Notes on using the photo booth mode in DSLR Remote Pro, PSRemote, Webcam Photobooth and NKRemote

Part 1: Overview

Next article: What the user sees (and hears)

Introduction

The latest versions of our remote capture software include a fully featured photo booth mode suitable for enthusiasts setting up a photo booth for a special party right through to event photographers and professionals running a commercial photo booth business. This series of articles describes what equipment you need and how to get the most out of the software. The rest of this article provides an introduction on how to setup a simple photo booth. Subsequent articles look at different aspects of the software in more detail including "What the user sees (and hears)", "Input options", "Printers and print layout", "Getting the best results out of the camera", other aspects such as reprints, captioning, running a slideshow and customization, green screen shooting and frequently asked questions.

What equipment do you need?

The simplest setup consists of a Windows PC or laptop, a camera, an inkjet printer and a copy of our DSLR Remote Pro for Windows, PSRemote, NKRemote Webcam Photobooth software or an Apple Mac computer or laptop and our DSLR Remote Pro for Mac software. Which of our software you use depends on what camera you have:
For Canon DSLR cameras such as the Canon EOS 1100D/Rebel T3, Canon EOS 1000D/Rebel XS, Canon EOS 100D/Rebel SL1, Canon EOS 700D/Rebel T5i, Canon EOS 650D/Rebel T4i, Canon EOS 600D/Rebel T3i, Canon EOS 550D/Rebel T2i, Canon EOS 500D/Rebel T1i, Canon EOS 450D/Rebel XSi, Canon EOS 40D, Canon EOS 50D, Canon EOS 60D, Canon EOS 70D, Canon EOS 7D, Canon EOS 6D, Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EOS-1D Mark III, Canon EOD-1D Mark IV or Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III you need our DSLR Remote Pro for Windows or DSLR Remote Pro for Mac software.
For Nikon DSLRs such as the Nikon D90, Nikon D300, Nikon D5000, Nikon D5100, Nikon D5200, Nikon D5300, Nikon D7100, Nikon D7000, Nikon D610, Nikon D600, Nikon D700, Nikon D800 and Nikon D4 you need our NKRemote software.
For Canon PowerShot cameras such as the Canon PowerShot G10, Canon PowerShot G9, Canon PowerShot SX110 IS and Canon PowerShot SX100 IS you need our PSRemote software.
For webcams such as the Microsoft Lifecam Cinema HD, Microsoft LifeCam Studio, Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 HD, Logitech C920 HD Webcam or Logitech C910 HD Webcam you need our Webcam Photobooth software.

If you don't already have a suitable camera the Canon EOS 1100D/Rebel T3 probably offers the best price/performance for a stills photo booth and is capable of producing professional results. If you also want to offer video booth shooting then the Canon EOS 700D/Rebel T5i or Canon EOS 650D/Rebel T4i is a better choice because it allows the use of an external microphone and supports 640x480, 720p and 1080p video resolutions. Either camera should be fine if you plan to use ambient light, continuous lighting, the camera's built-in flash, an E-TTL II compatible flash connected to the camera's hotshoe or studio strobes to light your photobooth. Please read this section on lighting if you plan to use studio strobes for lighting your photobooth.
The Canon EOS 70D is currently the best camera available If you want to use auto focus in photobooth mode. This because the Canon EOS 70D has Canon's new fast phase detect auto focus in live view. The Canon EOS 70D's continuous face detect + tracking live view AF setting is ideal for both stills and video photobooth use.

If you are on a tight budget then the Canon PowerShot SX110 IS, Canon PowerShot S5 IS, Canon PowerShot G9 or Canon PowerShot G10 are worth considering as is a good quality webcam and our Webcam Photobooth software. Please note that the latest Canon PowerShot cameras do not support remote capture and so you may need to buy a used camera which does support remote capture. Please see the PSRemote features page for a list of supported camera models.

