overlays can be used to help you during the authoring process: for example, use for notes during production and remove any traces when building the installers.

Allowing keyboard & cursor interaction

Most users expect a screensaver to wake up when they move or click the mouse, hit a key on their keyboard, touch their touchscreen, or sweep their touchpad. However, in some cases it can be fun or useful to allow the user to use the keyboard or cursor without exiting the screensaver. In particular, with special Flash media assets that include custom scripting. In these cases, the user can use the mouse, keyboard, or other inputs to affect the screensaver.

Info palette, interactive settings

Some Flash movies need to override the usual screensaver behaviors and allow user inputs.

Tips:

Media settings

Control specific details about the main video or audio assets within each Sequence Item. The subsections include audio controls, background colors, sizes, locations, transition video effects, and image resizing and re-compression settings.

Info palette, media settings

Many Media subsections for video assets; less Media settings for audio assets.

Choosing the Media Item

The Media Item subsection shows the asset Thumbnail and file path. It is possible to replace or delete the Media asset from the item, without removing the item itself from the sequence. This can leave a 'media-less' item which may (or may not) be useful.

Info palette, media item settings

Some technical information can be found about the Media Item.

Selecting a different Media file

There are times in production where only the media file itself needs to be changed, while the other item settings are fine. You can change only the media file, leaving the rest of the Sequence Item untouched.

To replace a media item:

  1. Select the item(s) to edit in the Sequence editor.
  2. In the Info palette's Media tab, open the Media Item subsection by clicking the small triangle (if needed).
  3. Click the '+' button to replace the media file for the selected item(s).
  4. From the File Browser, select a media file to replace the previous one(s).

This selected file will both replace the content and reset many default options of any selected Sequence Items.

Deleting a Media file

There are times in production where an element needs to be removed and replaced immediately, but it might be unclear just what the replacement shall be. Thus it is possible to delete just the Media Item, leaving Captions and Overlays untouched, yet testable and waiting for the new content.

To delete a media item:

  1. Select the item(s) to edit in the Sequence editor.
  2. In the Info palette's Media tab, open the Media Item subsection.
  3. Choose the '-' button to delete those media items.

This action will remove the media content only from the selected Sequence Items.

Tips:

Using Items with Audio

Movies files can have internal audio tracks and sound effects. On the Media tab's Audio subsection, control how these foreground sounds mix with the Audio tab's background playback. Choices include a default of playing both tracks with no change in audio mix levels, or the ability for changing, pausing, or muting the background track. Note that due to technical limitations, control of Flash audio is not possible -- instead Flash audio must be scripted within the SWF itself.

Info palette, video media's audio settings

Audio Sequence background audio levels can be adjusted against the selected foreground Item(s) volume.

Volume controls

This media item's foreground audio uses a volume control that ranges from a Mute position at 0 (zero) to the default position of a loud 100. This only functions with movies. Images have no audio (of course), and Flash audio must be controlled from within the Flash file itself.

Background audio controls

Background audio includes any audio track playing from the Audio sequence playlist. Options include lowering the volume while continuing play (called "ducking"), muting the volume while continuing play, and pausing the background track until the media item has completed.

Tips:

Masking with Colors and Transparencies

Images can be framed or punched out and placed on a background color, have a color tint added, can filter out a specific RGB color, or use the alpha channel masks that some file types (PNG, TIFF, GIF) provide.

Info palette, media color settings

Different color options.

Setting Transparent colors

iScreensaver will use the Transparency setting's Color as a masking filter to punch out as much of that value from the image as possible.

To select an RGB color as a mask in an Image:

  1. Select the item(s) to edit in the Sequence editor.
  2. In the Info palette's Media tab, open the Color subsection.
  3. From the Transparency pop-up menu, choose Color.
  4. Click on the Mask color square to open the Color palette.
  5. (Macintosh) On the Color palette, select the magnifying glass cursor and use it on the image in the Media Item frame.
  6. (Windows or Mac) Enter the RGB values (0-255, 0-255, 0-255) of the color you wish to use as a mask.
  7. Your selected color should 'drop-out' of the image, showing the Background color. Reselect a color if not correct.

Any changes you make here do not affect the original media file on disk, so feel free to experiment!

Tips:

Using Alpha masks

An alpha mask is an layer in an image file that defines the transparency percent when compositing the image with other images. Formats that support such are PNG-24, PICT, GIF, Targa, and are usually created and saved from Adobe Photoshop or the open source GIMP image manipulation software. Most (but not all) images with alpha channels will be automatically detected and mask settings will be auto-set, so you generally won't need to use the following instructions:

To mask a color from an image's alpha channel:

  1. Select the item(s) to edit in the Sequence editor.
  2. In the Info palette's Media tab, open the Color subsection.
  3. From the Transparency pop-up menu, choose Mask.
  4. If the file has an alpha mask, then that region should 'drop-out' of the image, showing the Background color.

Any changes you make here do not affect the original media file on disk, so feel free to experiment!

Adjusting Foreground Tint

The media item's color spectrum can be tinted by setting the Foreground color with the Color palette. This only works on Images. Note that in addition to changing the RGB color values, you can also change the Alpha percent. Alpha values less than 255 will cause the image to blend in with the background.

Adjusting Background Color

The media item's background color can be changed using the Foreground color with the Color palette. When assets are letterboxed or masked, it is this background color that determines what is extended to the edges of the screen. For Image assets, you can also change the Alpha value of the background color. Combined with the various Transparency settings, this can give you various interesting effects: for example, using a PNG with mask, you could make the background opaque and the foreground transparent, or vice versa.

Tips:

Adjusting Media Size and Location

Visual Media Items (Movies, Flash, and Images) can be placed anywhere on the screen in two dimensions, and can be sized using several size modes. This is a tricky part of good design, because many computers have different screen sizes: pixel width, pixel height, and aspect ratios. See Designing & Preparing for more info.
Some items can be adjusted (flipped or rotated) as well.

Info palette, video media size settings

Display modes include size and location settings.

Using the Stretch mode

Every computer monitor is different, and as an author you need to try to design for these variables. The Stretch mode settings give you various options.

Actual Size

The media item will be displayed at it's 'actual' pixel size. For example, a 640x480 QuickTime movie would be displayed at 640x480 pixels in size. No more, no less.

Letterbox

Proportionally scales the asset to keep it contained fully on-screen, using the background color to fill empty space. Technically, the longest dimension of the asset is stretched to match the longest dimension of the screen.

Crop

Proportional scales the asset to fill the screen, whether or not it all stays visible. Technically, the shortest dimension of the asset is stretched to match the shortest dimension of the screen.

Full Screen

Disproportionally stretches the image to fit the screen completely, regardless of asset dimensions. Squares may turn into rectangles, and Circles into Ovals.

Custom X and Y

Set the width and height of the asset to display on-screen as desired, in absolute pixels or percentage of the monitor size.

Visualizing the Stretch mode options:

Let's use the example of three images, one an average squared photo, and one each of wide and tall. Looking at actual size, letterbox, crop, and fill screen, as seen in a conventional 4:3 ratio monitor, a wide-screen laptop, and a high-definition 30" monitor. For comparison, we have added an actual-size overlay picture to the bottom right corner.

Compare the relative sizing of these images Preview Preview Preview with these monitor setups:

Actual Size

Letterbox

Crop

Fill

Full Screen Full Screen Full Screen Full Screen

4:3 Screen

Wide Screen Wide Screen Wide Screen Wide Screen

Wide Screen

High Definition High Definition High Definition High Definition

High Definition

Actual Size

Letterbox

Crop

Fill

Full Screen Full Screen Full Screen Full Screen

4:3 Screen

Wide Screen Wide Screen Wide Screen Wide Screen

Wide Screen

High Definition High Definition High Definition High Definition

High Definition

Actual Size

Letterbox

Crop

Fill

Full Screen Full Screen Full Screen Full Screen

4:3 Screen

Wide Screen Wide Screen Wide Screen Wide Screen

Wide Screen

High Definition High Definition High Definition High Definition

High Definition

Using the Alignment controls

The Media Item will be positioned on the screen according to the settings of the Alignment controls. Using X (width) and Y (height), the asset can be positioned to a particular spot, or to a proportional location. It is worth testing many screen sizes with the Preview stage when using these settings.

X / Width

Defaults to the center of the end user's monitor. Can be aligned to either the left or right sides of the screen, with optional pixel or % offsets.

Y / Height

Defaults to the center of the end user's monitor. Can be aligned to either the top or bottom sides of the screen, with optional pixel or % offsets.

Values

Offset numbers can be expressed in positive or negative pixel amounts, or by percentage of the end user's monitor setup. Use the '%' symbol after the number to differentiate percentages from pixels.

The difference distinguishing between percentage and pixels

The width set to 5% (percent) of the screen size, height set to 5 pixels.

Adjusting Flip and Rotation

It is simple to flip or rotate the Media Item, in cases of incorrect importation. This only works with Image files, and does not change anything with the original file.

Flip

Image Assets can be flipped horizontally, vertically, or both directions at once.

Rotate

Image Assets can be rotated to any angle. There are some presets for rotating clockwise or counter-clockwise 90-degrees, as well as a 180-degree flip.

Tips:

Setting the Visual Effect Transition

Each media item will appear onscreen. How does it appear? Movies and Flash files appear onscreen immediately, using a Cut effect. Images default with an one-second Dissolve with some slight motion. But there are some other options to test and explore.

Info palette, video media effects settings

Custom options available for effects motion.

Effect Types

There are many simple effects, and some very powerful custom motion controls. You might need to play with the custom values to fine-tune your presentations.

Cut

An immediate switch from the previous asset.

Dissolve

A slow fade between the previous asset and the new asset. Both assets are visible on screen at once.

Fade

The previous asset fades to its background color which dissolves to the new asset's background color then fades up the asset. Use the default background color of black for fading to black between assets. In a Fade effect, the first item is completely gone before the second item begins to appear.

Fall

The new asset drops downward at an angle, covering the previous asset. There are four directional presets plus random.

Slide

The new asset slides across, up, or down, covering the previous asset. There are four directional presets plus random.

Wipe

The new asset wipes across, up, or down, covering the previous asset. There are four directional presets plus random.

Zoom

The new asset zooms from the center, covering the previous asset. Adjustments can be made to all initial 3-D coordinates (X, Y, and Z).

Custom...

The fun begins! Create your own effect, by setting initial location, initial velocity, initial rotation, and spin speed. These are all 3-D coordinates (X, Y, and Z) so some really interesting effects are possible.

To use a preset effect:

  1. Select the item(s) to edit in the Sequence editor.
  2. In the Info palette's Media tab, click the Preset effect listed on the Effect subsection.
  3. Choose an effect from the pop-up menu.
  4. Open the Effect subsection to change specific effect settings.

    Your selected effect will preview an A / B example.
Motion Effect options

The Effects pop-up menu.

Setting Effect Duration

Every effect, except Cut, has a duration setting. This is not to be confused with the Media Behavior Duration. The Effect duration is independent, and controls the duration of the effect motion and (with many effects) the alpha dissolve.

Setting Random Motion

Some effects provide a 'Random Motion' checkbox that, when checked, will provide a pleasing gentle in/out/left/right motion while the image is onscreen.

Using Custom Effects

The types of movement include location, velocity, rotation, and spin. Location and Rotation set up the asset, while Velocity and Spin determine speed and direction of motion. The Simultaneous Out Effect changes the timing of the A-item's Out point.

Standard OpenGL coordinates are used, where the screen is always 2.0 units wide, with the height depending upon monitor aspect ratio. The center of the screen is the zero (0, 0, 0) point, with positive XYZ towards the right, down, away from camera. Positive rotations are clockwise. Inital rotation is measured in degrees. Velocity is measured in screen units per second divided by 100. Spin is measured in degrees per second. Z coordinates of less than -1.0 are 'behind the camera' and thus invisible.

You can do all sorts of weird things with custom motion effects, and there are many ways to get images offscreen or invisible. Caveat emptor. Remember the Undo!

Location

Set the starting location for the asset from a centered 0,0,0 point, usually ranging from -1 (left, raise, closer) to +1 (right, lower, further), using numbers as small as in tenths and hundredths.

Velocity

Set a speed and motion direction along an axis, in units per second divided by 100, using positive and negative numbers as small as in tenths and hundredths.

Rotation

Set the starting rotation position for the asset, usually ranging from -180 to +180 degrees.

Spin

Set a speed and motion direction of rotation around an axis, in degrees per second, using positive and negative numbers as small as in tenths and hundredths.

Directions for Location Directions for Rotation

Initial location centered at 0,0,0. Rotation in degrees around independent axes.

To use a custom effect:

  1. In the Video tab, select a file.
  2. In the Info palette's Media tab, open the Effect subsection.
  3. Choose Custom... on the pop-up menu.
  4. Change X Y Z values to affect the B motion in the preview.
  5. Click the Recycle button to repeat the preview.

    Your selected effect will preview an A / B example.

Tips:

Previewing Transitions

Use the A / B thumbnail previewer by opening the Effect subsection. The 'B' frame represents any selected sequence items in the screensaver. Replay the thumbnail preview with the Recycle button.

Working with Compression Presets

Image files (PICT, JPEG, PNG, etc.) can be resized and/or re-compressed when used in iScreensaver. This has several advantages: You can import high-resolution images directly from your camera without re-sizing first. Images can be easily resized using presets in case you wish to build more than one version (for example, a "high resolution" and "low resolution" version. Please read about image size limitations and using Best Practices.

Info palette, video media compression settings

Image compression settings.

Presets

The compression/size presets menu has a few settings that will often work for most situations. Use the Custom setting for manual control of the parameters.

Compress

Choose a compression level.

Maximum Size

It's very important to limit images to a size that is appropriate for the end user's monitor size and computer speed. Using this setting, images that are larger than the width or height provided will be proportionally resized. Images smaller than the width & height will not be resized. Please read about image size limitations and using Best Practices.

Original & Final Image Size

When using resizing or compression, if a single item is selected, its image size (pixels and bytes) will be shown. Note: this may take a few seconds to update with large images.

Allow OpenGL Texture Compression

This will turn on DTX5 GPU compression, if available.

