You have all of
those wonderful photos taken with your fancy new digital camera, and now you wish
to share these with your friends and family and impress them with your multimedia
skills. Recognizing that a bunch of photographs is boring, you want a slide show
with music and the "Ken Burns effect". This effect enlivens still photographs
by allowing panning and zooming across and between photographs. (Ken Burns did not
originate this effect, but his brilliant Civil War and Baseball documentaries drew
attention to it.) Even the simplest
motion can enliven viewing of pictures. Really impressive to your family is panning
and zooming from those surrounding grandma to focus on her blowing out the candles
on her birthday cake. The final action of setting this to the music of "Happy
Birthday", and timing the end of the song to the extinguishment of the candles is the ultimate
dramatic effect. Seeing the delight on Grandma's face when she views the movie is
While the basic capabilities of creating slideshows with music from photos are already
included in Apple's iPhoto, LQ Graphics' Photo to Movie provides more control than
is available from iPhoto.
- Multiple zooms/pans
over a single photo
- Movie preview
- Control over slide
- Ability to add sound
- Bezier editing tools
to control motion path
- Ability to save movies
in multiple formats in standard (4:3) or widescreen (16:9) mode
- Mac OS 10.3 or higher
- G4 1GHz
- 768MB RAM and 128MB
Setup is straightforward. The installation package includes the application, a Readme
file, a PDF help file, and sample movie. The application is simply dragged to the
Applications folder. On launch I was prompted that a newer version was available.
I downloaded the newer version (3.3.1) and relaunched. The application prompted for
a license code. I entered my license code and the software registered itself with
the vendor. (There is an option to run in demo mode.)
On launch a blank
editing screen is displayed. Images or audio files may be dragged onto the screen
from the Finder or, in the case of photos, from iPhoto.
Photo to Movie workspace with a single picture dragged into it
There are two initial key frames established by default. A key frame is the frame
indicating how much of the picture will be displayed during movie playback. In the
figure above, the outer green frame is the starting position and the smaller red
frame is the ending position. The blue arrow in the middle of the image shows the
direction of motion. The green and red key frames are equivalent of the "start"
and "end" settings available for the iPhoto version of the Ken Burns effect.
Motion settings are shown in the upper right of the screen and the timeline at the
bottom. Key frames may be viewed in multiple key frames as above or as single key
frames as shown below.
Photo to Movie - Single Key Frame
In the Single Key
Frame view, position and size can be controlled by the tools on the right. The image
may also be repositioned by dragging in the image window. There is a control that
enables the rotation of a key frame. a capability not found in iPhoto. (Rotation
can also be performed using the mouse.)
Adding a second photo to the project is sufficient to highlight the major features
of Photo to Movie. In this project, I dragged in a second photo and added several
additional key frames. While the two default key frames are again displayed as green
and red, each new key frame is displayed with it's own color. In the example below,
the second picture has 5 key frames.
Multiple Key Frame Display
Each key frame is color coded to provide identification when superimposed on the
original photo. Clicking on the "+" of a key frame adds a new frame to
the right, the "X" deletes the frame. Note also that the vertical bar between
frames indicates the transition between frames. A total of 12 transition effects
are available (compared to 13 in iPhoto). As with any multimedia project, transitions,
other than the default "Crossfade" (equivalent iPhoto's "Dissolve"),
can be annoying if not used carefully. The blue arrow represents the transition between
key frames. Each transition can be edited for duration, pausing before or after,
or ease in or out. The latter represents a gradual acceleration of the motion. Apple's
iPhoto only provides control over duration.
Zoom snapshot of Photo to Movie Timeline
Editing is performed
by selecting and dragging, or by selecting and editing settings. Bezier controls
allow precise definition of the motion between frames. A timeline provides a detailed
view of the timing. In the example above, the play marker (shown at 0:09.03")
allows precise positioning to manually view the movie. The highlighted blue lines
to the right of the marker show the effects of adding pauses before and after as
well as both ease in and ease out. Also note that the second photo starts displaying
in the middle of the timeline for the first. This represents the dissolve starting
in the middle of the first photo's time interval. Editing again may be performed
by selecting and dragging in the timeline view or by selecting and using the editing
Photo to Movie also supports adding audio tracks. In my project, I placed a 6 minute
audio into the movie, adjusted the start and end portions to pick out the 40 second
portion I wanted to use for the movie, and did a "trim" to remove the excess
audio before and after the movie. I figured this out in spite of finding no documentation
on the "Audio/Trim" command.
