Screen Saver Studio for Windows
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Screen Saver Studio Learning Center

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I saw your Swarm sample at www.screensaverstudio.com/free/ and would like to know how to make the background move like that.
You can find the sources to Swarm (as well as most all of our other free savers) at http://www.screensaverstudio.com/addon/ After downloading and installing the Swarm! project sources add on pack, load its project up and simply replace graphic slots 9 and 10 with your own images (they can even be the same identical image if thats what you want).

Why do my savers keep spontaneously exiting while using DirectX?
It may be because some older video drivers do not handle graphics that are wider or taller than the current display mode. If your saver works when the largest display size is chosen in Troubleshooting, then this is probably the cause. Try using a graphic size based on the screen or dividing the problem graphic up into different graphic slots. Be aware that text can also cause this problem.

I used to be able to use PCT files, but now I can't!
Sometimes my system freezes when I try to load an MPEG!
We discovered an interesting bug that concerns PCT files and MPEG (or MPG) files. The bug is that certain formats of MPEG files will cause your system to hang when you try to load them into Screen Saver Studio. We found that if we removed the LFPCT11N.DLL file then this problem no longer happens. So what we did for version 7 was to 'effectively' remove this DLL and now those MPEG files can be played without locking your system--but you can no longer use PCTs.

We did this by including (or renaming during upgrades) the original DLL file as LFPCT11N.DL --only one L! If you really NEED to use PCT files you can go and rename this file from an extension of DL to DLL. Make sure Screen Saver Studio isn't running before you do this! If you did the default install the file will be in the C:\Program Files\SSStudio directory. This will allow you to use PCTs again--but certain MPEGS will lock-up your system.

If Screen Saver Studio hangs on certain MPEGS you should make sure that LFPCT11N.DLL is renamed to LFPCT11N.DL in the SSStudio folder. Then search for LFPCT11N.DLL in your Windows folder because other programs may have installed it in the System folder. (You may have to do an advanced search to actually include the Windows folder, depending on your operating system.) If you find it somewhere in the system folder, then you need to decide whether or not to rename it since you could be breaking another program if you do. (If you DON'T rename it then your MPEG will still break.) If you DO rename it in the system folder, you will need to reboot your system.

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Problems with transparency and speckled graphics
My graphics are no longer completely transparent black--they are speckled! All the sample graphics you gave me, except the ANMs, do the same thing. What is wrong?

The problem is the Use Image Compression setting. When this is on, all the graphics are turned into JPGs, which causes the black speckling effect. (Animations are not converted and so will look okay.)

This is what happens when you check Use Image Compression and you have used black transparency anywhere in your screen saver--
Speckled Graphic

ALL graphics that use black transparency will be affected. Use Image Compression is only meant to be used for slide shows or where you never use black transparency.

This also happens when you have JPGs in your screen saver and you use Keep Black Transparent on them.


You can still gain the advantage of small JPG file size if you make graphics that never have to use Keep Black Transparent into JPGs in an art program. Thus, if you want to use a large BMP as a background, make it into a JPG and it will be smaller in file size and since it can't be made transparent speckling cannot happen.

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How do I make a graphic transparent?
Since Screen Saver Studio now supports transparent GIFs, the easiest way is to use an art program to make a transparent GIF! You need to check Keep Black Transparent (regardless of the color you actually set as transparent) for it to be displayed transparently--your transparent color is automatically replaced with black.

If you need to make a transparent BMP, the obvious thing is that you need to fill true black (RGB of 0, 0, 0) into all the areas you want transparent. What is not so obvious is that you also must make sure that all colors internal to the picture that you don't want to be transparent are made "near-black"--RGB 12, 12, 12 or greater.

Here's what we do when the art department gives us images to be turned into animations. (We use Paint Shop Pro, though other art programs should be able to do similar things.)