Tips:

Caption overlay settings

Every Sequence Item can have a text caption, using international unicode fonts and styles. In addition, special "insert variables" can insert the asset filename, asset size, and meta data from iTunes (such as Title or Description). Text captions can have an overall background color and transparency, and a per-letter foreground text color. During the screensaver build process, text captions are converted to a compressed image file. This means the author doesn't need to worry about font issues on the end-user machine. Text captions are truly WYSIWYG.

Info palette, captions

The Caption subsections.

Setting the Caption font controls

Each letter can have its own individual font, size, style, and foreground color. The background color applies to the text block as a whole.

Info palette, caption text settings

The text options, including fonts, sizes, colors, and special variables pulled from image metadata.

Setting Fonts

Either select the desired font and, then begin typing in the text box. Or, select some letters firat, then choose a new font from the popup menu.

Setting Font sizes

Either select the desired font size and begin typing, or select text first, then change the font size. You can use the up/down arrows to change font size, or type a pixel size directly.

Setting Font styles

Either select the desired font style and begin typing, or type then select the text and choose the font style (P: plain, B:bold, I:italic, U:underline).

Setting Font colors

Either select the desired font color and begin typing, or type then select the text and choose the font color. The foreground text color can be set on a per-letter basis. The background text color affects the entire text caption as a whole.

Setting Text Alignment

Text can be centered or aligned to the left or right sides of the text block.

Inserting Variables

Choose variables from the Special list. These are special text strings that will be converted into a value when displayed. For example, %title% will show the meta-data title field when an image was imported from Photos. To see the resulting value, view the item in the Preview Stage window. You can apply style changes to the %variables%, as long as the %variable% word is all a single style.

Tips:

Adjusting Caption Size and Location

The text captions layer can be positioned in the same way as media and overlay layers. Text can be rotated, flipped, or forced to proportionally stretch to the end users' monitors. Text often looks pixellated and blurry when stretched to large sizes, so Actual Size is often the best display mode to use.

Info palette, caption size settings

Different settings for screen sizing and location, rotation, and padding for background color plates.

Using the Stretch mode

For captions, usually it is recommended to leave them at their actual size.

Actual Size

A 12 pixel font will be displayed at 12 pixels in size, no matter the final monitor screen size. This is the recommended setting.

Letterbox

Proportionally scales the entire text caption block caption to keep it contained fully on-screen, using the background color to fill empty space. Generally looks terrible unless you are using a very large font size.

Crop

Proportional scales the caption to fill the screen, whether or not it all stays visible. Generally not recommended.

Full Screen

Disproportionally stretches the caption to fit the screen completely, regardless of asset dimensions. Generally looks poor, unless using a very large font size.

Custom X and Y

Set the width and height of the caption to display on-screen as desired, in absolute pixels or percentage of the screen size.

Using the Alignment controls

The captions can be repositioned on the screen using the Alignment controls. Using X (width) and Y (height), the captions can be positioned to a particular spot, or to a proportional location (expressed as a % of the screen size). It is worth testing many screen sizes with the Preview stage when using these settings to get a feel for how items will be located on various monitor sizes.

X / Width

Defaults to the center of the end user's monitor. Can be aligned to either the left or right sides of the screen, with optional pixel or percent offsets.

Y / Height

Defaults to the center of the end user's monitor. Can be aligned to either the top or bottom sides of the screen, with optional pixel or percent offsets.

Values

Offset numbers can be expressed in positive or negative pixel amounts, or by percentage of the end user's monitor setup. Use the '%' symbol after the number to differentiate percentages from pixels.

The difference distinguishing between percentage and pixels

The width set to 5% (percent) of the screen size, height set to 5 pixels.

Adjusting Flip and Rotation

Captions can be flipped or rotated. They will remain in their block size position.

Flip

Captions can be flipped horizontally, vertically, or both directions at once.

Rotate

Captions can be rotated to any angle. There are some presets for rotating clockwise or counter-clockwise 90-degrees, as well as a 180-degree flip.

Adjusting the Padding controls

Add postive or negative numbers to pad extra pixels to the edges of the captions. This helps push the background color away from the text. Padding can be expressed as a percent (of the screen width or height).

Tips:

Setting the Visual Effect Transition

Each caption has a transition effect available for how it is displayed. The default is a one second dissolve.

Info palette, caption effects settings

Caption effect settings.

Types of Transitions

There are few simple effects, as the caption layer does not allow motion.

Parent

Matches the timing of the Media Item's effect transition.

Cut

An immediate switch from the previous asset.

Dissolve

A slow fade between the previous caption and the new caption.

Setting Durations

Every effect, except cut, has a duration length setting.

Previewing Transitions

Use the A / B thumbnail previewer by opening the Effect subsection. Replay the preview with the Recycle button.

Overlay settings

Need to add an image to every visual asset in your screensaver, but don't want to have to do the compositing work? Luckily, almost any still image can be used as an instant picture overlay. Typically, these are logo images that include an alpha mask or sit on plain solid backgrounds. Remember that as a functioning screensaver, you might not wish to leave the overlay up on every asset in the same location - to prevent monitor burn-in (or even hinting at it). For best performance, keep overlay images small and do not stretch to full-screen size.

Info palette, overlays

Picture overlay subsections.

Choosing the Media Item

The Overlay subsection lets you select the image file, shows a thumbnail preview, the file size and location on disk. Any image format that QuickTime can read can be used as an overlay.

Info palette, overlay item settings

Some technical information about the overlay asset.

Selecting a different Overlay file

You can easily change only the overlay image file, leaving the rest of the settings intact:

To replace an overlay file:

  1. Select the item(s) to edit in the Sequence editor.
  2. In the Info palette's Overlay tab, open the Media Item subsection by clicking the small triangle (if needed).
  3. Click the '+' button to replace the overlay file for the selected item(s).
  4. From the File Browser, select an overlay file to replace the previous one(s).

This selected file will both replace the overlay and reset some defaults (such as compression and masking) for any selected Sequence Items.

Removing an Overlay file

It is possible to delete just the Overlay file, leaving Media and Captions untouched.

To remove the overlay file:

  1. Select the item(s) to edit in the Sequence editor.
  2. In the Info palette's Overlay tab, open the Media Item subsection.
  3. Choose the '-' button to remove the overlay file.

This action will remove the overlay file only from the selected Sequence Items. The file(s) on disk will not be affected.

Masking with Colors and Transparencies

Images can be framed or punched out and placed on a background color, have a color tint added, can filter out a specific RGB color, or use the alpha channel masks that some file types (PNG, TIFF, GIF) provide.

Info palette, overlay color settings

Different color settings.

Setting Transparent colors

iScreensaver will use the Transparency setting's Color as a masking filter to punch out as much of that value from the image as possible.

To mask a color from an image:

  1. Select the item(s) to edit in the Sequence editor.
  2. In the Info palette's Overlay tab, open the Color subsection.
  3. From the Transparency pop-up menu, choose Color.
  4. Click on the Mask color square to open the Color palette.
  5. (Macintosh) On the Color palette, select the magnifying glass cursor and use it on the image in the Media Item frame.
  6. (Windows or Mac) Enter the RGB values (0-255, 0-255, 0-255) of the color you wish to use as a mask.
  7. Your selected color should 'drop-out' of the image, showing the Background color. Reselect a color if not correct.

Tips:

An alpha mask is an layer in an image file that defines the transparency percent when compositing the image with other images. Formats that support such are PNG-24, PICT, GIF, Targa, and are usually created and saved from Adobe Photoshop or the open source GIMP image manipulation software. Most (but not all) images with alpha channels will be automatically detected and mask settings will be auto-set, so you generally won't need to use the following instructions:

To mask a color from an image's alpha channel:

  1. Select the item(s) to edit in the Sequence editor.
  2. In the Info palette's Media tab, open the Color subsection.
  3. From the Transparency pop-up menu, choose Mask.
  4. If the file has an alpha mask, then that region should 'drop-out' of the image, showing the Background color.

Any changes you make here do not affect the original media file on disk, so feel free to experiment!

Adjusting Foreground Tint

The overlay item's color spectrum can be tinted by setting the Foreground color with the Color palette. This only works on Images. Note that in addition to changing the RGB color values, you can also change the Alpha percent. Alpha values less than 255 will cause the image to blend in with the media and background.

Adjusting Background Color

The overlay item's background color can be changed using the Foreground color with the Color palette. For Image assets, you can also change the Alpha value of the background color. Combined with the various Transparency settings, this can give you various interesting effects: for example, using a PNG with mask, you could make the background opaque and the foreground transparent, or vice versa.

Tips:

Adjusting Background colors

The overlay's background can be changed -- this will only be seen for images with alpha channels or when using color masking.

Adjusting Overlay Size and Location

Overlay Images can be placed anywhere on the screen in two dimensions, and can be sized using several size modes. This is a tricky part of good design, because many computers have different screen sizes: pixel width, pixel height, and aspect ratios. See Designing & Preparing for more information and tips.
Note that overlay images, when large size, can cause slower performance and use extra CPU resources. For best results, use small overlay images set to 'Actual size' display mode. Make sure to test on slower computers.

Info palette, overlay size settings

Different settings for screen sizing and location, flipping, and rotation.

Using the Stretch mode

For overlays, usually it is recommended to leave them at actual size.

Actual Size

Uses the exact picture pixel arrangement, no matter its relation to the monitor resolution. One pixel will be shown as one pixel.

Letterbox

Proportionally scales the overlay to keep it contained fully on-screen.

Crop

Proportionally scales the overlay to fill the screen, whether or not it all stays onscreen.

Full Screen

Non-proportionally stretches the overlay to fit the screen completely, regardless of asset dimensions.

Custom X and Y

Set the width and height of the caption to display on-screen as desired, in absolute pixels or percentage of the screen size.

Using the Location controls

The Overlay Item will be positioned on the screen according to the settings of the Location controls. Using X (width) and Y (height), the asset can be positioned to a particular spot, or to a proportional location. It is worth testing many screen sizes with the Preview stage when using these settings.

X / Width

Defaults to the center of the end user's monitor. Can be aligned to either the left or right sides of the screen, with optional pixel or % offsets.

Y / Height

Defaults to the center of the end user's monitor. Can be aligned to either the top or bottom sides of the screen, with optional pixel or % offsets.

Values

Offset numbers can be expressed in positive or negative pixel amounts, or by percentage of the end user's monitor setup. Use the '%' symbol after the number to differentiate percentages from pixels.

The difference distinguishing between percentage and pixels

The width set to 5% (percent) of the screen size, height set to 5 pixels.

Adjusting Flip and Rotation

Image files can be flipped or rotated. This does not affect the original file on disk.

Flip

Image Assets can be flipped horizontally, vertically, or both directions at once.

Rotate

Image Assets can be rotated to any angle. There are some presets for rotating clockwise or counter-clockwise 90-degrees, as well as a 180-degree flip.

Tips:

Setting the Visual Effect Transition

Each overlay has a transition effect available for how it is displayed. The default is a one second dissolve.

Info palette, overlay effects settings

Overlay effect settings.

Types of Transitions

There are few simple effects, as the caption layer does not allow motion.

Parent

Matches the timing of the Media Item's effect transition.

Cut

An immediate switch from the previous asset.

Dissolve

A slow fade between the previous caption and the new caption.

Setting Durations

Every effect, except cut, has a duration length setting.

Previewing Transitions

Use the A / B thumbnail previewer by opening the Effect subsection. Replay the preview with the Recycle button.

Working with Compression Presets

Image files (PICT, JPEG, PNG, etc.) can be resized and/or re-compressed when used in iScreensaver. This has several advantages: You can import high-resolution images directly from your camera without re-sizing first. Images can be easily resized using presets in case you wish to build more than one version (for example, a "high resolution" and "low resolution" version. Please Read about Image Size limitations and Best Practices.

Info palette, video media compression settings

Overlay compression settings.

Presets

The compression/size presets menu has a few settings that will often work for most situations. Use the Custom setting for manual control of the parameters.

Compress

Choose a compression level.

Maximum Size

It's very important to limit images to a size that is appropriate for the end user's monitor size and computer speed. Using this setting, images that are larger than the width or height provided will be proportionally resized. Images smaller than the width & height will not be resized. Please Read about Image Size limitations and Best Practices.

Original & Final Image Size

When using resizing/compression, if a single item is selected, the image size (pixels and bytes) will be shown. Note: this may take a few seconds to update with large images.

Tips:

Making changes across Multiple Items

A screensaver sequence may have tens or hundreds, or even thousands of items. Therefore it's handy to know how to make changes can be made more than one item at once: Just select one or more item(s), and then edit the settings in the Info palette. If a setting change is inappropriate for a selected asset in a varied group, the change will not affect that asset and will be ignored. If you make a mistake, use the Edit/Undo command.

Selecting a range of Items

This works similarly to selecting files in the Finder (Mac) or Explorer (Windows) and can be done with keyboard or mouse: In a sequence, choose your first selection, then shift-click on your last selection to choose everything in between.

Selecting non-contiguous Items

This works similarly to selecting files in the Finder (Mac) or Explorer (Windows) and can be done with keyboard or mouse: On Macintosh - command-click each selection to choose a non-contiguous selection. On Windows, control-click each selection to choose a non-contiguous selection.

Sorting Items with List View

In List view you can sort by any visible column. This can help you find items with a particuler settings or property. For example, to quickly select only Image files, just sort by the "Kind" column.

To sort items in a sequence:

  1. In the Video or Audio sequence tab, click the List View button.
  2. Choose a column to sort the list.
    Click a second time to reverse the order of that column.
  3. Control-click the column titles to open the Select Columns dialog to view more columns. Re-sort this list to re-order the columns.

Tips:

Pasting attributes

What about applying some properties from one item to a group of items? Simple, just use the 'Paste Attributes.' This means pasting just the Background Color to all the other assets. Or just the X Rotation of a Custom Effect. Or even both at once. Just about any setting can be pasted onto any item in the sequence, or even across projects.

Paste Attributes

Pasting attributes is an easy way to transfer a single setting, even across different projects.

To paste attributes:

  1. In the Video or Audio tabs, select a single item.
  2. Copy the item's settings by doing one of the following:
    - On Macintosh, type Command-C to copy.
    - On Windows, type Control-C to copy.
    - Choose 'Copy' from the Edit menu.
    - Control-click the item for the 'Edit > Copy' pop-up contextual menu.
  3. In the sequence, select one more more item(s) to modify.
  4. Open the Paste Attributes window by doing one of the following:
    - Choose 'Paste Attributes...' from the Edit menu.
    - Control-click for the 'Edit > Paste Attributes...' pop-up contextual menu.
  5. On the Paste Attributes window, select the checkboxes for the settings desired, and click 'OK.'

Tips:

Hey! What's Up With My Undo?

The Undo menu shows recent edits. Check under the Edit menu to view your history of the last few undoable moves. Note that it is possible to undo in time before your most recent Save, so use this feature with caution!

Undo History

The History menu even includes a timestamp for convenience.

Reverting changes

Choosing 'Revert To Saved...' from the File menu will undo all changes since you opened or last saved the file.

Utilizing Time Machine

If working with Macintosh systems with Time Machine, remember that it should be primarily considered emergency backup, and that you still would want to periodically gather assets and projects for further archiving.

Saving periodically

It is good to 'Save As...' occasionally to keep an archived version of the project. The newly saved project will then be active, so either re-open the original, or instead, within the new saved project name increase a version number and continue working.

Locking and Unlocking Content

Ultimate License Only. A screensaver can contain two completely different presentations. Which sequence plays depends on the "locking" status of the screensaver. As the screensaver author, you can control the locking behavior of the screensaver, and generate individual keycodes to unlock the screensaver. For example, a common use for this is to provide a "teaser" or "demo" version of a screensaver that is unlocked for a while, then locks after a few days. You would then sell unlocking codes on your website through the online merchant of your choice.

//marketing intermission//
The Locking features are advanced enough to require our Ultimate iScreensaver License, but they come with the incredible advantage of being able to market or sell upgraded screensavers to your existing users with their own personalized keycodes. For our unregistered customers, don't forget - try it before you buy it!
We think you'll love it.
//end marketing intermission//

Using the Locking tab

You can test all locking features without purchasing the software. However, until an Ultimate license is purchased, all "unlocked" sequences will be watermarked. The Locking tab allows editing of the locking behavior: set the initial state, set time- and use-based changes. Edit the type of unlocking codes provided, and set a URL hyperlinks for customers to find your website. And, of course, you can edit the content of the unlocked sequence.
But first you have to turn it on.

To enable the locking features:

  1. From the Project window, do one of the following:
    - In the toolbar, choose the Locking icon.
    - Select Locking > Locking Settings from the Project menu.
  2. Click the Use Locking checkbox.

    The toolbar transforms to show two separate Video and Audio sequences, and the Locking subtab edit panes are now available. Any sequence in the project at the time of enabling locking will be considered Sequence 1 and remain on the left side of the toolbar.
Using Locking features
Using Locking features

If locking is ever disabled in a project (either accidentally or on purpose), Sequence 1 will become the main sequence, and while the Sequence 2 data will remain a part of the project, none of it will be built into the installers. Re-enabling Locking will restore the separate sequences to the project.

Tip:

Using the Behavior subtab

When using Locking features, a screensaver is in either one of two states: Sequence 1 or Sequence 2. This status controls which audio/video presentation the user will see. The behavior subtab is where you control the switching behaviors. It's very flexible : you can have the screensaver start on either sequence, and change on a certain date, or after a certain number of uses or hours of runtime. Do you want the user to see the unlocked presentation first, or not until they've paid? Do you even wish for them to know about it at all? It's your choice when to drop the drawbridge of commerce.

Defaults are Initial State: Sequence 1, Reminders: On, and No Automatic Change in Behavior.

The Lock tab, Behaviors

Initial State

Determines the sequences used for previewing and installing. Sequence 1 is on the left side of the Locking icon, while Sequence 2 is on the right side. Whichever sequence is chosen is what the end user will first see when previewing or installing the screensaver.

Unlocking Reminder

The Reminder dialog can be disabled from alerting the user to the alternate content. Without this reminder, the only indication of further content is the Lock icon in the Control Panel. Clicking the Lock icon opens the Unlocking Reminder dialog.

Show during installation

Before installation begins, the user can be notified that there is extra content.

Show after wake-up

Each time the screensaver wakes from sleep, the Reminder dialog alerts the user of extra content. The user can postpone the reminder for another time in the future.

Behavior

The screensaver can switch from one sequence to the other automatically:

No Change

It stays as it lays. Fairly self-explanatory - the screensaver will never switch from its initial state on its own. Note that if the user enters an unlocking code, this will change the state.

Change After : Hours of Use

Switches after a pre-determined amount of hours used. These hours are tallied during normal operation of the screensaver, and do not include previewing during installation, nor testing from the Control Panel.

Change After : Uses

Switches after a pre-determined number of uses. These uses are tallied during normal operation of the screensaver, by actually triggering the screensaver via hot corners or system timeouts, and do not include previewing during installation, nor testing from the Control panels.

Change After : Days After Installation

Switches at a pre-determined number of days after the user first installs the screensaver.

Change On: Date and Time

Switches on a specific moment in time. Use an ISO date-time string in the following format: 'YYYY-MM-DDD HH:MM:SS'. This is determined by the local date and time on the end user's machine.

Tips:


Using the Keys subtab

When an end-user's screensaver is locked, they should have a way to unlock it again. This is what a unlocking key (also called "Keycode") is used for. As the author, you can provide these keycodes for free, or sell them, or provide them as a reward for some other consumer behavior. It's your choice.

There are two types of key codes: a Key List and a Key Generator. The Key List is simpler: just generate a short (or long) list of passwords. Every password will unlock the screensaver. There is no "username" required. The Key Generator provides an algorithm so you can generate unique user/password combinations after distribution has begun. However, the type of key code must be chosen when built, prior to distribution.

The Lock tab, Keys

Built-in code list

A series of keycode words, phrases, codes, or numbers, that are built into the installer. These codes are present in the screensaver file, but are encrypted and hashed for security. Add them one at a time, or import through a standard text file list. You can also copy/paste from Excel or a text document.

The Key List

The Copy button

Copies all selected keycodes to the clipboard. Then paste into a third party text editor.

The Paste button

Pastes from the clipboard to the list.

The Delete - button

Remove selected keycodes from the list.

The Add + button

Add a new keycode to the list.

Tips:

Post-distribution key generation

The other method is to use the built-in key generator. Using this method, the end user must provide BOTH a username AND keycode to unlock the screensaver. The screensaver has a built in code validator that checks the user/password code using a secure algorithm. This algorithm is based on the "Secret Project Key" field. This gives you flexibility : you could issue five different screensavers that all have the same secret project key -- in this case one user/key combination would unlock all five screensavers. Or, you can re-release a new copy of the screensaver after changing the secret key, which would invalidate all prior keycodes.

The Key Generator

User Name

To issue an unlocking code using the generator, just type the username into this field. A good choice is the user's email address since this is unique, but you can use another username if you have a website, etc.

Unlocking Key

The keycode will be generated automatically as an encrypted combinatio of the User Name and the Screensaver ID Seed. Simply copy and paste this to an email and send to your user. With they enter the User Name and the Keycode, the screensaver will unlock.

Secret Project Key

The secret ID code for the project. Usually, it's best to leave it the same seed for the life of the project, however by changing it, new distributions would be immune to previous keycodes. Use the Unlock button to change the secret project key.

The Unlock button

Unlock the Screensaver ID text field with the Unlock button. With a warning...

The Seed Change Warning

Tips:


Using the Reminder subtab

When using the Locking features, think carefully about the information included in this Unlocking Reminder dialog, as this will make an impression on the end-user's decision to visit your website for more information and/or to purchase a keycode.

The Lock tab, Customize

Title

Setting For Windows Only:
Under Windows, this displays as a separate dialog window, thus needs a proper title for the titlebar. On Mac OS X this is displayed as a "sheet" window that has no titlebar.

To set the unlocking window Titlebar:

  1. Do one of the following:
    - On the Customize tab, click the 'Title: Edit' button.
    - On the View mockup, click within the Menu Bar area.
  2. Type the unlocking window name.
  3. Do one of the following:
    - Press 'Enter'.
    - Click outside the text field.

About

Enter a description for the special content of your screensaver in this text field. Since one aspect of cross-platform application creation is that the system fonts used on the varying platforms do not use exactly the same leading and kerning, please see our examples to view the differences between Windows and Macintosh system fonts.

To set the unlocking description:

  1. Do one of the following:
    - On the Customize tab, click the 'About: Edit' button.
    - On the View mockup, click within the About text area.
  2. Type the unlocking information.
  3. Do one of the following:
    - Press 'Enter'.
    - Click outside the text field.

Web

Users can click on this link that can take them to whatever web page you'd like them to visit for learning about your keycode arrangements, with the page opening within an external web browser. You do not have to show the URL to your web page, but can have some nice descriptive text instead.

To edit the unlocking website information:

  1. On the Controls tab, click and hold on 'Web Site: Edit' to access the pop-up menu.
  2. Do one of the following:
    - Click 'Edit Text' to change the description that appears on-screen.
    - Click 'Edit URL' to change the URL of the actual page that is opened in the user's external web browser.
    - Click 'Test Link' to check the URL in your external web browser.

Understanding Locking Behaviors

You have playing one of two sequences - the locked sequence or the unlocked sequence, called Sequence 1 and 2. Either can be set to start-up upon install, and it is optional to switch to the other after some duration, amount of use, or at a particular time and day. So you can offer your end users a tease to your unlocked content that locks after so much viewing time.

Initial states

As a default, the locked sequence will preview and playback, until a code has been entered for the unlocked sequence. It shall never switch automatically without a code.

User-switched changes

With a keycode, the end user can switch sequences. They can remove the keycode and re-lock the screensaver, if so desired.

Example: your screensaver is promoting a special VIP party and everyone gets the screensaver invite, but a select few receive the mysterious keycode.

Duration-related changes

After a certain amount of time viewing the screensaver, the sequence can switch to the other.

Example: your screensaver is offering a sneak peek at your unlocked content, but after 3 hours of use, it switches to the locked sequence, thus your end user would need a keycode to return.

Date-related changes

At a particular moment, the screensaver switches sequences, based on your user's local time and date.

Example: your screensaver is advertising a movie opening and the screensaver is to switch from a teaser-trailer to the final trailer upon the day of release.

Key Query Moments

There are a few times when the screensaver will ask the end user for their keycode. The user can skip this with no consequence if they are not in possession of the keycode at the time.

During installation

The installer will ask the end user if they would like to enter a keycode during installation. The user can skip entering any keycode at this time.

After use

The screensaver will open its Control Panel and ask the end user after every use. The user can can skip entering any keycode at this time. In addition, they can ask to not be notified again for a time period (from one hour to one month).

After user delay

If the user had selected a reminder delay, and that time has passed, then after the next wakeup it will ask again.

Creating Keys

Keys consist of either a list or a seed generator. Only one method will be used in building an installer.

Key List

Don't be obvious with creating your list of codes. Use unicode if your end user machines will all support different languages, though remember that unicode is difficult to type for many users.

Writing codes

Keep track of any codes that you create within a built installer. In making keycodes, use a system, but not one that could be guessed outright. Be sure to copy out a full list of your available keycodes when building an installer for distribution.

Importing codes

Any carriage-return-separated list can be imported into the Key List, so if you use FileMaker, Microsoft Excel, or a SQL database, that data can be pasted into the Key List.

Key Generation

Use a Secret Project Key seed that cannot easily be guessed.

Advertising Keys

The end user will need to know how to go about finding themselves the special advanced screensaver keys. When they click the lock button in the Control Panel, the Registration panel will pop-up, with space for information about your extra content, web links, and a location to enter their keys.

Code retrieval information

A unicode text field is available to announce your special content and explain how to obtain a screensaver keycode.

Web links

Place the URL to your webpages to obtain further information. There is an option to re-word the link text.

Code entry locations

Your end user will enter their name and key to switch over to the expanded content. The keys are generated on the Key subtab of the project's Locking tab.

Security

How secure is secure? Most able-bodied hackers can find their way into anything. We protect what is possible, but no security is absolutely foolproof. It just cannot be honestly promised by any software company. The keycode protection in iScreensaver should be considered "lightweight" security -- it is intended to discourage theft for the casual user, but will certainly not stand up to a determined hacker.

Reducing the consequence of stolen keycodes

A determined hacker could eventually find the keycode to your screensaver. If you are worried about this you can use the following strategy: Re-issue your screensaver every week (or day, or month) with a new Key List or new Key Code Generator Secret Project Key. This way, if someone does guess or hack a key, that key will only be usable with screensavers downloaded for a short period (day, week, month) etc. This strategy will not prevent stolen codes, but will reduce the impact if/when that does happen.

Media Security

Media assets within iScreensaver are not encrypted or protected with DRM (Digital Rights Management). This means that a determined hacker can get access to the media files (SWF, Movies, Images) included in the screensaver. Also, remember that it doesn't take a hacker: anything that can be displayed on a computer screen or played through the speakers can be captured. If this is an issue, we suggest you consider issuing reduced resolution versions of your assets, and/or using watermarking or other methods to tag your media to reduce its value.

Branding Control Panels

To 'brand' a screensaver is to create value and uniqueness through the human psychological symbolic construct of positive experience with the product.

In other words, make it yours, but make it good.

Using the Controls tab

The Controls tab allows you to give your screensaver some personality - a name, a graphic image, some descriptive text, and a website that users can click on to reach your site. Plus it customizes all the features of the users' Control Panel in a 'What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get' format. Switch between the 'Options', 'Screens', and 'Info' tabs to adjust all the initial settings. Change the 'View as :' to see how your screensaver control panel will look under Macintosh and Windows operating systems.

The Controls tab

View As

Change the WYSIWYG look to any of the supported iScreensaver platforms.

Title

The screensaver name, that appears as both a selectable screensaver in the lists found in Mac's System Preferences or Window's Control Panels and as the title of the screensaver options' controls dialog, is set here. This is not the same name as the Installers or Saver/SCR files (those are set on the Share tab).

To set the screensaver name:

  1. Do one of the following:
    - On the Controls tab, click the 'Title: Edit' button.
    - On the View mockup, click within the Menu Bar area.
  2. Type the screensaver name.
  3. Do one of the following:
    - Press 'Enter'.
    - Click outside the text field.

