I came across this piece of free software from Microsoft recently which allows you to create a video in under ten minutes. No camcorder is required or anything more than basic skills and a polished video is quickly produced from nothing more than one or more pics from your digital photo collection.
Introduced in late 2002 at a cost of $ 20 it proved to be a largely unheralded but excellent tool which sold over 1 million copies before version 2 was released in the fall of 2003. The newer version improved upon Photo Story’s ability to import a selection of photos, arrange and edit them in a time line, add narration, music, motion animation and transitions, and then save and share the finished video.
While the basic function of Photo Story are unchanged, Photo Story 3, released in 2004, is a much more full-featured product, with a surprising number of improvements over previous versions. Combined with the fact that it is now free to download and you have a great product for making quick, easy and good quality videos to use for promoting your website, product or service. This program is not aimed only at website owners but to anyone who wants to utilize their photo collection.
Once you’ve imported your photos, then you can exploit Photo Story’s functions. First, you can edit photos you’ve imported, using a set of action buttons under the monitor window. Second, you can remove the black borders in photos, especially those that are portrait oriented. Finally, you can save your project at this early stage of the Photo Story wizard. In the earlier versions you had to wait until you had added narration, titles, and music before you could save your project. This is great for people making large photo stories, as Photo Story 3 now supports up to 300 photos per story.
If you have not edited your digital photos before importing them into Photo Story you can do so in the program itself. Correcting color levels, correcting red eye, rotating and cropping and auto fix are available. You can also add effects such as sepia and washout to name just two. The ‘remove the borders’ is an auto cropping function that is available in this section of the software.
The next section allows you to add text to any or all of the photos in the time line. You have good choice of fonts, sizes and position of the text before moving on to the section where you can add voice narration. You can add narration to the entire story, stepping through the photos by clicking on each in succession as you talk, or just apply narration to specific photos, which is nice.
In Photo Story 3, you can customize both the panning and zooming effects for each photo, as well as the transitions between each photo. You do this using the new Customize Motion window, which provides per-picture configuration of both of these options.
In the Transition tab of this window, you can select between 48 transitions. You can also manually change the duration of each photo display and transition if you’d like to.
You apply music per picture if you desire. It also lets you create your own music using a unique feature that dynamically generates a soundtrack based on a selection of genre types, styles, bands, moods, tempo, and intensity. It then customizes that music to match its length to the length of the track of photo story to which it is applied. You can also add your own soundtracks from your collection.
When the ‘save your story’ phase of the Photo Story 3 wizard appears, you’re provided with a set of options that is both far more extensive than what was provided in previous versions. You can click the Settings button and select from a wide range of profiles, all way from 1024 x 768 (for computers) down to 160 x 120 (for smart phones)
Though Photo Story 3 is a wonderful tool, it’s not perfect. It can only be used In Windows XP and Vista and can only be downloaded to a computer with the OS activated. Output video files can only be saved in .wmv format but can be converted using 3rd party programs.
In conclusion you can make some great videos using just one digital photo or up to 300 photos. This gives so much opportunity to make a sales video as a Realtor for instance or to promote your website at video sharing sites like YouTube. But its use is only limited by your imagination.
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