Making Moving Pictures

      This was just going to be a simple review of a very powerful program for adding the “Ken Burns” effect or panning and zooming around a picture. PhotoToMovie ($49.95 for both PC’s and Mac) is such a powerful program for doing that, that people have been able to make commercials and DVD’s with it. And since the sight of our brand new granddaughter in the arms of her three great-grandmothers has made me unusually sentimental and intro- and retrospective these days, I thought I could just fly around an old copy of a photo of me in my great-grandmother’s arms to create that same feeling for others. You can see from the picture (click to enlarge) how easy it is to identify an area, set the timing, define the path, and move/zoom to the next point of interest. Easy enough to do for a quick blog post: here’s me in my christening gown, up to dad, over and around to grandma Brennan, and back to the lady who’s holding me, “Congratulations, Mrs. O’Brien, I just made you a great-grandmother for the last few years of your life!” One picture, one program, one post…what should I blog about next? But that approach does neither PhotoToMovie nor any of my great-grandparents justice.
     Now might be a good time to watch the version of the short video I did make with PhotoToMovie before I pick the program and the storytelling process apart.
     “Opportunity”  Download

     All I had to do was run my original version once to realize that the story in that picture wasn’t about my birth making a four generation photo op, but rather about the opportunities that all eight of my great-grandparents created for generations to come with their brave exodus to “Americay.” So, here is a little on what I refer to as the “classic” digital storytelling process (as opposed to my usual “Makin’ Movies” slant).
     -The writing comes first, then find some pictures to emphasize the words. In this case, the words were inspired by the picture or what lead up to that moment and has come to be since. In general, to get a good three minute video, write three pages, boil it down to five hundred words or half a page, then pace it with some good images and appropriate (soft) music. One long sentence did it for this video and if I waited to find just the right music (copyright clear, of course), my brand new granddaughter would probably be walking and talking, so no music this time. The video is also just a bit long, but I did kind of want to wallow in PhotoToMovie’s ability to move around a picture. Good digital stories should be tight and spend just enough time on images and words to make a point and then briskly move on. My timing here leans toward the melodramatic.
     -Black with no picture accentuates the words and heightens anticipation for the image to come or gives you time to ponder the image you just saw. I used it at the beginning and the end to do both and give some symmetry.
     I slipped in a picture of dad’s other grandmother at a younger age to put a “face” on the part about their immigration and balance my older picture on the other side of the four generations photo. I hope the black and white photos dissolving into color speak for themselves as the past, present and the future.
     You can see from the screenshot that there is a very familiar timeline to work with and the ability to add sound and some transitions. Consider a copy or two of PhotoToMovie for your media centers to let students really get into making still pictures a moving experience. The exported clip can easily be incorporated into any of your video editing programs to get the best of both worlds. I imported this PhotoToMovie project into iMovie so that I could time the words to the pictures better.


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