Editing the Options tab

The author can set the initial user setting regarding the on-screen display controls, and the other settings are available to the end user after installation.

The Controls tab, User Options

Screensaver Interaction

Allows some use of on-screen playback controls by the user during Sleep Mode, however requires the screensaver to ignore other mouse movements. These controls include audio mute, play controls, and jumping to any other asset. Default is unchecked, not showing the on-screen controls.

Keyboard Options

If cursors are available, then the end user can use the keyboard's left and right arrow keys to move between assets in the sequence. Also, the keyboard's spacebar can exit or to set to pause playback and freeze motion effects, and the 'Return' key can exit or open the Go-To item selection menu.

Mouse & Trackpad controls

If cursors are available, then the end user can use the mouse or trackpad to sweep in small motions to instantly exit screensaver playback.

Editing the Screens tab

The Controls tab, Screens

Screen Selection

The user can enable which screens will be used for screensaver playback. Dis-enabled screens will go black. This area will display individual computer's potential displays.

Volume

For screensavers with audio, this control slides to the left for quiet and the right for loud, and can be set even without audio content being present. Volume only adjusts the screensaver audio in relation to system volume settings, thus if the system volume is off, then so will be the screensaver volume. Authors can pre-set the suggested volume for end users.

Mute

Only necessary for screensavers that have audio. This can also be toggled from the on-screen display controls.

Editing the Info tab

This contains the first level of support information that your end user may possibly see, so best foot forward. Unregistered users of the iScreensaver software can edit this text, but the default text will always be displayed alongside any edited text until software purchase and registration.

The Controls tab, Info

Picture

This is the control panel picture for your screensaver. It is recommended to create your splash screen at 392x120 pixels, and to save it using the PNG format, though any JPG still image format will also work. If you use a file that is a different size, it will be automatically resized to fit to 392x120 pixels and converted to PNG file format.

Some ask, why 392x120 pixels? We say, as the breadth of two oxen led to the width both of rails and of roads, the historical After Dark splash screens were always set at 392x120 and, at least for our world, for now, that's honorable enough for us.

To set the screensaver splash screen picture:

About

Enter a description of the content of your screensaver in this text field. Since one aspect of cross-platform application creation is that the system fonts used on the varying platforms do not use exactly the same leading and kerning, please see our examples to view the differences between Windows and Macintosh system fonts.

To set the screensaver description:

  1. Do one of the following:
    - On the Controls tab, click the 'About: Edit' button.
    - On the View mockup, click within the About text area.
  2. Type the screensaver name.
  3. Do one of the following:
    - Press 'Enter'.
    - Click outside the text field.

Web

Users can click on this link that can take them to whatever web page you'd like them to visit, with the page opening within an external web browser. You do not have to show the URL to your web page, but can have some nice descriptive text instead.

To edit the website information:

  1. On the Controls tab, click and hold on 'Web Site: Edit' to access the pop-up menu.
  2. Do one of the following:
    - Click 'Edit Text' to change the description that appears on-screen.
    - Click 'Edit URL' to change the URL of the actual page that is opened in the user's external web browser.
    - Click 'Test Link' to check the URL in your external web browser.

Unlocked Content

If you created a locked screensaver, this button will appear on the user's Control Panel. When the user clicks the button in the screensaver control panel, it will bring up the Unlock Dialog where they can enter your secret Unlock Code and replace the original screensaver with your special alternative one. You must purchase an 'Ultimate' License to make locked content. Please see the 'Locking & Unlocking' chapter for more information.

Customizing Installers

The Installer tab allows you to give your screensaver installer some personality - a name, a graphic image, and some descriptive and/or licensing text. Plus it customizes the features in a 'What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get' format. Change the 'View as :' to see how your screensaver installer will look under Macintosh and Windows operating systems.

Using the Installer tab

The Installer tab

View As

Change the WYSIWYG look to any of the supported iScreensaver platforms.

Title

The screensaver installer name, that appears in the menu bar title for all platforms, is set here. This is not the same name as the Installers or Saver/SCR files (those are set in the Share tab).

To set the screensaver name:

  1. Do one of the following:
    - On the Installer tab, click the 'Title: Edit' button.
    - On the View mockup, click within the Menu Bar area.
  2. Type the screensaver name.
  3. Do one of the following:
    - Press 'Enter'.
    - Click outside the text field.

Picture

This is the installer picture for your screensaver. It is recommended to create your splash screen at 392x120 pixels, and to save it using the PNG format, though any acceptable QuickTime still image format will work. If you use a file that is a different size, it will be automatically resized to fit to 392x120 pixels and converted to PNG format.

Some ask, why 392x120 pixels? As we've stated before, "as the breadth of two oxen led to the width both of rails and of roads, the historical After Dark splash screens were always set at 392x120 and, at least for our world, for now, that's honorable enough for us."

To set the installer splash screen picture:

  1. Do one of the following:
    - On the Installer tab, click the 'Picture: Edit' button and choose a picture file from the File browser.
    - From the desktop, drag and drop a picture file into the View mockup's splash screen area.

About

As a default, this is filled with the license agreement between the makers of iScreensaver and the end user. It is possible to edit and change this section to reflect your own legal agreements with the end user, however you must comply with our license agreement. Enter a description of the content or licensing and legal text of your screensaver in this scrolling text field (or of whatever initial information you wish to share with the user before they install your screensaver). Unregistered users of iScreensaver can edit this text, but the default text will always be displayed alongside any edited text.

Since one aspect of cross-platform application creation is that the system fonts used on the varying platforms do not use exactly the same leading and kerning, please see our examples to view the differences between Windows and Macintosh system fonts. However since this text field automatically scrolls, differences are not as crucial as other text fields in the application.

To edit the installer description:

  1. Do one of the following:
    - On the Installer tab, click the 'About: Edit' button.
    - On the View mockup, click within the About text area.
  2. Edit the About text.
  3. Do one of the following:
    - Press 'Enter'.
    - Click outside the text field.

Building Installers

To get a cross-platform-created screensaver on to an end-user's system requires hundreds of files, libraries to be copied, and many OS-level settings to be changed. It's not something the average user can do by hand. For this reason, an "Installer" is used. An Installer is software that automates this process. Fortunately, iScreensaver Designer creates Installers for you. More importantly, iScreensaver Designer is the only tool which does this cross-platform work for you. You can edit your screensaver on Mac and create a Screensaver Installer for Windows. And vice-versa. Cool. Here we describe how to do this.

For help installing a screensaver, see Installing a Screensaver.

For help with distributing screensavers, see Distributing Screensaver Installers.

The Share tab is where you actually build the screensaver installers. First, of course, you might want to name the files, provide customized icons, and create a personalized license agreement. You have the option of adding a custom Wallpaper desktop background, and specifying which versions of OpenGL and Flash will be the minimum necessary for your users' machines. Also if not yet completed, links for easy registration of your copy of iScreensaver are available.

Using the Share tab

On the Builds tab you can set general information (such as your Author's name), select which platform(s) to build, and start a build for all selected platforms.

Using the Builds subtab

The Build tab

Registering iScreensaver

The screensaver software will only function in Demo Mode until a valid registration code has been entered. The current registration status and registration name are shown.

Setting an Author Name

Most operating systems will mention an author or publisher of the application when getting information on the file properties, and this text field can be customized for an author's clients, if any. This is an editable field with the Ultimate License.

Please note that this is not the same as a Software Publisher Certificate, as seen with Windows' User Access Control warnings upon software install. Purchasing a software certificate requires involvement with Microsoft-authorized third party software security companies.

See more information about this topic at Microsoft:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff552299.aspx


The Publishing information warning

Unfortunately, users are fairly used to seeing unknown Software Publisher Certificates.

Exporting to all platforms

It is easy to quickly build installers for all checkboxed platforms using the 'Build All' button on the master Builds tab.

Exporting to single platforms

Each platform can be individually built from their individual platform tabs.

Using the Mac subtab

The Build tab, Mac

Using the Win subtab

The Build tab, Win

Customizing the Install

File names

Zip

An option to automatically compress the installers into simple cross-platform-transportable formats for use on a website, sending through email, or moving across platforms. For Macintosh, it is checked on by default. For Windows, we recommend leaving this option off, as, in most cases, the Single-File EXE is an easier solution for user installation. Enable this either if you have file sizes, or if the installer itself is, larger than 2GB in size.

Make Single File EXE

The Windows default option to automatically compress the installer within a self-extracting installer, for use on a website, sending through email, or moving across platforms. We recommend leaving this option on as it saves the installer into a single-file format, making a very end-user-friendly experience. Disable this if you have a different distribution procedure, are testing installers on your local machine, or restricted by 2GB size limits. The single-file installer icon will be resized to a OS-limited 48x48 pixels.

Checking Plug-in versions

When the end-user previews, installs, or runs the screensaver, it will automatically check for needed plugins (Flash or OpenGL). As the author, you can enable/disable these checks, and change the minimum version number required. Blank out the field to disable checking for that plug-in.

During installation, if the minimum version number is not found, the user will be asked to install the free download and/or upgrade from the Adobe web site. This process is well-guided and will return the user to the iScreensaver installer when they are done. OpenGL Drivers are a bit more complex, as each vendor has their own. There is a link in the Tips for more information on OpenGL updating.

Use the "Now" button to find the plugin versions currently on your authoring machine. You can copy these values to the edit fields. Note that with old operating systems, the plugin versions may not be what you are currently using, and it is easily possible for your content to be played on much earlier plug-in versions, without need for a recent update. Also remember that the end users are allowed to skip these installs (they are warned to not do this, but they are not prevented from doing so). This of course may compromise how the screensaver functions.

Tips:

Icons

These icons are used when the user downloads the screensaver installer. To create an icon, make a 512x512 pixel file with the desired icon art and transparency masks, and save it in PNG-24 format. Click 'Edit' on the icon you desire to change, and then select the file with your new icon art.

Please note that Windows systems are limited in size to 256x256 pixel icons, and can only save 128x128 pixel icons for Macintosh installers. If the icon must include a large Mac icon, we recommend moving and rebuilding the project on a Mac machine, or use a more complex technical procedure for inserting a larger icon into the Macintosh installer. You can still use original artwork sized at 512x512 pixels in Designer on either platform, and it will be sized as best it can.

Thumbnail

Macintosh allows customized icons in the System Preferences' Display &: Screensaver pane. The exact size is 180x116 pixels, but any image can be scaled to fit.

Wallpaper

You can choose an image to be included as a desktop background. Click on 'Edit' to select or delete a chosen image. Click on 'Test' to install or uninstall the image on your machine. The user will have the option whether to install the Wallpaper or not during installation.

Finding the Installers

The fastest way to find the newly created installers is by the Reveal buttons on either the master Builds or individual platform tabs.

Testing the Installer

It's possible to immediately test the installer, after building, from the Install buttons on the individual platform tabs. Of course, you can only test a screensaver on the same platform that you are building on... (the multi-platform build features of iScreensaver are cool, but they aren't magic!)

Code-signing, Gatekeeper, and Authenticode

The latest Macintosh and Windows operating systems have strengthened their developer security systems. This has changed how third party developers, such as iScreensaver, approach creating applications, and how our professional screensaver authors must adapt to their new security systems. [an error occurred while processing this directive]

Distributing your Screensaver Installer

Once you have built a screensaver, you will need to get it to others for testing and eventually for final distribution to your end users, customers, or clients.

Make sure to test the final installers, both before any distribution steps AND after placing them in the final location, before announcing their presence to your end users.

Windows:
Common Unzipping Problems & Solutions

Please note that iScreensaver Designer has a solution for most all of Windows' 'Most Common Problem' with zipping files. Update and rebuild your projects with the Single File EXE option checked. Use the resulting self-extracting installer file for all distribution.

Self-Extracting Installer

The majority of all screensavers can be built with the new single-file self-extracting Installer option.

  1. The Most Common Problem:
    In order to run installers made with the Zip option, the files must be un-zipped first. There is a bug in some third-party Zip programs (such as WinZip) where it will attempt to run the EXE from within the Zip file without first extracting it. This will bring up a cryptic error.

    Solutions:
    1. Remind your users to always choose "Extract All" for the Zip file before attempting to install the software.
    2. Make the files available on fixed media (DVD, CD, Thumb Drive), or via a network filesystem.
    3. Instead of delivering a Zip file, create a "Self Extracting EXE" file by using a free third-party installer toolkit:
    4. Use iScreensaver Designer with built-in self-extracting screensaver installer, then rebuild your projects.

  2. Large filesizes:
    If either the overall installer or any individual file size exceeds 2GB, then these cannot be used with a single-file EXE. Either reduce the file sizes, or build with just the Zip option checked and follow the 'Most Common Solutions.'

  3. Managed Installations / Active Directory Installs:
    If you are an IT department or SysAdmin, you can push out a managed installation of iScreensaver. This is a highly technical process for professionals only, and there are some best practices and hints for them in the section below on 'Managed networks' installations.

Tips:

Delivering through Email

Just attach the installer .zip files to an email. Most email providers can handle files up to about 10MB to 20MB in size, but will reject larger files. If so, consider a third-party service such as: DropBox, YouSendIt, or try googling "sending large emails."

Delivering from a Web Server Download

This is the best way to distribute your screensavers. No physical object to be manufactured, installer updates can be instantaneously available world-wide, and over the years, the process has only gotten easier to do. Things you will need include:

Hosting your web page

Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers -- the people that you pay to access the Internet via Dial Up Modem, DSL, or Cable Modem) provide a rudimentary homepage service along with your account, for example, here are some information pages about hosting for various ISPs:

If you don't yet have an ISP, or you want a more professional service, you may want to check out some of these companies which offer inexpensive hosting:

Compressing your Installer file

In order to save space, reduce download time, and insure compatibility, you may want to Compress the file before uploading it to the web site. By default, iScreensaver already has done this step for you, creating compressed files within the Installers folder.

Windows:

Creating a self-extracting archive is now default behavior when building with iScreensaver, but if that process was turned off, the manual steps include:

Macintosh:
This zipping is default behavior when building with iScreensaver, but if that process was turned off, the manual steps include:

Tips:

Uploading the Installers

There are many ways to upload the installer program to the web, and the method you use will depend entirely on your hosting service (see above). The most common ways are HTTP upload and FTP.