The photo booth modes in all three apps are very similar and the Windows versions will all run on Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista or WIndows XP. DSLR Remote Pro for Mac will run on an Apple Mac computer running OS X 10.4 (Tiger), OS X 10.5 (Leopard), OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), OS X 10.7 (Lion) or OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion). You don't need any additional software to get your photo booth up and running.

The computer does not need to be particularly powerful to run the photo booth software. Any single or dual core PC capable of running Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista or Windows XP with USB 2.0 ports should be fine e.g. a budget dual core laptop with at least 2GB RAM and a processor speed of 2GHz. The software will run on a netbook computer but may take longer to prepare the photos for printing than a faster computer. If you are planning to capture and playback HD video or to use greenscreen you may need a more powerful computer.

For professional results we suggest using a dye sublimation printer: the cost per print is much cheaper than an inkjet, the prints are more durable and photo-like and the printing is generally much faster. A photo quality inkjet printer is fine for occasional use, e.g. a one off party, but is rather slow and expensive in ink and paper. Popular dye sublimation printers include the HiTi P510L, DNP DS40, DNP DS RX1, Mitsubishi CP-D70DW, Fujifilm ASK2000, Shinko S2145, Sony CX-1/SnapLab and Sony UP-DR200. Some printers can print 6"x2" strips which is ideal for photobooth use. At the time of writing following printers can print 6"x"2 strips: DNP DS40, DNP DS RX1, HiTi P510 and HiTi P720L, Mitsubishi CP-D70DW, Sony UP-DR200 and Shinko S2145.

Getting Started

Photobooth Setup Wizard: The quickest way to get started is to use the photobooth setup wizard which creates all the screens and the print layout needed to run your photobooth. Simply select "Photobooth Setup Wizard..." from the "File" menu to run the wizard. Please see the help files for full details. The help file can be displayed by running the program and selecting "Contents..." from the "Help" menu.

Please see the quick start guide for creating a traditional double strip of 4 photos and adding logos if you just need to create the print layout.

The rest of this article explains how to use Breeze Systems' photobooth software to produce the traditional style photobooth strip below. The example uses DSLR Remote Pro for Windows with a Canon EOS 1000D/Rebel XS camera. Follow the same steps for DSLR Remote Pro for Mac, NKRemote, PSRemote or Webcam Photobooth.


Basic settings

The example used for the rest of this article shows how to create a color photo booth strip consisting of two columns of four images printed on 6" x 4" paper with a logo beneath each column. Start off by running DSLR Remote Pro for Windows and select File->Photobooth Settings... to display the dialog below:

In this example we want to have four photos in the sequence and to print them out as two strips of four images side by side and so we set the number of images to 4, the rows to 4 and the columns to 2. Then select "Repeat images to fill empty columns" so that the four images in the first column are repeated to fill the second column.

Don't worry about the other settings at this stage. All we need to do is set the folder containing the header, footer and backgound images to a convenient location where we can edit the various images displayed to the user and used for the printed output. In this example we've set it to "C:\Users\Chris\PhotoboothImages".


Setup the printer

First setup your printer defaults for photobooth printing. To do this go to the Windows Control Panel and select "Printers" then right click on the printer, select "Properties" and click on the "Printing Preferences..." button and a dialog similar to the one below will be displayed:

Now set the paper type, output quality and paper size (6" x 4" in our example) as required. Some printers have a range of different resolutions and it is important that the horizontal and vertical resolutions are set to the same values otherwise the final prints will be distorted e.g. the default resolution for the DNP DS40 dye sublimation printer is 300 x600 dpi:

The default print quality for the DNP DS40 is 300 x 600dpi. This needs to be changed to 300 x 300dpi otherwise the photobooth prints will be distorted

Correct settings for the print quality for the DNP DS40 printer with the horizontal and vertical resolutions set to the same values: 300 x 300dpi

 

When all the printer is configured correctly press the "OK" to save the settings as the default settings for the printer.

