Every once in awhile an application comes along that doesn’t really require much of a review, or commentary, or recommendation. Photo to Movie is it.
Get it. Try it. Buy it. Use it.
You’ll be pleasantly stunned at what you find with Photo to Movie. This application captures what the Mac experience is all about. Ease of use, simplicity, elegance, superb quality.
What’s Photo to Movie do?
First, it turns your digital photographs into absolutely stunning QuickTime movies. Still photos are dead. Finally. Photo to Movie literally makes still photos come alive with movement.
Wait! Isn’t that effect in iMovie? Isn’t iMovie free?
Yes. Sorta. Yes.
iMovie has a feature called the Ken Burns effect. Drag photos stored in iPhoto directly into iMovie. Then you can use the “effect” to add panning and zooming motion to the still photo. Go ahead. Try it. It works. It’s easy.
Now, try the same thing with Photo to Movie to see the difference.
It’s remarkable that a single feature in the “free” iMovie that comes with every Mac can look so pale in comparison to movies generated with Photo to Movie. I know, I know. I’m gushing.
It’s just that most of us take far more still photos than we do digital video movies. Yet, what we like to do is lump all those still photos into a slide show, save it as a QuickTime movie, burn it to CD or DVD and hand them out to friends.
“Photo to Movie carries that whole idea to the next level. Maybe two levels.”How do they look? Well, it’s a slide show. There’s not much there. If we’re good, we add a little music. If we’re creative we add some narration over the music. However, in the end it’s just a bunch of photographs that sorta slide together with music.
Photo to Movie carries that whole idea to the next level. Maybe two levels. You can gently ease into a photo, quietly and smoothly pan across faces on a photo, almost imperceptively zoom in or out and stop at just the right point; then dissolve into the next still photo.
Static slide shows with digital photos are dead.
Do you watch 60 Minutes on CBS? Note what the video producers do with old photographs woven into the story. Static photographs come alive with movement, character, and life. In just a few clicks you’ll get that same quality with Photo to Movie.
It’s not perfect. Yet.
I’ve got one gripe that I’ll come to in a moment. In the meantime, just trust me. You want this application on your Mac because there’s nothing quite like it anywhere. And it isn’t the feature list that makes it unique. It’s the smoothness and simplicity of using Photo to Movie that makes it a pleasure.
How easy is this to use? Easy.
Simply open Photo to Movie. Then open up iPhoto and select a digital photo. Drag and drop the photo from iPhoto into the Photo to Movie window. The window will show the photo and two rectangular outlines; one green, one red. These are Key Frame and Motion Path, respectively.
Grab the edge of either box with your mouse pointer and move it around, resize it larger or smaller. You’ll see a blue arrow going from green rectangle to red rectangle. That’s the path. Resize each rectangle and move them around in the larger window.
Then click the play button just below the main photo window.
Wow. Is that smooth, or what?
Below the video controls is a timeline that looks similar to the one in iMovie. There’s two photo-video tracks so digital photos can overlap and transition, one to the other. Below that there’s an audio timeline so you can add narration, music, an audio soundtrack.
The key value to Photo to Movie is the ease at which you can create stunningly beautiful video clips. Video clips, you ask?
Yes. Photo to Movie lets you string photo after photo together with zooms, fades, disolves, pans, and more. Save the finished product, then export it to DV (the format used by iMovie). It’s now a digital movie suitable for playing on your TV. The smoothness and quality of the video is truly remarkable and notably different than similar out put from iMovie.
Wait. There’s more.
Photo to Movie lets you add titles (character generation) with ease and precision that requires work, effort, and trial and error in iMovie. Titles drop in smoothly, and disappear at just the right moment. Any Mac font works fine; drop shadows and other effects and colors.
The list of features in the 3.1.8 version of Photo to Movie is extensive. Click Here for a Photo to Movie screenshot. Here’s my list of the good ones that make a difference.
• Pre-defined motion presets (makes it easy to get started)
• Preview in real time (better than iMovie)
• Position titles by dragging; on the photo or the timeline
• Create multi-segement motion paths or Bezier paths
• Control pan and zoom speed along a path
• Rearrange motion paths with simple cut and paste
• Any QuickTime photo format is OK (TIFF, JPEG)
• Odd sized photos and non-standard DPI also OK
• Zoom, pan, rotate key frames with the mouse (yes!)
• Enter specific values for precise control or eyeball it
What? That’s not enough? There’s much more. Audio waveforms, transparent fonts, and more. Once you’re done, simply export as a QuickTime movie. Photo to Movie plays nice with Final Cut Pro (or Express), and Roxio Toast Titanium so you can create great looking DVDs on a budget.
For $49.95 what’s missing?
Not much, but I’d love to have a feature called “audio scrubbing.” That’s where you can move a playhead over the audio waveform and hear the sound in slow motion (or fast). That way you can make disolves and transitions appear synchronized with the sound track.
I want audio scrubbing and asked the Photo to Movie folks to include it in a future release.
The publisher is LQ Graphics. They also develop Movie Archive and Image Surfer, both utility applications that pick up where Apple’s iLife suite of digital hub applications leave off. The true Mac experience is felt from beginning to end of Photo to Movie. So is the “try before you buy” feature. Try it as a fully working version (with a watermark on the exported video).
Try it. Click Here for the details page. Once you’ve tried Photo to Movie compare what it does vs. what you get with iMovie. Granted, iMovie is a digital “video” editor. Photo to Movie brings that process of “movement” to digital still photographs, so it’s not really apples to apples (so to speak).
Once you’ve tried it, drop us a note and let us know what you think. Click the Comments link below to share your thoughts with other readers.