Creating Web Links

Finally, you will need to create a link on your web page that, when clicked, will automatically download the Installer program. If you are not a HTML code programmer, check with your ISP, the w3schools training site, or the w3.org for hints and techniques for setting up your website.

Delivering on CD-rom/DVD-roms

If you have built a screensaver and are trying to make it available via CD or DVD, these instructions should be useful. Please note that this is a rather technical process using some archaic knowledge of hybrid disc formats, and may require third party software. Most modern computers do not even arrive with a media drive at all anymore. For these reasons, we can not provide further technical support for this process. We recommend the simpler, and more versatile web-based distribution, if at all possible.

Creating Windows-format CDs or DVDs from a Windows computer

If you are using Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Build your screensaver, and locate the new Installer file.
  2. Insert a blank CD-R (or DVD-R) into your machine.
  3. Copy the single-file installer ("My Screensaver.EXE") to the disc,
    or
    From the Installers/Windows/Install folder, copy both the screensaver installer file ("My Screensaver.EXE") and the Libs folder ("My Screensaver Libs") to the disc. Note that the EXE and Libs folder must be next to each other.
  4. Burn the disc and eject it.
  5. Test the disc on another machine : Insert the disc, open the disc icon, and double-click the EXE file to start the installer.
  6. If you need QuickTime, consider including QuickTime on the disc by special licensing from Apple Inc.: QuickTime Licensing Info.

Creating Macintosh-format CDs or DVDs from a Macintosh computer

If you are using Mac OS X, follow these steps:

  1. Build your screensaver, and locate the new Installer file.
  2. If you have built it on a Windows machine, copy the .ZIP file to a Macintosh, and un-zip it by double-clicking it.
  3. Insert a blank CD-R (or DVD-R) into your machine.
  4. Copy the screensaver Installer file ("Install 'My' Screensaver.app") to the disc.
  5. Burn the disc and eject it.
  6. Test the disc on another machine : Insert the disc, open the disc icon, and double-click the installer file to start the installer.

Creating Hybrid discs: Basic Method (Requires Mac OS X)

Mac OS X can now burn cross-platform discs that will work in both Mac and Windows PCs. These steps provide a simple way of accomplishing this task. If you need more control over the finished CD or DVD, or if you are on a Windows-only PC, read the Advanced Method below.

  1. Build your screensaver installers.
  2. If you built the Macintosh saver on a Windows PC, it will be in ".zip" format. Copy this file to a Macintosh, double-click it to unzip the file, leaving you with a normal mac app file (e.g. "Install 'My' Screensaver.app") .
  3. Insert a blank CD-R (or DVD-R).
  4. Copy the installer files to the disc. Remember that the single-file Windows installer will end in ".EXE", but if building with the Zip option, then in the Installers/Windows/Install folder the bare Windows installer also ends in ".EXE" and also includes a separate "Libs" folder - you just need the first EXE, or both the second EXE and Libs folder. The Mac installer will end in ".app". You may want to put them in separate "Windows" and "Macintosh" folders to avoid confusion for the end user. If you aren't seeing the filename extensions, then do this: Go to the Finder, choose "Preferences" from the Finder menu, and make sure "Show All Filename Extensiosn" is checked.
  5. Burn the disc and eject it.
  6. Test the disc on both a Macintosh computer and a Windows PC : Insert the disc, open the disc icon, and double-click the proper installer file (the .app one for Macintosh, the .exe one for Windows) to start the installer.

Creating Hybrid discs: Advanced Method (Either platform)

  1. Build your screensaver installers.
  2. Obtain CD/DVD Mastering software:
    For Macintosh, we recommend Roxio's Toast.
    For Windows, we recommend CDEveryWhere or MacDisk for Windows.
  3. Create a hybrid disc that contains both a Mac and Windows partition. Here are some sample instructions that may assist:
  4. Simplify installation for your end users:
    For Windows, following instructions can set an "AutoRun" or "AutoStart" feature to automatically start the screensaver installer when the disc is inserted.
    For Macintosh, this feature has been disabled as of Mac OS X for security reasons. However following instructions, the window can automatically open instead.
  5. For Windows screensavers, if you are using QuickTime, consider including QuickTime on the disc: QuickTime Licensing Info.

Distribution across a managed network

This section requires advanced system IT practices - it is not for the novice author.

Windows System IT Administrators sometimes wish to run a automated install of screensaver installations across multiple machines in a managed (as an Active Directory or Group Policy) network. In order to manage this process, some steps require Microsoft software and perhaps Microsoft technical support.

To prepare for a managed install, first on a single PC:

  1. If you haven't done so already, upgrade to iScreensaver Designer 5 and re-build your screensaver.
  2. On a test machine that you have an Administrator account, log in, and copy the installation folder to this machine.
  3. Install the saver using the EXE installer file using the "Install for All Users" option.
  4. This will put Two items (a .SCR file and a LIBS folder) into your C:\WINDOWS folder. For example:
    C:\Windows\MyScreensaver.scr and C:\Windows\MyScreensaver Libs\
    The process will also set some registry keys.
  5. If you want to set per-computer screensaver options (such as audio volume, or the use of the HUD), then open the screensaver control panel, click "Settings" and set your desired options. Close the control panel.
  6. Verify that the screensaver functions normally.

To roll out the screensaver system-wide:

  1. Create an Active Directory install process which does the following things:
    - Places the two items (the .SCR file and the LIBS folder prepared above) in C:\WINDOWS (or the equivalent WIN32 folder as per your configuration). Important: do not rename either the SCR or the Libs folder, as they reference each other by name. If you need them named differently, change the name in your .ISC project file in iScreensaver Designer, and re-build the screensaver, then start over with preparing for a managed install.
    - Selects the SCR as the currently selected screensaver by setting the registry key:
    HKCU/Desktop/SCRNSAVE.EXE=C:\WINDOWS\MYSAVER.SCR
  2. Adjust the path to match your installation. note that this path MUST be the short (8.3) format path, even on Vista/Win7-Win10. You may also want to Shadow the system.ini value as well.
    See http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms815030.aspx
    and http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/gp/130.asp
  3. If you want to set screensaver-specific registry values (see "Settings" above) then also copy the appropriate registry keys you chose into:
    HKCU/Software/iScreensaver/myScreensaverName/

  4. Additional necessary permissions:

  5. The screensaver needs access to the IE rendering engine. JavaScript must be enabled.
  6. The screensaver needs read / write access to the %tmp% folder during operation.
  7. If Flash content is included, access to its plugins must be allowed.
  8. Anti-virus software must not block the operation.
  9. QuickStart Guide

    Enough with the what does what and why, get to the how?

    OK, let's go. If you've been through the manual from the beginning already, then you've seen elements of the QuickStart Guide, but it doesn't hurt to refresh.
    Before, we said that these were the basics:

    "...drag-n-drop your asset files into a new project. Drag them around to re-order them. Use the Info palette and Preview window to test options. Build your installer with the Share controls. Install, and wait for sleep..."

    ...so let's start:

    Using the Application

    When iScreensaver first opens, you'll be presented with a Projects List window (A), where you can create a new screensaver or open a sample one. Upon opening a project, a Project window (B) will appear, with Video and Audio sections wherein you can drag-and-drop media files, to import the files into the sequence. A Preview stage (C) and an Info palette (D) can both be opened to edit the per-sequence and per-item settings. Use the "Run Full Screen" command from the Preview menu to test your screensaver. Once you are happy with the sequencing, you'll want to build the screensaver Installer. Customize the screensaver installer on the Control Panel and Installer Tabs. Then use the Share Tab to create your Mac and Windows screensaver installers.


    Overview of Application Windows

    A: The Projects List window: Open a recent project, or start a new one.
    B: The Project window: Edit your screensaver sequences and customize the software.
    C: The Preview stage: View your screensaver as you edit.
    D: The Info palette: Edit per-sequence and per-item settings.

    Many of our User Manuals' images are Mac-based, but Windows works the exact same way, unless noted.



    Creating a New Project

    To start a new screensaver project:

    • Do one of the following:
      - Click the 'New' button.
      - Select New from the File menu.
      - On Macintosh, type Command-N.
      - On Windows, type Control-N.

    A new project window will open.

    Creating a New Project

    Choose New from the File menu.



    Naming a New Project

    When you create a new project, you'll be asked for a name. This name will be used in various places; the project name, the control panel title, the locking dialogs, the installers, and the screensaver and installer filenames. You can also skip this step, or turn this feature off from within the Preferences. You can always edit these text strings later.

    To create and name a new screensaver project:

    1. Do one of the following:
      - Click the 'New' button.
      - Select New from the File menu.
      - On Macintosh, type Command-N.
      - On Windows, type Control-N.
    2. A new project window will open, and the wizard will ask for your new screensaver name.
    3. Enter a name, and click the OK button.
    Naming a New Project

    Choose Skip to not auto-fill any names.


    So, What Does The Wizard Do Exactly?

    The wizard places your 'name' in the following locations, using 'Space':

    Naming a New Project
    • Project name:
      Naming a New Project
    • Controls window title bar:
      Naming a New Project
    • Installer window title bar:
      Naming a New Project
    • Build Macintosh file names:
      Naming a New Project
    • Build Windows file names:
      Naming a New Project
    • Locking Customize window title bar: (for Ultimate License users)
      Naming a New Project

    Tips:

    • No matter what name you used in the wizard, you can always edit everything later.
    • There is generally no need to name the screensaver with 'Screensaver' with the wizard (but that's a personal choice). It is automatically added to the installer name, but can be edited if you choose.
    • If you do not see the request for a name with a new project, check the Preferences, as it may be switched off.
    • Names can include Unicode (UTF-8) text, and should work on all supported operating systems, but only if the requested fonts are installed. In particular, Windows XP doesn't come with very many unicode fonts installed, so be sure to test thoroughly.
    • The wizard names the Project, but it does not automatically save the Project. Make sure to periodically save your projects.


    Importing Video assets

    You can import a single file, multiple files, or even a folder. When importing a folder, all sub-folders will be included. Files will only be imported if they are the proper video format. Use software such as Apple's QuickTime Player to prepare movies in the HTML5 cross-platform H.264 compression format. Any H.264 movies, Flash (SWF), and image files can be imported at the same time.

    To import video assets:

    • Do one of the following:
      - From the desktop, drag the files into the Video tab's Sequencing area.
      - Click the [+] button on the Project window, and select with the Open File browser window

    The assets will be automatically added as new items in the Sequence area.

    Tips:

    • Some media file formats require that third party decoders be installed on both the author's computer and on the end-user's computer. In Designer, only the optional Flash plugin is supported through automatic downloads.
    • On Windows OS, you can only select a single file in the File Open browser. To import multiple assets, drag-and-drop from Windows Explorer instead, or select a Folder containing multiple assets.
    • When importing a folder containing many items (more than 100), all items will be scanned, and you will be given a chance to confirm or cancel. HIt the ESC key to cancel the scanning process.


    Sequencing Video Items

    Video items can be rearranged within the Sequence when using either Thumbnail View or List View. Use standard selection keyboard short-cuts to choose multiple and non-contiguous assets. Items will play back in the order shown. However, if the sequence has the global "Shuffle" setting enabled, then the order will be randomized during playback.

    To change the order of video assets:

    1. In the Video tab, select any files to be moved by doing one of the following:
      - Click to select a single item.
      - Shift-click to select a contiguous set of items.
      - On Macintosh, command-click to select non-contiguous items.
      - On Windows, control-click to select non-contiguous items.
    2. Drag the items to the new location within the Sequence area.

    The items will then move into the new order.

    Tips:

    • In Thumb view, the actual sequence order is always as shown, even if shuffle is active.
    • In List view, the actual order is only accurate when you are sorted by the first column (the Item #). If you are sorting by a different column, then the current order will be the temporary sort order. To change the sort order in list view, click the 'Item #' column so that you are sorting by item number before re-ordering items.


    Arranging order

    Previewing the Screensaver

    Computers monitors come in all shapes and sizes. For this reason, you'll need to think about how your screensaver will look on a wide variety of screens. This is not a trivial task. iScreensaver helps you by providing the Preview Stage window which allows you to preview, in a WYSIWYG fashion, how the screensaver sequence will look at various screen sizes.

    Open the Preview stage by clicking the "Preview" button on the toolbar of the Project window. You can open one Preview stage for each project that is currently open.

    Preview stage

    The Info palette

    Sizing, locations, captions, overlays, duration, and compression are but a few of the options available through the Info palette. From a macro level to micro, the left to right order of toolbar icons scales from global settings (that apply to the entire sequence) to per-item settings, and finally to per-layer.

    Remember the hierarchy: a Screensaver consists of an Audio Sequence and a Video Sequence. A Sequence consists of one or more Items. Each Item consists of one or more Layers. Each Layer contains a single Asset.

    Info palette, icons

    Global

    Settings which affect an entire sequence, such as looping and shuffle.

    Behavior

    Options specific to each Sequence Item of a sequence, such as duration, layer disabling, and interactivity.

    Media

    Settings for the media layer: selecting the asset file, and adjusting playback location, audio volume, and others [Video Sequence Only] such as background color or masking, effect transitions, and file compression.

    Caption

    Settings for the caption layer: Styled text display. [Video Sequence only]

    Overlay

    Settings for the overlay layer: Picture display on-screen. [Video Sequence only]



    Building the screensaver

    On the master Share tab, you can set the author's name, and build screensaver installer for one or more platforms. Just select the platforms you wish to build, then click the 'Build' button.

    Build tab

    To build your new screensaver:

    1. On the Build tab, click the 'Build All' button.
    2. Your screensaver installer will build.
    3. On the Build Progess dialog, click the 'Details' disclosure triangle for build details and progress. Pay special attention to any warnings or errors that are shown.
    4. The Build will end with a choice to reveal the newly-built folder on the hard drive. If you are building for the same OS that you are using, you can also choose to install the new screensaver on your computer.


    Install Your Screensaver

    When the installer has been built, click on the 'Install' button.

    Build progress

    To install your new screensaver:

    1. Wait while the Installer is being built.
    2. On the Build Progress dialog, click the 'Install' button.
    3. Your screensaver installer will open.
    4. On the installer, click the 'Install' button.
    5. Follow any on-screen instructions. When complete, the Install window will close and the Screen Saver Control Panel will open with your screensaver selected and ready to use.
    6. To start the screensaver, do one of the following:
      - On Windows, click the 'Preview' button.
      - On Macintosh, click the 'Preview' button.
      - If Hot Corners are in use, place the cursor in the hot corner.
      - Leave the computer alone for the time delay set in the controls.
    7. Your screensaver will start.
    Build tab Build tab


    Sample Projects

    Space

    The Space screensaver has examples of many of the advanced features possible in iScreensaver 4. High resolution OpenGL effects with custom 3D motions, locked and unlocked sequences, and the use of sequences including images, h.264 movies, and Flash (SWF) files.


    Overview

    Obtaining or creating your assets

    Archive.org, NASA.gov, and the BBC, for example, have various images and video clips available under various licenses. Copyright law is complex and differs from country to country, so be sure you have the rights you need to use any media assets. For many reasons, using your own work is often the best idea.

    For Space, we use sources at nasa.gov for images and videos in the public domain or with accredited usage, according to their terms of use. We do not claim copyright on the images, claim any sponsorship by NASA, nor otherwise explicitly or implicitly convey their endorsement or sponsorship. However, their hard work in obtaining these images from space is greatly appreciated.


    Preparing your assets

    A third-party application like GIMP or Adobe Photoshop can be invaluable in adjusting, cropping, or formatting your images. We have some artwork tips for creating images with transparent masks.

    Photoshop - Save for Web

    Adobe Photoshop's Save for Web feature can prepare icons and overlays.

    For Space, some images need touch-up in Adobe Photoshop. Planets and some incomplete spheres need alpha masks. The icon needs sizing at 512x512 pixels, with an alpha mask too.


    Organizing assets on disk / Setting up your folders

    By placing all included assets together in one folder, it becomes simpler to package together one project for archiving, once complete. Subfolders, such as for audio, overlay art, or video, also help separate the elements for future project revivals. Certainly, your folders can be named differently, or you can go without and import files from any local storage location.

    The Controls tab

    Place all project assets together in a simple folder structure.

    For Space, we created inside the 'iScreensaver Projects' folder: a single folder called 'Space', which holds the Space.isc project file, the installer icon.png file, a 'radio' folder for containing music files, and an 'assets' folder for containing all the images and movies. We have a list of credits for assets that require them. Eventually when we build the installers, the 'Installers' folder will appear inside the 'Space' folder.


    Folder Structure

    The Space folder structure.


    Creating a new project

    Open iScreensaver. The Projects list window will open.

    For Space, we create a new project, and use the wizard to name it 'Space', which places the name 'Space' throughout the project. We may want to change that later in places.

    Open iScreensaver

    Open iScreensaver to the Projects List. Select New.


    Name the Project

    Use the Wizard to auto-name the project, other filenames, and dialog titles.


    Before Saving the Project

    The project filename has been set, but has not been saved.


    Importing your video assets

    The easiest way to import is to drag and drop files or folders from the desktop.

    For Space, we drag-and-drop the 'assets' folder into iScreensaver's video sequence area of the new project.

    The Assets Folder

    Images collected and stored inside the assets folder.


    Drag and Drop Importing

    Drag and drop the assets folder to the sequence area.


    General Import Report

    Receive an Import Report where sometimes folders contain non-asset files.


    Importing your audio assets

    Not all screensavers need to have audio. Screensavers with audio sometimes find themselves quickly uninstalled. However we know audio has its benefits. The easiest way to import is to drag and drop files or folders from the desktop, but we've included an easy Add File button.

    For Space, we went silent - no audio.
    But if we were using audio, here's another way to import the files. Note that the Windows file browser only allows selection of single items, but Macintosh allows multiple at a time.

    Add Files

    Click the + button to add a file to the sequence.


    Add File

    Inside the assets folder, Windows allows one selection at a time.


    Audio Import

    The audio files appear in the list.


    Audio Sequence Settings

    If you have more than one audio file, try using shuffle.


    Arranging sequence patterns

    Items can be then moved around in the sequence area to adjust the order in which they are played, however order really doesn't matter in the case of shuffle.

    For Space, we are using 'Shuffle' so the sequence order does not matter, except for the first item, which we happen to always want playing first when the screensaver starts. We move our Earth image to the Item #1 position, and set our Video Sequence global settings.

    Reorder Sequence

    Move 'earth.jpg' to the starting position.


    Shuffle, First item first

    Start with first item, then shuffle upon every looped sequence.


    List View, Sort by Kind

    Set the Video sequence to List View, then click the column title to sort by Kind.


    Turn off image overlays

    Turn off Image Overlays for this particular screensaver.


    Write generic parts first

    Edit all the common caption information at the same time.


    Setting grouped settings

    It's easiest to edit all the 'common' settings at the same time, whether it be caption text, durations, or master control over overlays. Selecting multiple items allows you to change a lot of settings at once. Remember that List View can let you resort and select items quickly.

    For Space, we have two looping movie animations, plus we wish all images to last about 15 seconds, neither which are the default settings. By re-sorting in List View, we can choose a single file format to affect. Later, some items will be set different as we adjust them on an individual basis.

    Re-sort the list and select multiple items

    These two animated movies were created to seamlessly loop.


    Change the play count

    Either choose from the preset, or type '3' for the play count.


    Select just the images

    Use shift-click to select from a starting item to a ending item.


    Change the duration

    Either choose from the preset, or type '15' for the duration.


    Custom Effects

    Choose 'Custom...' from the preset. These parameters move images slowly towards the viewer, as if the camera was zooming in or falling into the stars.


    Setting individual settings

    Select each item individually to edit just its settings. The Preview window can help guide as you move through the sequence list one item at a time, as some individual images may need different settings for Display or Effects. If you find settings you'd like to transfer to other assets, the different attributes can be pasted separately. Hint: duplicating and re-using items in a sequence does not multiply the size of the final screensaver, so it's possible to have several motion effects for a single, but duplicated, asset.

    For Space, many imported images will default to JPG compression, while any images with alpha masks such as PNG, TIF, or Pict will be imported with Color Mask and Compression settings automatically set. Switch to Captions tab as needed to edit individual credits, or edit directly in List View (though items with various font styles may have their text normalized).

    The Preview Window

    Open the preview window to see individual effect changes.


    Different effect parameters

    Some images look better cropped to fit the screen...
    Some images look better letterboxed to fit within the screen.
    Different effect parameters slowly spin towards the viewer.


    Settings for PNGs with alpha masks

    Images with alpha masks import with automatic Color Mask and Compression settings.


    Edit in List View

    List View has another way to edit caption text.


    Creating an alternate sequence

    You can include a second sequence within the installer. It can be completely different than your first sequence, or can have subtle differences. Cut, copy, and paste assets across sequences. Again, duplicating and re-using items across sequences does not multiply the size of the final screensaver.

    For Space, the alternate sequence consists of just the motion effected images, removing the Flash and Movies and shortening the impact of caption text.

    Turn on locking

    Turn on the Locking features.


    Paste assets across sequences

    Copy and paste assets to the secondary Video sequence.


    Caption display alignment

    Reduce, refocus, and recenter all caption text.


    text color

    Reduce the text color and opacity.


    text background color

    Reduce the background plate color and opacity.


    Setting the unlock settings

    There are two ways to work with unlocking keys - either a preset list of codes, or a seed generator that uses individual user names to derive a single code per name.

    For Space, we wanted a single code for everyone.

    Enter keycode information

    Add a keycode in the Key List, and make it funky.


    Customize the Locking message

    Explain your deluxe screensaver to your end users.


    Customizing controls and installers

    The Controls and Installer tabs allow you to educate your end users more about your screensaver during both installation and use. The titles were set with the wizard when starting the projects, but can be changed if desired. If splash picture art is used, it will be sized to 392x120 pixels to fit. Weblinks can be set to return users to your website.

    For Space, we altered the texts to make it clear that we are not affliated nor endorsed by NASA, nor claiming copyright over any assets used in the screensavers. Our splash pictures we left as their defaults.

    The Controls panel

    Set the Control Panel art and texts.


    The Installer panel

    Set the Installer art and texts, which can include any End User License Agreements.


    Building installers

    The wizard has taken care of the filenames on the individual platforms, so that you can build all platforms at the same time from the Share tab. Or, add icon art or wallpaper, or check and copy your current plug-in information to establish a minimum your end users will need to have installed (or blank the field to not check a plugin at all).

    The Build Progress apprises of build warnings, errors, and other pertinent information, and allows installation when complete. Reveal shows the installer folders and zip files for both platforms, and please use the zips to transfer to clients or end users via the web, email, or onto discs.

    For Space, our Flash movies were created for Flash 9 and we didn't need any fancy modern QuickTime technologies, so we altered the minimums to reduce any installation impact on end user's machines.

    Macintosh build options

    Macintosh build options.


    Windows build options

    Windows build options. Note that once built, you can install directly from this tab.


    Turn off image overlays

    Proceed directly to Build All.


    Turn off image overlays

    Build Progress gives a lot of information... almost too much.
    Test or reveal the installer directly from here.


    Testing screensavers

    It's really good to test your final installers, and to test on as many different machines as possible, mostly to gauge how your project responds to different hardware and monitors. What may work fast on one machine, may display differently on another.

    Reveal the installer folders

    Click Reveal in the Build tab to show the actual location on your local storage.

    Presentation Slides

    This presentation slideshow sample project has examples of a bullet-point text presentation, and how to create solid wipes and dissolves.

    Project Background: our customer contracted out for a complicated Flash animation for a client's screensaver, but at the end of the project the client's specifications changed against using Flash, so the customer came for advice. In looking at it, the Flash animation was really a fancy bullet-point feature list, so we made the suggestion, since the original Flash contractors completed their work, to take screengrabs and use the built-in transition effects to animate the same. The end results pleased both customer and client.

    Demonstration Summary: Preparing and animating presentation slides, using Dissolves and Wipes. However, instead of screen capturing from a Flash animation (only recommended in a emergency), we create new bullet-point frames in a third-party graphics application.


    Preparing your assets

    A third-party application like GIMP or Adobe Photoshop can be invaluable in adjusting, cropping, or formatting your images. For our customer's project, the Flash .FLA project was not available, so we used the built-in Mac OS X screen capture commands to screengrab while running the animation full screen in Flash Player.

    For this example, we created six frames of a generic bullet-point presentation: a blank background, a title card with the client's name, and a sequence of text changes building to a large splash. (This, of course, is a gross simplification of our customer's actual project.)

    The images were created in Photoshop at 1024x768 in size and would be set to display as Letterbox on the end users' monitors. The 'Save For Web' feature allows saving in a lossless PNG-24 format, since the JPEG compressors have trouble properly reproducing gradient ramps.

    Demo Art blank.png
    Demo Art title.png Demo Art 01.png Demo Art 02.png
    Demo Art 03.png Demo Art 04.png Demo Art 05.png

    Created generic background and bullet-point artwork.

    Photoshop's Save For Web feature

    Export your artwork through Abode Photoshop's Save For Web.

    Arranging your assets

    When first importing items to the sequence, it'll be arranged alphabetically left to right, and top to bottom, in sequential order. Grab the thumbnails to reset the order, but if you are intending to shuffle then their order does not matter. Use either Thumbnail View or List View to re-arrange the order.

    For this example, there is a particular order, looping, but always starting at the beginning of the sequence. We used the ability to move multiple items, so that the blank background would be the first in the sequence. Under the Info palette's Global Video Sequence settings, the defaults were appropriate.

    New Project Wizard

    The wizard will automatically fill in your project name in various places throughout the screensaver and installers.

    Importing Items

    Import your items.

    Arranging Items

    Re-arrange multiple items.

    Our final sequence order

    The final sequence order (from left to right, then wrapping down a row), as seen in Thumbnail View.

    Global settings

    The global sequence settings control how the sequence shall startup and perform.

    Setting overall item values

    It's easier to start with the settings that are in common between all the items. By selecting all, it's simple to turn off the Captions and the Picture overlays, without erasing their contents. (They default as On, so it's wise to turn them off first if not desired.) On the Media tab, Display defaults to Letterbox, Effect to a motion Dissolve, and Compression to High Quality.

    For this example, while everything is selected, make sure to turn off the Overlays completely, and switch Compression to None. The blue gradient is a difficult pattern with JPEG, and the art was saved as Lossless PNG, so the default is incorrect for this project, as JPEG artifacts can be seen when scales up to larger monitors.

    Select all the items

    Select all the items, as seen in List View.

    Turn off the  overlays

    On Info palette's Behavior tab, switch off the overlays.

    Turn off compression

    On Info palette's Media tab, switch compression to None.

    Setting specific item values

    Sometimes the List View allows more information to be gleaned while authoring a screensaver. Try selecting a few items that share settings. Control-click the column names to re-sort or view more column information. Use the Info palette to quickly switch out parameters, and view in the Preview stage.

    For this example, the first two images will be Dissolves, whereas the rest will be Wipe-Right. Select the first two and open the Effect section, to turn off Random Motion and Simultaneous Out Effect, as movement is not necessary, and we need our previous item to hold on-screen a bit longer before fading away.

    With those settings set, trade in the selected items for the unselected items by inverting the selection. Switch the Dissolve Effect for Wipe towards the Right. With Wipe or Slide Effects, the Simultaneous Out is defaults to the, in this case, proper off.

    Select all the dissolve items

    From List View, select the items to be using Dissolve effects.

    Change Dissolve options

    On Info palette's Media tab, set Dissolve Effect options off.

    Invert Selection

    From the Edit menu, reverse the selection of items.

    Select all the wipe items

    From List View, notice the selection has been inverted.

    Change to Wipe

    On Info palette's Media tab, switch Effect to Wipe.

    Change to Wipe Right

    On Info palette's Media Effect section, switch Wipe Effect to the Right.

    Setting durations

    Different items deserve longer durations, or shorter ones.

    For this example, the title and the final slide were to be on longer than the others, but that the others actually need to be shorter. Selecting multiple items with the command button (on Macintosh) or control button (on Windows) make a simple chore for matching items.

    Select all the non-default duration items

    From List View, select the sequence items that need a shorter duration.

    Change duration

    On Info palette's Behavior tab, switch Play Out to 2 seconds (or use the presets menu).

    View all the non-default duration times

    From List View, view the new duration Times for all the sequence items.

    Building your screensaver

    If saving has not occurred, the build will cancel. Save. Choose your platform, build, and install directly from iScreensaver.

    For this example, the wizard pre-filled all the pertinent information for filenames and project names with 'Presentation Slides' at the beginning. Save, then on the Build tab, move to the Mac or Win subtabs (depending on platform), and Build. To immediately install, just choose Install when the buidl process is complete. For more details on the build, see 'Details...' If you install a second time, if the filenames are the same, you will replace the previous version, not add a second screensaver.

    Save the project

    Save the screensaver project, if not saved before now.

    Build the screensaver

    Build the screensaver on your system.

    Install the screensaver

    Install the screensaver on your system.

    Using Third-Party Tools

    Some big changes have rocked the internet-video world since iScreensaver version 4 was released. HTML5 video has become much more cross-platform friendly, and Flash and QuickTime have been eclipsed in use as modern operating systems welcome the H.264 standards.

    Adobe Flash

    Using Flash brings its own security risks. iScreensaver minimizes potential security troubles and we continue to include Flash playback, but due to continual constant updates, on-going security threats, and falling popularity of Flash installation desirability, we highly recommend not using Flash content for any project. That warning being stated, we do have some important notes on designing Flash screensaver projects, listed below.

    Apple QuickTime

    Movies have been transitioning to a cross-platform non-plugin HTML5-based solution for a few years, and QuickTime has been downgraded out of the primary Apple ecosystem. QuickTime Player can still be downloaded and be useful as a tool, but the technology is not used directly for creating and running screensavers with iScreensaver Designer any longer.

    Salient Points for Authoring Movie Screensavers:

    • QuickTime X for Mac OS X has fewer available codecs than previous versions, as many legacy codecs have been switched off. We recommend H.264 encoding only.
    • You might find that QuickTime for Windows is incredibly more useful after upgrading to QuickTime Pro.

    Creating QuickTime-free Screensavers

    iScreensaver 5 does not require QuickTime.

    iScreensaver 4, under the right circumstances, can author a screensaver that does not require QuickTime to be installed. Before the release of Mac OS X 10.10, there was no such Macintosh machine without QuickTime, so this mainly applies to Windows end users that don't want to, or can't install QuickTime.

    You can avoid the QuickTime requirements from your v4.5 Windows installers by following these rules:

    • There are separate controls for setting up the Macintosh and Windows installer plugin checks:
    • On 'Check Plugin Versions' on the Windows Build tab, blank the QuickTime version.
    • Video Content:
      • PNG or JPG images (or enable image compression, which will automatically convert to PNG or JPEG image format).
      • SWF (Flash) content -- this of course requires the Flash plugin to be installed.
    • Audio Content:
      • MP3 audio files (WMA or AAC files will not work).
    • For Flash-only screensavers, turn on the plugin check on the Share tab with the minimum Flash player for the content involved.

    Set for Flash Only, by blanking the QuickTime and OpenGL fields

    Blank the OpenGL field, to set the installers to check for Flash only.

    Apple iPhoto

    Use the Title and Description fields in iPhoto to set metadata that can be imported into iScreensaver.

    iPhoto metadata

    Import photo metadata information directly from iPhoto.

    Apple Photos

    Gathering data on Apple's new release.

    Apple iMovie and Final Cut Studio

    Salient Points:

    • Use the H.264 codec.
    • Use the Photo-JPEG codec.

    Background on video codecs:

    Under OS X 10.6 through 10.10, certain video codecs will cause the screensaver to exit. This will not happen when you use the "Test" button from the control panel, but will happen when using a Hot Corner, or when the screensaver activates normally. This is a known bug within 10.6 - 10.10.

    Workaround:

    Convert your movie to use a "safe" codec, which currently are:

    • Photo JPEG.
    • H.264 (when re-saved from QuickTime Pro -- video directly from devices such as an iPhone may not work without re-conversion).

    Unsafe codecs:

    • AVI.
    • Sorenson Video3 Decompressor.
    • Motion JPEG.
    • H.264 (video directly from some devices such as iPhone).
    • H.263.
    • OpenDML JPEG (video directly from certain cameras, such as Canon Powershot Digital Elph).

    Adobe Flash Player and Flash Creative Suite

    Flash CS5 Users: You must publish your SWF items using Flash 9 publish settings. See below. CS5 / Flash 10 came out after iScreensaver 4 was released. Publish as Flash 9 format for best results.

    We have made every effort to accommodate the use of powerful and exciting Flash content, however... although iScreensaver supports the use of interactive Flash movies, we recommend that simple timeline-based animations work best as screensavers. This said, we know some users of iScreensaver will be more ambitious with Flash-based screensaver projects, and we want you to be able to meet your goals, so in this section we'll include a few tips to help you along with your project creation.

    NOTE: this section is intended for advanced users who are already familiar with the basics (and not-so-basics) of ActionScript 3 and Flash-based programming, and who are ready to leverage these skills to help design a Flash file specifically for use with iScreensaver. It is not intended to be a primary resource for Flash programming or project creation, and as such, should not be considered to be even remotely comprehensive.

    If you are a Flash maven, you may find ways to use Flash in iScreensaver that we have never even considered. If so, more power to you! If you'd like to let us know about your creative feats, please do! We have the iScreensaver user forums available for sharing knowledge. We'd be quite excited to hear of it. But truthfully, no one here really considers themselves to be a Flash maven, so if you get in over your head, ...!

    (At that point, perhaps a post to our forums can help bring fresh eyes to your project.)

    Interactive Flash Media

    Using Adobe Flash's Actionscript allows creating interactive Flash media. Examples of interactive media include projects containing user-clickable buttons, editable text fields, networked media, or interactive games. You can include interactive Flash .SWF files in any iScreensaver project. However by default, any mouse movement or keyboard action will interrupt playback of an installed screensaver (unless the on-screen controls are enabled). You can enable interactivity for your Flash media and prevent awakening the screensaver by adjusting the Interactivity settings on the Info palette's Behavior tab. This setting defaults as unchecked for all imported items, and can only be adjusted for Flash media.

    Interactive Setting

    Set to "Allow user interaction" when using interactive Flash media.

    Setting a Flash item to "Allow user interaction" prevents mouse movements, keyboard commands, or other user input from interrupting screensaver playback. While this allows you to build user interaction into your screensaver, this feature should be used with care because from the user's perspective, if 'normal' inputs are intercepted, then it could be unclear how to exit the screensaver. This could have the undesired effect of 'trapping' the user there. So, build in a more obvious method to escape the screensaver, like an internally scripted, art-based 'exit' or 'quit' button. There are many ways you can do this, but we recommend adding a function that calls the special URL "iscr:exit" to exit the screensaver. Alternatively, embed the "iscr:next" URL to force iScreensaver to go to the next asset in the screensaver, when executed.

    Using the Special "iscr:exit" Command

    The ActionScript code snippet below commands iScreensaver to quit screensaver playback upon execution (in this case, when the user clicks on a button with an instance name of Exit_btn). Note the use of the iScreensaver-specific URL syntax "iscr:exit", which causes the screensaver to exit:

    var exitSaver:URLRequest = newURLRequest("iscr:exit");
     
    Exit_btn.addEventListener(MouseEvent.CLICK, doneSaver);
     
    function doneSaver(event:MouseEvent):void{
      navigateToURL(exitSaver, "_self");
    }
    

    Simple Linear Timeline

    The base case for a Flash project used in iScreensaver would be a simple animation that occurs along a linear timeline within Flash.

    Flash Linear Animation

    A simple animation created in Adobe Flash CS4. This is about as simple as you can get.

    If this is the type of Flash project you want to use in Designer, then simply drag and drop your published .SWF into the iScreensaver Project window, then use the Info palette to adjust playback settings. Any Flash .SWF containing a linear timeline can be set to loop an arbitrary number of times within iScreensaver. Due to Flash security issues, however, you cannot set either the start time or end the end time of a .SWF playing in iScreensaver. iScreensaver determines the total duration (in seconds) of a Flash file by dividing the number of frames by its framerate, and displays this information on the Behavior tab.

    Info: Behavior

    Set the playback behavior on the Behavior tab of the Info palette.

    Single-Frame Project

    A .SWF project containing only a single frame is a different beast. If you want to display such a project in a screensaver, you should be aware that you will need to add an internal timer (using ActionScript, an example seen below) if you ever want your screensaver to advance to the next item.

    Using Video within Flash

    Adobe cautions that embedding video into the Flash project will certainly increase the final .SWF size, and that in addition, the audio/video sync might not match with long video clips. Their CS4 documentation defines 'small video' as "typically less than 10 seconds in length." Be warned.

    Using Audio within Flash

    iScreensaver does not have control of internal Flash audio, so if controls such as volume, mute, or pausing are desired, make sure to create on-screen controls for your end users to adjust. This audio could actually play while previewing within System Preferences on the Macintosh and Control Panels on Windows, which is a feature not common with most screensavers. Be aware that multi-monitor setups on the Macintosh could allow several asynchronous tracks to play at the same time - one for each monitor.

    Using Flash ActionScript 3

    The ActionScript 3 scripting language can be used to extend the utility and entertainment value of a Flash project. It can be used to do something as simple as creating a button to control timeline activity, or to link out to a webpage, or to create a complicated and entertaining game. For the purposes of Flash projects designed for use with iScreensaver, however, remember again our rule of thumb: simple animations with a timeline work best as screensavers.

    If you're going for something more complicated than that, here are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Any ActionScript you need to use must be embedded within the main timeline of the Flash project. Use of Packages or external files containing Flash ActionScript instructions is not supported within iScreensaver.
    • Some things that Flash can do are not compatible with how a screensaver works. A single-frame .SWF project is not advised; try to build in a timeline, even if it is only two frames long.
    • When you design a Flash project for use with iScreensaver, please consider the limitations imposed by Flash security settings, sandboxing, etc., and plan accordingly.

    Internal Timeline Navigation

    If you want to include the ability to navigate along a timeline within your .SWF, any ActionScript directing such commands must be included on the main timeline of the project.

    Flash Project

    ActionScript

    A Flash project with rudimentary user-activated timeline navigation.

    iScreensaver keeps track of the Flash timeline, and whenever Flash goes backwards in time (e.g., moving from Frame 30 to Frame 1 within a Scene, or moving to Scene 1 from Scene 2), iScreensaver considers the Flash timeline to have completed a loop. Therefore, if your .SWF includes ActionScript elements that cause the playhead to move backwards along the main timeline, you need to set the Play behavior within iScreensaver to "Forever." This prevents iScreensaver from prematurely jumping to the next asset in your screensaver project.

    Flash ActionScript

    ActionScript in the second scene of a Flash movie causes the playhead to move back to Scene 1 when a button is clicked.

    Info: Behavior

    A Flash movie with an interactive element that moves the playhead backwards should be set to loop "Forever."

    Flash timers can talk to iScreensaver: navigateToURL("iscr:next")

    Having a single asset in a screensaver that loops "Forever" is not always desirable. So, you might want to build in a timer for your .SWF that automatically terminates the Flash movie and advances to the next asset in your screensaver. There are two ways to accomplish this, but each require you to use a specific ActionScript syntax (by navigating to the special URL "iscr:next").

    Adding a timeline-dependent timer using the ENTER_FRAME event

    This snippet of code uses the ENTER_FRAME event to count how many frames have been played by the Flash plugin. After an arbitrary number of frames have elapsed (in this case, 300 frames), the navigateToURL() method is called to tell iScreensaver to advance to the next slide in the screensaver project. Note that this approach only works with movies that have a timeline more than one frame long.

    import flash.utils.*;
     
    // count the # of frames
    var frameCount:uint;
    var lastFrame:uint;
     
    // identify variables for buttons
    var getNext:URLRequest = new URLRequest("iscr:next");
     
    //add an event listener to detect when a new frame is entered
    addEventListener(Event.ENTER_FRAME, onFrame);
     
    //every frame entry, this function is called
    function onFrame(evt:Event): void{
    	if (lastFrame != this.currentFrame) {
    		frameCount = frameCount + 1;
    		lastFrame = this.currentFrame;
    		trace (frameCount);
     
    		if(frameCount == 300)  {
    //insert the iScreensaver-specific command
    //to navigate to the next slide
    //within a screensaver project
    		navigateToURL(getNext, "_self");
    		stop();
    		}
    	}
     
    }
    

    Scripting an internal timer using the Timer() method

    This snippet of code uses the ActionScript 3 Timer() method to count down to an elapsed time of 50000 msec (50 seconds). When the timer elapses, the navigateToURL() method is called to tell iScreensaver to advance to the next slide in the screensaver project. The Timer() method can be used with a single-frame Flash movie.

    import flash.utils.*;
     
    var timer:Timer = new Timer(50000);
    var getNext:URLRequest = new URLRequest("iscr:next");
     
    //add an event listener for the timer
    timer.addEventListener(TimerEvent.TIMER, onTimer);
     
    function onTimer(evt:TimerEvent):void{
    //insert the iScreensaver-specific command
    //to navigate to the next slide within a screensaver project
    	navigateToURL(getNext, "_self");
    }
    //start the timer
    timer.start();
    

    Unfortunately, there is a disadvantage to this timing method, which is that pausing the Flash plugin via iScreensaver (e.g., by using the iScreensaver on-screen play and pause controls) does not pause the Timer(). Timer() will continue to countdown even if the Flash timeline playback is paused. So, although this is your only alternative if you wish to have an internal timer in a single-frame movie, use of this approach may have unexpected results in a finished screensaver. The primary effect noticed is that if the screensaver that is paused using the on-screen controls during playback of a Flash movie with a Timer(), will pause playback of the Flash timeline, but will automatically advance to the next item in the sequence when the timer elapses, and then pause there.

    Navigating to a URL on the Web

    If your Flash project contains timeline-triggered or user-triggered events that will open an external webpage (e.g., with calls to the navigateToURL() method), you must specify a target in which to open the new page. You can use either "_self" or "_parent" ("_top", "_blank", or a blank target will not work).

