Photo to Movie 4.1.7, by LQ Graphics
Posted: 28-Dec-2008

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: LQ Graphics Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Michael Krayewsky Class: PRODUCTIVITY

Overview
Photo to Movie (PTM) turns your digital photos into spectacular quickTime movies. PTM gently zooms and pans across your photos, blending them together while moving from one photo to another. Your photos come alive in a way that will grab and impress your audience. Its time to forget the traditional static photo slide shows and use PTM to add reality and liveliness to your photos, allowing you to focus on important parts of the photo.

PTM is intended for anyone who has used iPhoto or iMovie and wants more control. PTM gives you custom control over your slide show and produces significant;y higher quality movies. It is simply to use. Select and drag in a number of photos, and start adjusting the timing and motion, add music of your choice from your iTunes library and when your done, save it as a movie for importing into iDVD and making a DVD of your finished product.

Primary Features

  • Brings the power of Hollywood effects (motion effects, transition)
  • Create movies from your photos, easy export to DVD
  • Choose any audio format supported by Quicktime technology
  • Add soundtracks by dragging in music using the media browser
  • Utilizes Mac OS X font technology for all text
  • Standard or High Definition widescreen rendering
  • Built-in preview of rendered movie
  • Focuses attention of specific parts of a photo
  • Smoothes and steady motion paths in a photo


PTM was developed by LQ Graphics, Inc. in Dublin, CA. PTM costs $49.95 for a first time license, and $29.95 for an upgrade if you purchased PTM before Jan 1, 2007. It is available for both Macs and PCs. A downloadable demo version is available. For this review, PTM 4.0.9 was provided for use. However, after reviewing the new features in PTM 4.1 and knowing I will never again use the less versatile iLife suite (iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD), I went ahead and paid the $29.95 and upgraded to 4.1.6 (and then applied the free update to 4.1.7 laster, as it became available). Note, that going from 4.0.9 to 4.1.6 cost 60% of the purchase price which seems a bit unbalanced.

System Requirements (PTM 4.0.x)

  • Mac OS X 10.3 or later
  • G4 1GHz, 768MB RAM recommended, 128MB VRAM
  • CD-ROM required for retail version


System Requirements (PTM 4.1.x)

  • Mac OS X 10.4 or later
  • An Intel processor and core image compatible graphics card is recommended, but not required.
  • G4 1GHz, 768MB RAM recommended, 128MB VRAM
  • CD-ROM required for retail version


Setup
Installation was straight forward and simple. The software is distributed as a disk image. You click on the disk image and are greeted with a window which includes a pdf of a Users Guide, the PTM application and a Read Me file which identifies the new features in that version, where to report bugs to and a set of Release notes for that version and prior versions. I created a PTM 4.0 folder in my application folder and simply dragged the three (3) files into it. Everything to run and use PRM is self-contained within the application itself.


In Use
Upon launching PTM 4.1.6 or 4.1.7, you are greeted with the following window:


Main Photo to Movie window


There are three main sections:

  • The edit window is at the top left. This is where you drag and drop your images to, and edit your photo.
  • The Inspector is in the top right. This is where you inspect and control the motion in your photos, the timing of your effect, transitions and music.
  • The timeline is along the bottom. This is a graphical representation of your production. It lets you see the motions, transitions, titles and audio elements in your movie production. You can use it to alternatively drag in your photos (as opposed to using the upper left window) or to drag in your audio files. Once the photo's and audio have been dragged in, you can slides , use this window to move and position them to your liking. The figure below shows the photo I've been working on in the edit window, the timing of the song that I applied to the photo in the upper right, and the photos and songs that I have applied across my movie production.


Photo to Movie in action

Between the upper and lower windows are groups of buttons which provide the following capabilities:

  • The two left most buttons are the key frame panel. You use the key frame panel to select the key frame to edit. PTM allows you to work with two different editing vies: the multiple key frame view (left button( and the single frame vies (right button). The single key frame view displays only the portion of the photo visible for the selected key frame. You cannot see the motion path in this view. The multiple key frame view allows you to edit many aspects of the motion of your photos.
  • The middle suite of buttons are controls for previewing your movie production. The outermost buttons are for moving to either the beginning or end of your movie; the second button is play/pause, while the third is for playing in full screen mode. Pressing the spacebar will stop of play for movie.
  • The rightmost suite of buttons allow you to view the media browser, record audio, add title, get document info, make a movie and get help.


The media browser allows you to browse photos and audio on your computer to make it easy to add them to your movie production. The Photos option (to the left in the figure below) in the media browser allows you to browse for photos in your iPhoto, Aperture, and Adobe Lightroom libraries, as well as in your Pictures folder and custom folders to the browser. The Audio option (to the right in the figure below) in the media browser allows you to browse for music in your iTunes library, your Music folder, and any iLife or iMovie sound effects that you have installed.


Photo to Movie media browser (photos and audio)


The record audio button allows you to record a voice narration directly into PTM. This option uses the microphone in your computer or a compatible microphone that you may have installed as an add-on.


Photo to Movie recorder


The Add title button allows you to add a title to your movie. You can edit the start time, duration, or end time of each title, and the fade in and fade out durations, the position of each title, the appearance of each title by editing the text itself and adjusting the font, size, style, justification, leading, color, and transparency of the text. The titles appear as the green boxes below the photos and below the audio if there is any audio. You can select one or more titles and change the start time and the fade in/out times using the inspector. You can copy and paste titles. You can also add additional editing tracks for titles.