  1. Find a high intensity color--bright red, green, yellow or blue--that is not in your original image.
  2. Fill that color into all the areas you want to become transparent black in the final image.
  3. If the original image is greater than 256 colors, reduce it to 256 colors.
  4. Select true black (0,0,0) and make it the background color of your palette.
  5. Find a "near-black" color--at least 12,12,12--in your palette or change an entry to 12,12,12 and make it the foreground color of your palette.
  6. Use the color replace tool with a tolerance of "12" to change all the true black in your image to your near-black color. (The 12 tolerance changes colors like 2,2,3 which would otherwise become transparent.)
  7. Fill true black into all the high intensity areas which form your transparent areas. (Or turn the palette entry for that color into true black.)
  8. Save it as a BMP. You can RLE compress the BMP or not, BUT, if this is a frame of a future ANM file, they all need to be saved the same way. Note that you can't save it as a JPG since the JPG compression will distort all the work you just did! And if you start with a JPG and try to make it transparent you have to make sure you clean up all the "speckles" around the edges you want to be black.

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Adding falling snow to your screen saver
Many of you have asked how to add falling snow to your screen savers--perfect for holiday or winter screen savers. To learn how, download the special tutorial file we have prepared.

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Ways to reduce the file size of your screen saver
Make sure that you make as many graphics as possible JPGs. Graphics that are going to use the Keep Black Transparent feature should not be JPGs. If you are not using the transparency feature anywhere in your screen saver, Use Image Compression automatically converts ALL graphics in your screen saver to JPGs. If you are a Screen Saver Studio Pro user you can set the compression factor used for all the JPGs in your screen saver to make their file size smaller.

Use the % size of graphic feature where you can to keep from duplicating images--especially animations. Our "Swarm!" screen saver has three different size bees buzzing across the screen, but they are all the same animation--just at 100%, 66% and 52% of its original size.

If you use WAV files, make them as small a format as possible that keeps acceptable quality. i.e. 22 KHz or 11 KHz instead of 44 KHz, mono instead of stereo, etc. Similarly for MP3s--use a lower sampling rate to make the file size smaller and to make playback smoother.

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Image size tips
Try to make images as small as possible and yet still convey enough to be effective. Remember that some people will be running in 640 x 480 screen size, so plan accordingly! Use 72 DPI resolution when scanning or creating new images. BMPs should be 256 or even 16 colors. When working with JPGs, save them as either High Quality or Low Compression or with a Compression Factor of 15 depending on your art program. This gives you a better idea of the size that your files will be when Screen Saver Studio uses them since it internally uses a factor of 15. (If you have the Pro version, you can set the compression factor yourself).

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How to make your screen saver available to others on your homepage:
Putting up screen savers you create is just as easy as putting up your web page itself. When you create the screen saver with Screen Saver Studio, select to make an installer of it. The .EXE file that is generated is the file you want to put up on your web site so people can get it. Put it in your web directory just like any other file (.HTML, .GIF, etc.) This can be done with any FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program. Probably whatever program you use to put up your web pages can also put up your screen saver.

Let's say you've created your screen saver as 'myss.exe'. Then use your FTP program to upload myss.exe to the same place as your web pages, the graphics in your web pages, etc. (e.g., 'index.html', 'logo.gif', etc.) To make this file available to your users, put a link on your web page like you would to any other file on the web:

<A HREF="myss.exe"> Download My Screen Saver Now! </a>

Note that most web servers are case-sensitive, so you need to type in the filename exactly as it is when you upload it; if it's all lowercase like 'myss.exe', do it that way, but if it's uppercase like 'MYSS.EXE' you need to type in the name that way.

If you're going to be putting up lots of downloadable files in your web site, you might want to create a subdirectory for them; most FTP programs have a "Create Directory" button you can use for that. If you create a directory "ssavers" and put your download files in it, then you'd refer to them on your web page as:

<A HREF="savers/myss.exe"> Download it now! </a>

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Problems with disappearing graphics, keeping continuous motion
A frequent problem is that you make a segment that introduces graphics; then you add a new segment and the old graphics just disappear and restart in a new location. The way to fix this is to set the Graphic Starting position to Keep Old (in both the X and Y coordinates) in the new segment when you want a graphic to continue moving smoothly from the previous segment.

