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2014 Donald R. Snow

My Freeware Corner Notes are printed in our Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group monthly newsletter TAGGology and posted on my Family History Class Notes webpage , sometimes with updated information there.


Available from -- Click on the "en" (upper right-hand side) for English since it defaults to German.  Download and install the program on your computer.  Several video tutorials are at .

This is a very good and free program to make "Ken Burns"-style videos of your photos.  Ken Burns is the fellow who makes many videos for PBS.  He takes old still photos and by moving around in them, they appear to be moving and they hold your interest.  You can make videos like that with your own photos by using the free program Photo FilmStrip.  First select the photos you want in your video.  You can include as many or as few as you want, but keep in mind that each photo needs to be shown for a few seconds for people to see it.  I've found that the timing is determined by the music or soundtrack when I use one.  The soundtrack, if you use one, needs to be in either wav or mp3 format, since those are the only two formats the program accepts.  I've found music to use on the web, on YouTube, on CDs, and other sources, and then recorded and edited it for my videos using the freeware program Audacity -- -- which we discussed here in Sep 2013.  You can record a narration, if you want, and overdub it on music using Audacity.  The length of the soundtrack determines how long your video will be.  So divide the total time by the number of photos to get an average length for each.  Or, if you have done a narration/description of each photo, note the time when you want each photo to start.  By subtracting the times you get how long each photo has to be on the screen while the narration describes it.  Photo FilmStrip defaults to 5 seconds for each photo, but you can set the length you want for each individually.  Photos with many people will probably require longer times than ones with only one or two people.  To get the photos in the order I want, I put the photos in a folder and number them as 10-[name], 20-[name], etc., so they sort in this order.  Leaving the gaps in the numbers allows me to put other photos in the gaps by numbering there, if i want later.  Photo FilmStrip will take several image formats including jpg's and tif's.  I have also made title screens for videos by using the text art features of the freeware word processor LibreOffice and doing screenshots to jpg's of them.  When I have the photos in order and the soundtrack ready, I open Photo FilmStrip and start a new project.  The setup screen asks for the aspect ratio to use and I usually use 4 x 3, rather than 16 x 9.  The aspect ratio is the ratio of width to height of the final video.  On the setup screen it asks for the length of the video or, if I'm using a soundtrack, where the sound file is and that determines the length of the video.  You then copy and paste the photos in and they form a "film strip" across the bottom of the screen.  You can drag-and-drop to move them around to change the order in the filmstrip, if you want.  Then click on the first photo in the filmstrip and set its parameters, i.e. how long to show it on screen, what rectangular part of the photo to start with and what rectangular part to end with.  Keep in mind that the final video will have each image full screen so if you choose a smaller rectangular area of the photo that part will be expanded to fill the entire window.  You can also add subtitles here and there are several other settings you can experiment with such as fades and rotations.  You do this for each photo in the filmstrip.  When finished you "render" the video, which is the process that takes the information you have selected for each photo and forms the video.  There is an option for Draft rendering which takes much less time than the final High Definition rendering, so you can see it and then go back and change things to get them the way you want before doing the final rendering.  Change the default from PAL to NTSC since PAL is used in Europe and NTSC is used in America.  Once you get the draft the way you want do a Medium or else High Definition rendering.  High Definition may take 30 minutes or more, but gives you a nice final product.  After you have rendered the video and before you exit the program, save the project so you can return and make changes when you want to later.  If you don't save the project, you will have the final video, but will have to start over with the soundtrack and photos, if you want to make changes later.  We didn't learn that until after we had made several videos.  When we wanted to put in subtitles, we found that we had to start over from the beginning since we hadn't saved the projects, only the final videos.  I usually use mp4/avi format for the final video, but there are several other options.  The final video is called output.avi and the subtitles will be in a file called in the same folder.  You can rename these two files, but change both names to the same thing or else the subtitles won't show on the video.  And these two files have to be in the same folder to show the video with the subtitles.  The soundtrack is included in the avi file.  To show these videos I usually use the freeware VLC -- -- also discussed in these notes in Sep 2013.  If you decide you want to edit the video later, just open Photo FilmStrip and go to the project again, make the changes, and re-render it.  I've now made several videos with this and it's fun and they seem to hold people's attention in classes, family reunions, presentations, etc.  Once you do one video you'll have the idea, so others will be easier to do  You can probably think of several videos you want to make, maybe even some Christmas presents.  Good luck.  Enjoy. 

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