Adding a Title


The document info button allows you to change the aspect ratio of your movie, the background, the size of your movie and the frame rate. For aspect ratio, you can select either standard (4:3) or widescreen (16:9) from the pop-up menu item. To set the background for your movie, you click on the background color and select your color. To set the movie size, enter your 'w' width and 'h' dimensions. Standard movies should be set for 640x480. High Definition movies should be set for either 1280x720 (i.e. 720p) or 1920x1080 (i.e. 1080i or 1080p).


Document Info window


The make movie button allows you to export your movie to a variety of applications. Included are iMovie, iDVD, email, .Mac and Quicktime. Be careful which option you select as the movie will take some time to make and will be of varying size. Make sure you have ample disk space to save your movie.The faster the computer and the bigger the disk storage, the happier you'll be.


Creating a Movie


Using the software
I used PTM to make a movie of our friends who recently got married. I started with a number of photo's taken with my Canon Power Shot SD870 IS digital camera. The sequence I followed to create the movie was as follows:

  • Used the Media browser to add my photo's which were imported into iPhoto and optimized using iPhoto's editing and adjust capabilities.
  • Set and adjusted the motion of and within the photos by editing the key frames.
  • Set and adjusted the transitions between the photos.
  • Added titles to separate the photo's into different events
  • Used the Media browser to add music from iTunes.
  • Adjusted the songs (length, fade-in, fade-out) to line up with the photo sections.
  • Rendered the movie for importing to iDVD.


Overall, using PTM was a pleasure to use. Using the media browser to import your photos was a cinch. Select the photo you want to use, then drag and drop them into the timeline. Once in the timeline, I opened the Key Frame panel via the view command, so that I could select the beginning frame as well as the end frame. I used this regularly throughout the movie. At one time, when I imported over a dozen photos into the timeline from the media browser, the program froze. At this time, only a few of the photos were correctly shown in the timeline. The other photos merely provided a message that they were loading. However, the loading never completed. I had to force quit PTM and upon, re-launching, I was surprised to see that they indeed did get imported and were correctly represented in the timeline.

In one sequence I wanted to pan across the photo while stopping at select places. To do this, I needed additional frames so that I could select different places within the photo that I wanted to pan around. This was done using the Key Frame panel (cmd-K). Simply select the first frame and click on the '+' to duplicate another frame using the same photo. I repeated this until I had 4 frames. In each frame, I selected the area that I wanted to zoom to. When I was finished, I wanted a smooth and steady pan from one frame to another. To do this, I selected each frame in the Key Frame panel and clicked on the Bezier and Smooth options. I repeated this for each frame of the photo. When I was done. I had a photo which panned from one area to another area, then to another area and finally to the last area that I wanted to highlight. For the first pan, I wanted to stop motion on that frame. To do this, I selected the 'Stop motion at this frame'. This allowed me to set the tone for the photo by stopping for a second or two before panning to the other areas. The photo that I used and the Key frame panel is shown below. Note the smooth Blue line which indicates the motion that the panning will take. At the bottom of the image below is the key panel sequence showing the four frames that were used.


Using Smooth Motion in Photo to Movie


As I defined in the sequence above, I focused on getting the panning correct in each photo, and when it was, I then imported the songs from iTunes that I wanted to use. I used the timeline to set the fade-in and fade-outs for the songs. When I was done, I used the 'Trim Audio' command to trim the audio that I did not use (as I used 6 songs in my movie, trimming out the pieces not used saved me over 10MB of space).

On my first use, I did experience an issue accessing my iTunes library. For some reason, I was not able to pull a few of my songs from my library. I verified that they were there by finding them in iTunes. This issue happened on only one night. The next night, I had no problem accessing these songs, and have not experienced this issue since. I also experienced one freeze of the application, but this occurred only once, and never repeated.

Documentation
Included with the download of PTM, is a 2.8 MB, 60-page pdf help file which is very well organized with excellent examples. Beyond the Introduction section are sections for for following. Each section is very well written with excellent examples of how to implement that capability.

  • Organizing your Movie
  • Using the Media browser
  • Working with the timeline
  • Working with Motion Paths
  • Working with Key Frames
  • Working with Transitions
  • Working with Audio
  • Working with Titles
  • Working with Quicktime VR
  • Managing your Movie
  • FAQ and troubleshooting


Also available on the
PTM website are three tutorials which give you an excellent overview of the PTM capabilities. I recommend these as it gets you in the proper mindset for making movies form your photos. Included are Introduction, Timeline and Motion Paths and Key Frames.

Summary
LQ Graphics Photo to Movie (PTM) gives you the simple ability to make professional and Hollywood movies from your stock pile of digital photos. PTM is much faster and easier than using iMovie or iPhoto. Prior to using PTM, I tried both iMovie and iPhoto and was frustrated in the time it took to do simple panning, not to mention that I could only pan from a beginning frame to an end frame. Adjusting the time and the overlaps was doable but not as effortless as in PTM. In addition, PTM allows you to pan, stop, and pan across the same photo a number of times so you can get the effect you want. No other application that I know of has the versatility and power of this program for performing pan and zoom effects to create movies. I highly recommend.

Pros

  • Very easy to use
  • Makes professional looking movies from your digital photos
  • Pans and zooms in a smooth and steady motion
  • Numerous export options to suit your taste

Cons

  • Costly Upgrade
  • Intermittent issues, such as accessing some iTunes songs


Overall Rating:

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice