Using an Apple TV and a Flickr account to automate the display of student art work

flickrThe walls of our district offices are filled with student art – and I love that, but I’d really like to enable even more student art work to be on display.  So I spent some time yesterday connecting a Flickr account to a TV display.  The idea of is simple….  An art teacher could use a standard Flickr account ( to store photos of student projects.  If they create a set (sort of like a folder) of specific photos/projects, we can target that specific set to be displayed on a TV.  The teacher could then control which photos are on display at our offices and the TV would take care of automatically running the slide show.

We’ll most likely add some extra TVs for art work displays this fall, and my guess is that several of our schools will also be using the idea to display extra art work in their hallways.

Here’s the setup and tricks that we found related to it….

We used an Apple TV ($99) and an HDMI cable to connect to the TV.  Of course, the TV also has to have an HDMI connection.  Connect the Apple TV to the wireless network, then go to setting to make sure the Apple TV is set to never sleep.  In the screen saver settings, select Flickr for your screen saver, connecting to the specific Flickr account and set of photos you want to display.  I then set the display mode to random, which means that the way the photos are displayed will change approximately every hour.  For the Start After setting, I set it to 2 minutes, meaning that if someone activates the Apple TV, the slide show will automatically kick back in after 2 minutes.  I’ve let the screen saver run for several days on a TV display and so far it seems to run well and doesn’t ever break from the screen saver mode.  Looking forward to seeing more student art work….

UPDATE:  In further testing, we found that if the Apple TV is running continuously, then it doesn’t receive any new pictures that the teacher uploads to Flickr.  However, we solved that with a simple Christmas tree timer.  We set the timer to turn the Apple TV off each night at 1am for a few minutes, then power it back on.  As soon as its back on, it takes 2 minutes for slide show to kick back on and at that time it will look to Flickr to update all the photos.

9 thoughts on “Using an Apple TV and a Flickr account to automate the display of student art work

  1. dhl7538

    Student Artwork. Students are expected to engage in artistic practice inside and outside the classroom and studio. What follows are examples of student artwork .

  2. Leticia

    I believe the imaginative Walt Disney said that it is curiosity that directs us down new paths.
    I’m quite curious to explore this path with you and find exactly where it

  3. Phil

    thanks for your blog. i’m wanting to find a solution so that images are updated dynamically. Linking flickr to dropbox is not difficult, however Apple TV needs to check for new images and start playing them!

  4. Dan

    We use an icloud account for the photos and it will dynamically pick up the changes (deletions and additions) This is a little less cross platform than Flickr since it requires an Apple device, but it does give us the dynamic control of images.

    1. Brian Abeling Post author

      The only workorder that I’ve seen is to reboot the Apple TV, which I’ve done by buying a cheap christmas tree timer – set the pins to cut power during the middle of the night for whatever timeframe you need – and then it kicks the power back on early in the morning. When it reconnects to Flickr, it then updates with all the new photos.


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