    In this code snippet, the author has created a button with instance name "Sun_btn" which, when clicked, will cause the screensaver to exit and open a webpage on the NASA website:

    var getSunPage:URLRequest = 
    newURLRequest("http://www.nasa.gov/worldbook/sun_worldbook.html");
     
    Sun_btn.addEventListener(MouseEvent.CLICK, sunInfo);
     
    function sunInfo(event:MouseEvent):void{
    	navigateToURL(getSunPage, "_self");
    }
    

    Flash Security Settings

    See also: Technical Note: SWF Security

    The Flash Creative Suite imposes restrictions on what kinds of actions a .SWF can perform. iScreensaver respects these restrictions, so it is important to understand how Flash security considerations can impact screensaver design.

    Flash Sandboxing and Publish Settings

    Flash CS5 Users: You must publish your SWF items using Flash 9 publish settings. See below. CS5 / Flash 10 came out after iScreensaver 4 was released. Publish as Flash 9 format for best results.

    As a security feature, Flash can either talk to the hard drive or to the Internet, but it can not do both at once. Therefore be cognizant of these limitations in designing your Flash file. If you will be importing images, movies, or other material from an Internet location into a Flash file playing within a screensaver, you must publish your project with Local playback security settings set to "Access network only" (not "Access local files only").

    For more information on Flash security, see: http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplayer/security.html

    Flash Publish Settings

    Publish Settings within Adobe Flash CS5 for Macintosh.

    Flash Sandboxing and .SWF Timeline Control

    Flash security restrictions have implications for Flash files designed to play back within iScreensaver: to wit, iScreensaver cannot control the timeline for a .SWF whose Local playback security is set to "Access network only." Flash timeline control within iScreensaver (e.g. - pausing its playback via the iScreensaver on-screen controls) can only be achieved if .SWF Local playback security is set to "Access local files only." Therefore, if you are designing a .SWF for use within iScreensaver, you can either enable your .SWF to link to external network locations, or you can allow your user to control the playback of your .SWF's timeline via the iScreensaver on-screen controls - but you can't do both at once.

    Different Flash playback security settings may affect how a .SWF behaves within iScreensaver, so please test this thoroughly. As part of your testing, you should test your project with different global security settings.

    You can access your global Flash security settings from the following link: http://www.macromedia.com/support/documentation/en/flashplayer/help/settings_manager.html

    Keep in mind that the end user of the screensaver may have different Flash security settings on their computer than might you, the author. The end user's Flash security settings may interfere with the intended operation of your screensaver. This is why we feel that, when it comes to Flash, "Simpler is (almost) always better!"

    Testing Flash Projects

    While we have done testing with several different types of Flash projects and files, we cannot guarantee that all - or even most - of the Flash projects our users may create will be adaptable for use as a screensaver. We encourage you to download and try the free, unregistered version of iScreensaver with your Flash content before you purchase.

    Adobe Photoshop

    Adobe Photoshop is an invaluable tool for working with images. The program is wonderfully complex, and because of that, there are many paths towards achieving similar results. We urge experimentation.

    Creating PNG Transparencies

    When using background colors with solid images, the actual image shape may be much different than the square bounding-box of the image. In these cases, a JPEG image will not be the proper format, and the image should be converted to PNG which supports transparency within the file.

    As an example, in reality the planet Jupiter is usually assumed to be a sphere, but many photographs contain a fall off into deep dark space. To overcome this, and to remove the bounding-box square around the image, we want to create a circle alpha mask to separate Jupiter from the background.

    Photoshop Skills

    Our original JPEG image.

    Photoshop Skills

    Set a background color to bright green.

    Photoshop Skills

    Importing the JPEG image and adding a background color with a slight tilt shows the bounding-box limitations of the JPEG format.

    From within Photoshop, since the center of this image is off-set towards the right, use the Canvas Size settings to add extra pixel room to a create a full rectangle around the circular image.

    Photoshop Skills

    Anchor and resize the width of the image.

    Photoshop Skills

    The newly resized canvas.

    Photoshop Skills

    Use the Circle Marquee tool to select and 'complete' the image mask area.
    It is recommended to use a slight feather to your final resolution's mask size, as hard edge masks can present some OpenGL edge artifacting.

    Photoshop Skills

    In Photoshop's Layers palette, change the Background Layer to a floating layer and add a layer Mask based on the marquee selection.

    Photoshop Skills

    The newly relayered canvas.

    Photoshop Skills

    Crop the newly relayered canvas.

    Photoshop Skills

    Use 'Save for Web & Devices' to save as a PNG with transparency.
    Resize the final Image Size during save without affecting the original file, if desired.

    Photoshop Skills

    Import the new PNG file, and change the Transparency setting to 'Mask.'
    Set the Compression setting to Lossless, for PNG files.

    Photoshop Skills

    View the new planet with a background color.

    Appendix A Installing a Screensaver

    Installing a screensaver

    The Installer

    The Installer.


    The Publishing information warning

    Order an official publishing certificate to remove these messages.
    This is a highly technical process with other third-party software.


    Unlocking request

    The skippable Unlocking request upon installation.


    Screen Saver Settings

    Windows' Screen Saver Settings. Try 'Preview' or 'Settings...' for fun.


    The Control Panel

    iScreensaver's control panel.


    User Options

    iScreensaver's user options. With the easy uninstall button.


    Programs and Features

    Clicking 'Uninstall...' opens Windows' Programs and Features.
    Select the screensaver and click Uninstall.


    Uninstall message

    The return of MS-DOS, in uninstaller form.

    Uninstalling Screensavers

    We have two ways - easy and hard. But both are pretty simple.

    To remove a screensaver the easy way (automatically):

    Windows:

    1. Using the right mouse button, click the desktop. From the popup menu, choose "Personalization" or "Properties".
    2. Click the "Screen Saver" tab.
    3. Click the "Settings..." button.
    4. Click the "Uninstall..." button.
    5. Follow the instructions for "Remove Programs" within Windows.

    Mac OS X:

    1. From the Apple menu (at the top left of your screen) choose "System Preferences".
    2. Select "Desktop & Screen Saver" (10.3 and higher), "Display Effects" (10.2) or "Screen Saver" (10.1).
    3. Click the "Options" button.
    4. Click the "Uninstall..." button.

    To remove a screensaver the hard way (manually):

    Please visit: Manually Uninstalling iScreensavers.

    To remove screensavers made with previous versions of iScreensaver:

    For screensavers made with iScreensaver Designer 3.5 or earlier, please visit our legacy support pages for further instructions.

    Troubleshooting

    Troubleshooting tips for iScreensaver: For authors using iScreensaver Designer, and for end users using screensavers created with the software.

    Troubleshooting iScreensaver Designer

    For iScreensaver Authors

    This section is for authors who are using the iScreensaver Designer software to make screensavers. If you are seeking help with using screensavers created with iScreensaver, see below.

    iScreensaver Designer is a professional multimedia editor application. As such it can require and use large quantities of RAM, CPU, and Hard Disk. For best results, we recommend Mac OS X 10.10 or Windows 10 with a computer built in the last two years.

    Install / Uninstall problems

    Trouble installing iScreensaver Designer is often caused by Anti-Virus software, or by the computer not meeting the minimum requirements:

    Validation Problems

    If you have purchased a License code, but can't get it to validate:

    General Performance Tips

    • Think of the end users: You (the multimedia author) probably have a fast machine, but the end users may not. Keep this in mind when designing your artwork. iScreensaver can be downloaded and used prior to purchase, so please test on a variety of platforms and machines as you design your screensaver.
    • 4K UHD: 4096x4096 motion screensavers look fantastic, but make sure your end users can run them well. Think about having multiple versions of the project with vastly higher and lower resolution images as download options.
    • Consider making a "lo-fi" version: Using current technology it's simply not possible to make a "one size fits all" screensaver that works on every machine. What looks great on a modern fast computer will look very klunky on a old, slow one. We suggest creating a "low fidelity" version (using reduced size and reduced frame-rate versions of all media) that you can distribute for older/slower machines. If you need to support really old machines, consider using iScreensaver 4 for mediumly ancient machines or iScreensaver 3.5 for truly legacy computers.
    • Windows Aero Glass: Windows Vista and Windows 7 have an optional feature called 'Aero Glass'. When enabled, this provides true 3D windowing with much better performance. It's easy to accidentally disable Aero Glass, and not all versions of Windows support it. Enable Aero Glass.
    • RAM, CPU, Disk : if your computer is busy with other tasks, those will slow down the screensaver. Look for other processes that may be competing: Windows Task Manager or OS X Activity Monitor.
    • Sequence Size: There is no hard limit on the number of items in a sequence. We have tested with 9,000 items on a fast machine with plenty of RAM, and it works fine; but typically as the number of items increase, performance will suffer.

    Overlays

    • Image overlays and Text Captions can cause animation to slow down, especially on Windows XP, and Windows Vista/7 with Aero Glass disabled. Don't use overlays, or use small ones, for better performance.
    • Flicker: See the most recent Release Notes for known issues with overlay flicker when using QuickTime content on Windows XP and Vista/7 with Aero Glass disabled.

    Image Transition Effects (OpenGL)

    • Image Size / OpenGL Texture Size: All OpenGL cards have a maximum pixel size they can handle (for example, older cards max out at 1024x1024). However, many cards will show slow performance long before they reach that maximum. A good rule of thumb is to reduce image sizes to no larger than the size of the monitor. See Image Sizing for more details.
    • OpenGL Drivers: This is mainly an issue for windows PCs, where the built in Microsoft OpenGL drivers are very slow. Updating to the proper vendor-supplied drivers can make a 50x improvement or more. For tips, see How to update OpenGL Drivers.
    • Video Card, Video RAM: If your PC is old, or even if it's new but has an old or low powered video card, performance will suffer. The only thing to do in this case is get a modern video card. Many laptops, or netbooks in particular, have slow video cards that cannot be upgraded.
    • Image Behavior Duration: Many computers will not be able to keep up with very short image durations. Short durations may also impact the pre-caching behavior so that image transitions are not as smooth as possible. We recommend 5 seconds or longer as a good rule of thumb.

    Saving Movies Using QuickTime

    • Make sure you have the latest version of QuickTime. See Download QuickTime.
    • Use the H.264 video codec. See Release Notes.
    • Reduce your movie size: Remember that a movie that twice as wide and twice as tall requires 4x as many pixels to be decoded. DVD video looks quite good and is only 720x480 pixels in size.
    • Reduce the frame rate: Although humans can see up to 60fps or higher, movie theaters use 24fps, and cartoons are often shown at 15fps. Try reducing the frame rate of your movie.

    Adobe Flash (SWF)

    • Make sure you have the latest version of Flash Player. See Get Flash Player.
    • Reduce your movie size: Remember that a SWF that twice as wide and twice as tall requires 4x as many pixels to be animated. DVD video looks quite good and is only 720x480 pixels in size.
    • Reduce the frame rate: Although humans can see up to 60fps or higher, movie theaters use 24fps, and cartoons are often shown at 15fps. Try reducing the frame rate of your movie.
    • Adobe CS5 users: Try publishing as a Flash version 9 file rather than Version 10. See Flash in iScreensaver.

    Background Audio

    Audio is fun, but remember that a screensaver is a special setting: the computer's user is not present, and the screen may be password protected. If you include audio you run the risk of driving your users and coworkers bonkers. Here are some tips:

    • Timing: The background audio sequence runs independently from the foreground video sequence. iScreensaver can not give you exact audio timing of either audio or video sequences. On slow machines the audio may start a few seconds after the images. So, if you really need exact sequencing of images and audio, then you should use a format where the audio and video are synchronized, such as Flash (SWF) or QuickTime.
    • Looping: if you do use audio, consider having it play once only.

    Troubleshooting iScreensavers

    For iScreensaver Users

    This section is for users seeking help with a screensaver created with iScreensaver Designer. If you are a screensaver author, please see above.

    Install / Uninstall problems

    Trouble installing iScreensaver is often caused by Anti-Virus software, or by the computer not meeting the minimum requirements.

    There are some specific technical rule changes from Microsoft in supporting modern CPUs that have affected how all screensaver installers unzip.

    • "Extract All" when Unzipping: See here concerning unzipping under Windows.

    Trouble with un-installing is usually caused by installing multiple copies of the same screensaver in different location(s) : try a manual uninstall.

    • Uninstalling screen savers manually: See here.

    Slow Performance

    First, remember that a screensaver is not meant to be a high-performance media playback environment. While the screensaver is running, your computer may be working on background processes, such as antivirus scans, disk cleanup, etc. All of these can impact performance of the screensaver. Also, screensavers that do use a lot of system resources (CPU, Hard Disk, RAM) can be energy wasters. See Green Screens for tips on saving energy.

    There are other things that can negatively impact performance. Here are some to consider:

    General Performance Tips

    • Multiple monitors: iScreensaver can run on 2 or more monitors. This may substantially reduce performance. Try running on a single monitor only.
    • Windows Aero Glass: Windows Vista and Windows 7 have an optional feature called 'Aero Glass'. When enabled, this provides true 3D windowing with much better performance. It's easy to accidentally disable Aero Glass, and not all versions of windows support it. Enable Aero Glass.
    • RAM, CPU, Disk : if your computer is busy with other tasks, those will slow down the screensaver. Look for other processes that may be competing: Windows Task ManagerOS X Activity Monitor.

    Image Transition Effects (OpenGL)

    • OpenGL Drivers - this is mainly an issue for windows PCs, where the built in Microsoft OpenGL drivers are very slow. Updating to the proper vendor-supplied drivers can make a 50x improvement or more. For tips, see How to update OpenGL Drivers.
    • Video Card, Video RAM - if your PC is old, or even if it's new but has an old or low powered video card, performance will suffer. The only thing to do in this case is get a modern video card. Many laptops, in particular, have slow video cards that can not be upgraded. In particular, the Intel GMA950 / 945 chipset has not been found to work with our product at all. Update: this bug has been fixed, be sure to use version 4.0.0.294 or later.

    QuickTime Movies

    Flash (SWF)

    Miscellaneous Screensaver issues on Windows XP, Vista, 7