2017 by Donald R. Snow

This page was last updated 2017-04-28.  Return to the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don Snow's Class Listings Page .
ABSTRACT: PHOTO FILMSTRIP is a free program that makes "Ken Burns"-type videos of your selected photos.  These slideshow videos are formed from still pictures, but that have movement in the picture to keep people's attention and focus on the things you want.  The program allows captions, visual effects, and sound files for background music or narration.  This class will discuss the program and how to use it.   The notes for this class and related articles, all with active Internet links, are on Don's website .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow of St. George and Provo, Utah ( ).
  2. These notes, with active Internet links and other related articles, are posted on Don's website .
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for the URL for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon in front of the address in your browser to your desktop.  (2)  To open a link while keeping your place in the original page, hold down the Control key while clicking the link so it opens in a new tab.
  4. This class will discuss the free program PHOTO FILMSTRIP, downloading, installing, and using it to produce video slideshows from still photos.

  6. PHOTO FILMSTRIP is a free program available from -- If it opens in German, click on the "en" (upper right-hand side) for English. 
  7. Ken Burns is the fellow who makes historical videos that are educational and entertaining for PBS and other TV channels; many of his videos include still photographs, but by panning around in them, they appear in motion and hold your interest and you can emphasize what you want; you set the length of time for each photo and any background narration or music that you want
  8. Video tutorials are at


  9. Steps
    STEP 1 - Download and Install PHOTO FILMSTRIP
    STEP 2 - Select and organize the photos you want to use - can be jpg's, tif's, png's, etc.
  10. STEP 3 - Select the music or narration file you want to use -- this usually determines the length of the final video
    STEP 4 - Run the program and tell it where to find the sound file, if any
    STEP 5 - Drag and drop the photos and set their properties
    STEP 6 - Render (produce) the video and save the project; use Draft mode for rendering until you have it the way you want, then render the video in High Definition
    STEP 7 - Watch the video


  11. Go to the website -- If it opens in German, click on "en" (upper right corner) to change to English -- It is written by a fellow in Germany, so it uses European settings to start
  12. After downloading, install it. There is also a portable version that runs from a flash drive, so it doesn't need to be installed on the computer running it.
  13. On the website is information about the program, including a video made with it. 

  15. Include as many or as few photos as you want, but to learn the program start with just a few photos, e.g. 5 or 10
  16. When doing a video, keep in mind how long you want it to be and that each photo needs to be shown for a few seconds; photos with more people usually need to be shown longer
  17. When using a sound track (music or narration), the length of the video will be determined by the length of the sound file
  18. To get a working average time for each photo, divide the total time by the number of photos; this can be adjusted for each photo later
  19. If the sound file hasn't set the time or you haven't set it yourself, the program defaults to 5 seconds for each photo
  20. To get the photos in the order I want, I copy them to a folder and number them as 10-[name], 20-[name], etc. -- this makes them sort in this order; the gaps in the numbering allow me to renumber others later to go in between; you can also rearrange them later in PHOTO FILMSTRIP, but it is easier to get them in the right order first
  21. PHOTO FILMSTRIP can handle several image formats, including jpg's and tif's.
  22. Title screens can be made by using text art features of word processors, e.g. LibreOffice, and making screenshots so you have jpg's of them to include.

  24. PHOTO FILMSTRIP only allows the sound formats of wav or mp3, so if you have something in a different format, you will have to convert it to one of these 
  25. You can find music on the web, YouTube, CD's, etc, but don't break any copyright laws; since you won't be doing this commercially, you will be OK in most cases
  26. Music or narration can be recorded with the freeware program Audacity -- -- see other sets of notes for details
  27. The length of the sound track determines how long your video will be; if it is a narration about the photos, note the length of time for each description, so you can set the time to show each photo; you can adjust the PHOTO FILMSTRIP default time of 5 seconds to whatever you need for each photo

  29. Run PHOTO FILMSTRIP and click to start a new project.
  30. The setup screen asks for the aspect ratio to use, i.e., the ratio of width to height of the final video; I usually use 4 x 3, rather than 16 x 9
  31. Tell it where to find the sound file and that will set the length of the video
  32. If you don't use a sound file, you can let it default to 5 seconds for each photo you will use or set the total length yourself 

  34. Drag and drop the photos into the program and they form a "film strip" across the bottom of the screen
  35. The photos can be reordered by clicking and dragging, but it's easier to sort them first
  36. 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; add a caption, if desired; and set other options.
  37. The starting and ending rectangular boxes show what the final video will show; these will be in full screen and expand or contract and move to where the ending rectangle is, so if you start with a small area of the photo, that will be shown full screen at the start; it takes a little practice to get used to how this works, but it's not hard
  38. The program has a default setting for the beginning and ending rectangles of each photo that you can use to start with and watch the video to get the idea 
  39. Text jpg's can be included as titles in any photo position to indicate new sections of the video; these can be made using text art from word processors, as discussed above
  40. There are fades and rotations and other settings that you can also use for each photo
  41. Go through all the photos to set the options the way you want

  43. "Rendering" means forming the video using the photos, sound, and settings that you have made
  44. IMPORTANT NOTE 1:  Before rendering, change the default setting from PAL to NTSC, since PAL is the European system and NTSC is the American system. 
  45. Draft rendering takes much less time than the final High Definition rendering, so you can see a rough copy of the video and make changes the way you want before doing the final rendering.
  46. When it is the way you want, Render a Medium or High Definition video -- High Def may take 30 minutes or more, but gives you a better final product. 
  47. Formats for rendering:  Of the several final format options, I usually use mp4/avi format
  48. When finished rendering, the final video and subtitle files will be in a folder and will be called "output.avi" and "", respectively; you can rename "output" to anything you want, but do it in each file so the subtitle file will be recognized, and keep the two files in the same folder or it won't know where to find the subtitle file
  49. The final video can be converted to another video format which will include the subtitles in the same file, if you want.
  50. IMPORTANT NOTE 2:  Save the Project -- This means saving all the details, sound file, photos, options, etc., in PHOTO FILMSTRIP, so if you ever want to change parts of it or render it in a different format, you won't have to start from scratch -- When we first started using PHOTO FILMSTRIP, we didn't know this, so after making several videos and then wanting to out in subtitles, we had to start over from the beginning and find the photos and sound file again, and reset all the times and boxes, etc.  We had the final videos, but hadn't saved the projects.

  52. VLC is a good free video player -- -- Bob Rankin's Review calls it The Swiss Army Knife of Media Players -- available for all operating systems and devices and has features other players don't have, e.g. you can move the sound file to match the lip movements, if they are not synchronized together
  53. If the video doesn't show the subtitles, you may have to tell the player where to find them.

  55. To edit the video later, run PHOTO FILMSTRIP and open the project you saved, make the changes, and re-render it.
  56. Slideshow videos are fun to make and hold people's attention; do a small one to start with to get the idea.  You can probably think of several videos you would like to have for family reunions, presentations, classes, and even Christmas presents.
  57. If you find other free programs that will do similar things, please let me know.  Thanks. 
  58. ================================================================================== Return to Don's Freeware Corner Page or Don's Family History Class Notes Page .