PhotoFilmStrip animates still images

Give your photos the "Ken Burns" treatment with this unique freeware.

Filmmaker Ken Burns revolutionized historical documentaries by using subtle motion with sound overlays to bring life to old still photographs. Developer Jens Gopfert's PhotoFilmStrip uses what he calls the "Ken Burns" effect. This free slideshow maker actually creates movies out of your still images in three steps: select images, set motion paths, and create a video that can be saved in several high-quality formats, including full HD. You can also add music or other audio tracks and add comments in image subtitle fields.

PhotoFilmStrip's clean interface opened with a How to Start page that let us create a new project or open an existing one. Since it was our first time using the program, we obviously started with a new project by clicking the appropriate icon. We also opened the compiled help file, which included html tags that made it difficult to read. We recommend opening the Chrome HTML document version directly from the program's folder, if necessary. However, the program's wizards walked us through each step. We could drag and drop images directly into the program, which then displayed our selections in a preview panel along the bottom edge, with the first photo open in the main window. The program displayed the image twice in side-by-side windows, each with draggable selection windows. By selecting a smaller, slightly different part of the image and displaying them in sequence, it creates the effect that the image is moving. By selecting various effects, transition duration, and other settings, you can produce quite realistic illusions of motion and save them in formats that can be edited into longer productions and played back by anyone. The program offers options like Random Motion and user-defined duration.

Obviously, PhotoFilmStrip requires some practice to get things right, but we learned a few things right off the bat, such as using a series of similar images when possible for longer, more realistic motion simulation. We didn't figure out how to use an audio file with our slideshow; perhaps it's a command line option, which the program supports. It's certainly an intriguing video production tool that's a lot of fun just to fool around with, too.

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