Note: The layout of the images depends on the size, in pixels, of the printed output and this in turn depends on the paper and quality settings specified in the printer driver. If you design a layout based on one set of printer settings and later change the printer settings the printed layout probably won't be as expected. Therefore it is a good idea setup the printer defaults ready for photo booth printing. This will avoid the need to adjust the printer settings every time the photo booth software is run.


Design the screens the user sees

The screens displayed to the user are defined by a series of JPEG images stored in the photo booth images folder ("C:\Users\Chris\PhotoboothImages" in our example). You can either create your own screens or base them on the sample images in the photo booth images folder.

Our example setup consists of four photos and requires the following screen images:
ready.jpg - this is displayed when the photo booth is ready for the next user and normally has simple instructions telling the users what to do.
1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.jpg, 4.jpg - these images are displayed during the countdown before each picture is taken once the photo booth sequence has started. 1.jpg is displayed during the countdown before taking the first picture, 2.jpg is displayed before taking the second picture etc. The countdown message defined in the photo booth settings is displayed centered on the screen during the countdown.
taking.jpg - this is displayed a couple of seconds before taking each picture and is usually used to display a message to tell the users to look at the camera.
release.jpg - optional image displayed when the instruction to take the picture is sent to the camera approximately 1 second before the picture is actually taken. The live view on most cameras will freeze just before the camera takes the picture and this can confuse some users. To avoid this, the software will automatically hide the live view display if a release.jpg image is defined.
processing.jpg - this is displayed after the last picture has been taken while the images are being prepared for printing. This screen could display a message like "All finished! Please collect your prints outside".
When the prints have been formatted and sent to the printer the ready.jpg image is displayed again.

The JPEGs should be the same size as the screen resolution - if they are smaller than the screen resolution the extra area will be displayed as a black border and a warning message will be shown in the bottom left hand corner. If the images are larger than the screen resolution the extra area won't be visible. You can check the screen resolution by right clicking on the Windows desktop and selecting "Personalize" then "Display Settings".

If the live view display option is selected the live view images will be displayed centered at the top of the screen and so any messages or graphics in the screen images should leave space for this otherwise they will be covered up by the live view images. With live view enabled the countdown message is centered in the space below the live view display.


Select an input method

There are a variety of input options for how to start the photo booth sequence but for this simple example we use the mouse.

There are two start options designed for using a mouse in the photo booth setup dialog:
1) "Left click anywhere to start" which only allows the user to start the sequence and prevents them from changing any of the settings
2) "Left click to start, right click to toggle B&W mode". This is the same as option 1 but also gives the user the ability to switch between black and white and color mode by pressing the right mouse button.

Note: For professional booths we recommend use of a touchscreen or a robust pushbutton such as the "StealthSwitch". Please see the article on "Input options" for more information.


Design the print layout

There are two methods of defining the print layout: the automatic layout option and the custom layout option. The automatic layout option is fine for simple layouts where all the images are the same size e.g. the traditional two strips of four images described in this section. The custom layout provides more precise control over the position and size of each image, supports image rotation and can be used for layouts made up of different sized images (please see the custom layout example below).

The easiest way to design the print layout is to select initial settings in the photo booth setup dialog and then take a set of test images and compare the output with the desired layout. In our example we want to print two identical strips of four images side by side on a 6" x 4" sheet of paper. To do this we set the number of images to 4, the number of rows to 4 and the number of columns to 4 (in the photo booth settings dialog). We also selected "Repeat images to fill empty columns" so that the 4 images in the first column are repeated to fill the second column.

