One of my favorite things to do, as I’ve written about many times, is do things with my son. One of our favorite things to do together is visit the two ‘local’ amusement parks, Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens. When we go, I always grab a camera to take photos. I love taking photos, my son, though, is not as big a fan as I am. At any rate, I take lots of photos and am always looking for ways to share them.
One of the best photo tools I’ve used is Microsoft Photostory. Photostory was a free application that allowed you to make pretty nice animated slide shows. You had lots of options for special effects, photo enhancements, and you could even create a custom music soundtrack that was free from copyright and royalty issues so you could post your masterpiece on YouTube or other website. Unfortunately, it appears that Microsoft has discontinued this nifty piece of software. It is still available for download and does work with Windows Vista and Windows 7.
One of the nice things that Photostory did was produce the “Ken Burns” effect of panning around a photo. You could, literally, use one photo and tell an entire story using this effect.
Thanks to Lifehacker, I found another free application that lets you create animated slide shows from your photos. Called PhotoFilmStrip, the application allows you to build a slide show with as many photos as you want. You can rearrange them in any order you wish. Once arranged, you need to set up the ‘Ken Burns’ panning. And here’s where the application shows its weakness. You MUST use the panning effect. You can set the start and end pan at the same spot so the photo is static, but you cannot just import your photos and make a slide show. You’d get the upper quarter of the photo for both the start and end points.
Special effects are also sparse. You can make the current photo either sepia tone or black and white or choose no special effect. You can also set the duration that the photo is displayed and create a caption. Captions only show on DVD’s in DVD players that have the ability.
While the application may be sparse on features, it is incredibly easy to use. The end result is a nicely built video that, except for the omission of beginning and ending credits, looks fairly professional. The price is certainly right. If you are a longtime user of Photostory, this application is not for you and you should continue to use that application. If, however, this is all new, then this application is a really nice intro into video editing. It is easy, free and produces quality results.
Please note: this application works very well, but it is very slow. It took several hours to build a short video of four minutes out of about 40 photos. Also, used in conjunction with Windows Live Movie Maker, you can add sound and titles as well. You could also use Movie Maker 2.6 and add some nifty titles and insert other video as well.