Timeline view with Audio Track
You can also edit
the audio track for volume. In the example above, the audio was set to fade in and
fade out at the beginning and end of the audio track. For the final touch, I inserted
blank images at the beginning and end of the project to give a fade from/to black
In using Photo to Movie, I experienced two crashes. One while editing the audio track,
and another during the first save of the movie. Each operation succeeded on the next
attempt. This version Photo to Movie lacks the full screen available with iPhoto.
The movie preview also had some jerkiness that I have not scene in iPhoto. Finally,
in experimenting with some movie sizes, I observed some moire effects that I have
also not observed in iPhoto. The later may be an artifact of the additional formats
and sizes that Photo to Movie supports.
I would have liked to have seen a feature to fade or subdue the underlying photo
to better see the superimposed key frames and transition lines. A quirk in the interface
is between the Info "i" button that is used to set export preferences and
the "File/Export" command. The "File/Export" command exports
what was configured from the "i" button, no provision to define format
is provided when selecting this command.
Compared to iPhoto
To try out a large slide show, I dragged in 53 photos from iPhoto that I had edited
from last summer's vacation. The drag/drop from iPhoto worked with no difficulty.
The jerkiness in the preview was very evident as was some moire effects. The behavior
in iPhoto was much smoother. Rearranging photo order in Photo to Movie proved to
be a challenge. To move (or copy) a photo, it is necessary to select all of its motion
paths, do a cut (or copy), select a motion path where it is to be inserted, and then
do a paste. This action may pick up only some of the frames of a photo and may split
the frames of a photo at the insertion point. In moving around in the timeline view,
I first experienced a lot of spinning beach ball delay. Later on, the application
began to behave more smoothly. I suspect the delay occurred as thumbnail images were
being generated the first time. I created 240x180 pixel movies in both iPhoto and
Photo to Movie. Each movie had the default 2 key frame motion effect. Photo to Movie
took 5 1/2 minutes to save, created a 30.6 MB file and a movie that was 2'54"
in length. The iPhoto movies, which included the default sound track, saved in 1
1/2 minutes, created a 47 MB file, and a movie that was 3:31 in length. I'm willing
to consider this a virtual draw on the size, but iPhoto certainly wins on speed.
Most photo presentations can be enhanced by the Ken Burns effect. Photo to Movie
provides excellent capabilities but has some rough edges. It has a good interface,
good help files (in spite of some non-documented commands) and tutorials. It provides
the capability to create impressive movies, with sound, from still photographs. I
was able to quickly adapt to its user interface and be productive in creating movies.
The greater levels of control provided over iPhoto quickly became apparent. Jerky
preview, moire effects, and lack of a full screen preview in the current version
are its rough side.
Photo to Movie is an excellent addition to one's media toolbox for allowing anyone
not using iPhoto to add the Ken Burns effect to their repertoire. The decision is
more difficult for those using iWorks. If you are totally satisfied with movies produced
from iPhoto, you do not need this program. On the other-hand, if you need more control
than the iPhoto can provide, then this program is may answer your needs. Its ability
to create multiple key frames per photograph and precision control of the transition
between frames and photos far exceeds the capabilities of iPhoto. These come with
the need to depend on other tools for photo or sound editing and organization, Photo
to Movie is definitely not intended to be a photo organizer or editor. Embedded iPhoto
and ITunes viewers promised in Version 4 may improve this area.
Downloading the free 30 day demo and experimenting is well worth the time invested
for anyone producing slide shows.
- Interface is quickly
- Can drag from iPhoto
- Multiple key Frames
- Precise control over
transition between key frames
- Precise control over
- Documentation provides
- Precise control over
- Saves in a large number
- Can not drag from iTunes
(although this is apparently being added to the 4.0 version)
- Jerky on screen preview
- Some moire effect observed
- No full screen playback
(although this is being added to the 4.0 version)
- Documentation has some
- No pability to fade out
photos to better see key frames and transition arrows.
- A number of crashes experienced
- Must depend on external
photo/sound editing and organizing tools
3 1/2 out of 5 Mice