Now connect the camera to the PC, run DSLR Remote Pro for Windows and press Shift+F4. This will take a test sequence and save the print layout in the file "photobooth_test_shot.jpg" in the output folder defined in DSLR Remote Pro for Windows' preferences (the location of the test shot is also displayed in the status line at the bottom of the main DSLR Remote Pro for Windows window). Here is the result from our first test shot:

The basic layout is fine but we have a small white gap between the two columns and a larger gap between each row. The layout would look better if all the images butt up together without any gaps. The "Image border" setting in the photo booth settings dialog is set to 1mm and this is causing the gap between the two columns. Let's try setting this to 0 and press Shift+F4 to update the layout. This is what we get now:

This is a bit better - the gap between the columns has gone but we still have gaps between each row. Tthe images have been resized to fill the width of the page but the page height is bigger than the combined heights of the 4 images. There are two ways we can correct this:
1) crop the images so that they fill the available printing area
2) add a header or footer with a suitable logo or contact information to fill the spare space

Let's try option 1 first. In the photo booth settings dialog select the "Crop image if required to fit printable area" option and press Shift+F4 to update the layout. This gives the following layout:

This fills the page but a small amount has been cropped from the left and right of each image. Let's try the other option and add a footer to the bottom of the page. First go back to the photo booth settings dialog and uncheck the "Crop image if required to fit printable area" option. Next update the layout by pressing Shift+F4 and load the "photobooth_test_shot.jpg" layout image into an image editor such as Photoshop. What we need to do is create a footer image which is the same width as the layout and whose height is the same as the gaps between the rows. Using the image editor you need to measure the gaps (in pixels) at the top of the page, the bottom of the page and between each row of photos. In this example the gap at the top of the page was 50 pixels, the gap between each row was 100 pixels and the gap at the bottom of was also 50 pixels which gives a total of 400 pixels (50 + 100 + 100 + 100 + 50). The width of the image is 5040 pixels. This means we need a footer image 5040 pixels wide by 400 pixels high to fill the gaps. To test this create an image 5040 x 400 pixels, fill it with a bright color and save as a JPEG named footer.jpg in the photo booth images folder ("C:\Users\Chris\Documents\Photobooth images" in our example). Press Shift+F4 to update the layout and we get:

This is exactly the layout we were after: the images fit together with no gaps and there is space at the bottom where we can include our logo. All we need to do now is edit the footer to add our logo and the final result is:

 

Custom Layout

The custom layout option gives you precise control over the size and position of each image and can be used for layouts like the one below:

First check setup the printer to the desired paper size and print quality. For this example we used a Canon iP4200 inkjet printer and set the paper size to 6 inches x 4 inches in landscape orientation. Next select the "Custom layout" option in the photobooth settings dialog and click on the "Settings..." button to display the custom layout dialog:

Click on the "Print Info..." button to display the size of the page in pixels - in this example it is 3718 pixels wide and 2478 pixels high. Our layout has three evenly spaced images along the bottom with a small gap between them. We can calculate the size and spaces of the images as follows:

Width of bottom images = (page width - 4 x border size) / 3
this gives: (3718 - 4 x 60) / 3 = 1159 pixels

In this example we are using a Canon powerShot camera with PSRemote and the image aspect ratio is 4:3 (images from Canon and Nikon digital SLRs have an aspect ration of 3:2). This means we can calculate the image height as 3 x image width / 4 or 869 pixels. Using this information we can find the position of the top of each image by subtracted the height of the image and the size of the border from the page height: 2478 - 869 - 60 = 1549.

Next we need to position the first image. The left and top values are simply the same as the size of the border (60 pixels). We can calculate the height of the image using the top position of the other images: 1549 - 2 x border size = 1429.

Press the "Preview" button to preview the layout on screen or press "Print Test Page" to print the layout.

Finally we need to add the logos and captions. This can be done be creating a background.jpg image the same size as the page in pixels (3718 x 2478) and editing it in a image editor. We don't need separate header and footer images and so we can delete the header.jpg and footer.jpg images from the photobooth images folder.

Please see the section on "Printers and print layout" for worked examples of different layouts that can be created using the custom layout option.


Next article: What the user sees (and hears)


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Using photo booth mode in DSLR Remote Pro for Windows, DSLR Remote Pro for Mac, PSRemote, Webcam Photobooth and NKRemote