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Stop and start Animation
I am doing an animated cartoon screen saver and want to know how you get the cartoon to walk to the edge of the screen (without going right off the screen) and then turn around and walk the other way.

The trick here is using the User Defined motion. You can set it to be 0 for X, 10 for Y which means move to the right at a speed of 10. Check the Bounce box on and set the timing to 1 cycle of your cartoon guy. When the segment ends, he'll be at the edge of the screen.

The next segment uses Keep Old starting coordinates and sets the motion to 0 for X, -10 for Y to go back the other direction. You would also pick the cartoon that makes him walk the other way, too.

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How do I get it to play a song and then go on to another segment?
Load your audio file and set it to play Once. Then in the Timing Tab, select 'Stop after Audio has played.' The segment graphics must still fade out after the song ends, so if you are using the Jukebox a new song will start playing while you watch the graphics fade out. So either use no fade-outs or very fast ones if that is undesirable.

You have to be careful not to have any fade-in or fade-out effects on any graphic or text in any of the segments because that extends the duration unpredictably. On slower systems, using large graphics may slow it down so the song finishes before all the segments do, so it will never be exact. However, if you have just a slide show with NO motion, you could set the duration of the segment to 0 and the update rate to 60000--which is 60 seconds--to keep the timing loss on slow systems as small as possible. (It will only update the screen every 60 seconds, so it only draws the slide once.)

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I want to put text on the screen left justified, how do I do that?
With the new RTF controls you click in the text you want left-justified and then click on the left justification tab. Note that each paragraph shares the same justification, though you can make different words or letters in it be different sizes, color or fonts. If you want two separate justifications, you need to make a new paragraph by adding a carriage return. i.e. pressing Enter.

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How do I use the hyperlink function in the Professional version?
The hyperlink works as follows:

You can set the twelve function keys (F1-F12) to point to any twelve URLs. Any time while the screen saver is running, if the user hits one of those keys it will launch the browser and go to the URL corresponding to that key. Of course, you need to tell the user to hit a particular function key somewhere in the screen saver!

NOTE! When a screen saver with hyperlinks runs under Windows NT, or Windows 2000 the links will NOT connect due to the way security on these systems is implemented. On Windows XP the connection will not be made if they have "password protection" or "return to login screen" turned on, but it should connect otherwise.

You may also set a "hot-link" that shows up in the setting dialog. This one will connect on all systems--even the NT based ones--and shows up as underlined blue text.

You always have to specifiy the full URL, which means having the opening "http://" and the final ".com" or whatever. We don't assume the opening "http://" so that you can link to anything from an "http://" to an "ftp://" etc.


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How do I get the background to be full screen and not tile?
If you want to select a photo for a background, you can choose the Stretch to Fit option. This insures that no matter what resolution the system is when the screen saver starts, the photo will fill the entire screen.

If the photo is very small and it has to stretch a lot to fill the screen, you will see large pixels and "jaggies." If the photo is larger than the final screen size, it will get "squeezed" and may lose its proportions. In general, it is better to have a large photo shrink than to expand a small photo.

You could put a photo in slot 10 as a substitute background and new in version 6 or above, you can stretch it to fit the screen proportionately. So a tall skinny graphic would hit the top and the bottom of the screen but the edges would show the background.

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Why are my animated GIFs moving too slow or too fast?
Screen Saver Studio does not exactly support the timing information in animated GIFs. Older versions ignored it entirely--version 6 or above does a pretty good job of approximating it. A new frame of the GIF can be played only during each update, but the GIF itself may have a delay that doesn't correspond very well with the update rate. You can change the update rate of your segments to get as close as possible to what the GIF should be, but remember that this affects all the objects in the segment!


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Why are my MP3s breaking up when played?
You are probably doing too much at one time. You can either reduce the number of graphics you are displaying, or increase the update rate found in the segment's Timing tab. If you are in the 3D Wizard, try reducing the size of your objects, the number of objects, the number of unique images on your objects or better yet, check the Use Less System Time on Images box in the Movement page.


