- Complete Guide
- Table of Contents
- Welcome to iScreensaver
- Downloading and Installing
- Designing and Preparing
- Managing Projects
- Importing Media
- Editing a Screensaver
- Locking and Unlocking
- Branding Control Panels
- Customizing Installers
- Building Installers
- Distributing Installers
- QuickStart and Sample Projects
- Using Flash and Third-Party Tools
- Installing a Screensaver
Downloading Sample Files
DOWNLOAD a subset of imagery and a sample .ISC project with which to practice.
Windows users should 'Save' the zipped folder, then 'Extract All' to use the files.
When first opening the project, just point to the 'earth.png' file in the assets folder, and everything else will be relinked. Saving the project will remember that location.
The Space screensaver has examples of many of the advanced features possible in iScreensaver. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Installing a screensaver
Of course, now you are going to want to go through the entire User Manual, which explains many more important details and gives plenty of questionable advice.