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Photo to Movie Blog

Controlling Aspect Ratio in Photo to Movie 5

Posted August 26th, 2011 by Chris

Photo to Movie 5 gives you new capabilities to control how your photos are displayed. One of these capabilities is the ability to precisely control the aspect ratio of the key frames on your photo. This allows you to display portrait photos in a way that lets you see the entire photo. Used in conjunction with the layouts provided by Photo to Movie 5, such as the grid layout, you can create some outstanding slide show presentations.

What is "aspect ratio"?

The easiest way to think of an aspect ratio is to think of it as the shape of the photo. Is it wider or taller or square?

More precisely, aspect ratio is ratio of the width to the height. It is usually written as width:height (16:9, for example). My Canon camera, for instance, takes photos that are 3456×2304 pixels. The aspect ratio is 3:2 (which is 3456:2304 simplified). It could also be written as 1.5:1. If I take a portrait oriented photo the aspect ratio would be 2:3 (the opposite of 3:2).

Photo to Movie uses aspect ratios to determine the shape of the key frames on your photos, which in turn describe what parts of the photo to display during the slide show.

In the graphic below, you can see how the key frames don't match the shape of the photo. This prevents us from showing much of the photo in the slide show.

Wrong key frames

New choices: Inherit, Intrinsic, or Custom

With Photo to Movie 5, you have flexibility in how the aspect ratio is specified.

You have three choices for setting the aspect ratio of the key frames.

  • Inherit The aspect ratio of the key frames for a particular photo is inherited from the layout.
  • Intrinsic The aspect ratio of the key frames matches the aspect ratio of the photo itself.
  • Custom The aspect ratio is set by you to a custom value.

These options are covered in more detail below.

You can change the aspect ratio setting for photos by selecting them in the timeline and clicking on the Photo tab in the inspector. Then in the aspect ratio section, select the desired aspect ratio in the menu.

Aspect ratio inspector

With the Inherit choice, the aspect ratio is determined by the layout. For example, the grid layout displays multiple photos at once. It divides the display into parts, each with its own aspect ratio. If a 16:9 video is split into two parts, left and right, the aspect ratio for each part will be 8:9. Photos set to use Inherit aspect ratio will have key frames with 8:9 aspect ratios.

With the Intrinsic choice, the aspect ratio is set to match that of the photo. This option is good for portrait style photos. If the original photo has an aspect ratio of 2:3 then the key frames will have an aspect ratio of 2:3.

In the graphic below, you can see how the key frames show what the man is doing (as opposed to the graphic above where you can't see what he is doing). This photo is set to use Intrinsic so the key frames match the shape of the photo.

Good key frames

With the Custom choice, the aspect ratio is set by you.

Changing aspect ratios and layouts

When you change the aspect ratio for a photo, or if a layout affects the aspect ratio, you will need to adjust your key frames.

Photo to Movie tries to make a good guess when you change aspect ratios as to what the new key frames should be, but often it is wrong and it lets the key frames go outside of the photo. This will sometimes result in photos that look like they're don't have the aspect ratio that you just specified.

Fortunately, there is an easy way to address this problem.

When you change aspect ratios or photos, make sure to select the photos in the timeline, switch to the Motion tab in the inspector, and use the Motion Templates… button to re-apply a motion template. Make sure the Keep Motion in Photo button is checked in Motion Templates and then click Ok. This will update the key frames so that they don't go outside the bounds of the photo.

When the aspect ratio doesn't match the layout

If the aspect ratio does not match the shape of the enclosing part of the layout, the photo will be scaled down and centered within the layout.

You can see two different layouts below. The photos all have the same aspect ratio, but the ones on the left match the enclosing grid layout whereas the ones on the right do not.

Grid 1x2 Grid 3x1

Hopefully this article gives you some insight on using aspect ratios within Photo to Movie.

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