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How can I make my images all line up and behave the same way for any screen resolution?
If you are trying to line up moving objects to meet and/or interact at just the right time on any screen resolution, you will probably want to use the Display Size feature. The Display Size box allows you to define a size for the rectangle that will contain all of the action of your screen saver. This rectangle will be centered on the screen and may (depending on the current screen resolution) be larger or smaller than the monitor.

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I get a "Some support files are missing" error during installation of a screen saver.
Read this topic and the one below for possible explanations...

The installer could be corrupt. If you downloaded it, you may not have received it all or it is corrupt in another way. Uninstall it, download it again and reinstall it.

If you are on an NT-based system (Windows NT, Windows 2000 or Windows XP) you need to be an administrator to install a screen saver. Version 6 screen savers will not install at all on these systems unless you are an administrator. (If you're not an administrator you get a dialog saying that you need administrator privileges to install it.) Screen savers made with older versions of Screen Saver Studio, however, will try to install the screen saver regardless. Sometimes it will install and work, other times it will give the missing files error. (It has to do with exactly what permissions you have, what OS is running and if the hard-drive is FAT or NTFS.)

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Problems with screen saver file names that start with "3d", "ss", or have a "." in them
We found a couple of weird, undocumented naming conventions that can affect your screen savers when they are run under Windows NT, Windows 2000 or Windows XP.

If you start a screen saver name with "3D" the installation may confuse the operating system. Usually the first time you install a screen saver that begins with "3D" it will work and the ones installed after it will fail..

When one of these fails, the settings dialog won't be complete and it will then say some files are missing! In actual fact, the entire screen saver probably WAS installed and could be run by going to the WINNT directory and double-clicking on it. But it can't be run from the screen saver list; nor will it kick-in properly.

The only way to fix it is to go in by-hand and rename the .SCR file, rename the directory in WINNT\SSSTUDIO\ that is the screen saver name and rename the .DAT in that directory all to some new name. Just uninstalling it and re-installing it won't work.

A second problem is using periods in the screen saver name. This would most likely occur if you made a new version of a screen saver and called it "My Screen Saver v2.0". This works fine under Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows ME--but the NT based operating systems complain that there are files missing! So just don't put periods in ANY screen saver names.

An oddity that exists for all the operating systems is that if you start a screen saver name with "SS" then in the screen saver list it shows up without the "SS" in front of it! On the NT systems--you guessed it--this causes the missing files message.

Version 6 or above does not allow you to name a screen saver in any of these ways! If you come across a screen saver that does have a bad name, you may want to contact the person who made it to get a renamed version.

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Making a default screen saver
I downloaded the demo version of your screen saver maker last week. It seems to work fine, but I'd like to know if once the screen saver is created, if you can use it as the default screen saver? Also, when you open the "display" section of the control panel, there's a configuration button to set characteristics. Will it work with this software? What kind of file is created along with the screen saver to accomplish this task?

Screen Saver Studio builds an actual .SCR file that can be set as the default screen saver in the control panel. It has a normal settings dialog that allows you to apply the password or to turn sound on or off if the screen saver has sound in it. Each screen saver has at least a .DAT file associated with it, and if your screen saver uses movies or certain audio files, then these and the .DAT file are placed in a special subdirectory determined by what operating system you are running under.

If you build the screen saver as an "installer" then Screen Saver Studio Deluxe makes a single EXE file. You can choose to use compression on this installer to make it even smaller! When someone runs the installer all the files are installed into the correct places and the screen saver is set as the default screen saver on the system! (But see below.)

Screen Saver Studio Pro users can build screen savers that add some extra controls to the setting dialog: either length of time to display an image or what size to make the image. The Pro builder can determine which, if any, of these controls are in effect.

When you install a screen saver as an administrator on Windows NT, Windows 2000 or Windows XP (only administrators are allowed to install screen savers), the screen saver is available to All Users; however, it is the default screen saver only for the Current User. i.e. other users would have to select it themselves.

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