Photo to Movie User Profile - Christopher Seufert

Christopher created a short documentary about radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi using Photo to Movie and Final Cut Pro. It was commissioned by the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center, was narrated by Walter Cronkite, and has won 5 awards so far.

LQ Graphics: What kind of work do you do?

Christopher Seufert: I've owned and operated Mooncusser Films, LLC since 1992, after a background in journalism and anthropology. We specialize in documentaries, educational films, music video and corporate/promotional projects. It's essentially me as producer/director and I hire out freelancers as needed on a project by project basis.

LQ: What is your background?

CS: My background goes back to print and TV journalism out of college, grad school for anthropology and then more specialized experience in video. I worked as a TV news reporter where I learned shooting and editing, then worked as a video conferencing technician in the early days of distance learning (around 1993). Then I transitioned into a staff position in community television, a stint freelancing full time in lighting and sound jobs in Manhattan, and then full time at my own company, based here in the Boston area. I've done it all at this point, and it serves me well in running my own company and in hiring out to freelancers.

LQ: How do you use Photo to Movie?

CS: I use it as a quick and easy version of After Effects. The more graphical logic of it works better for me, especially when I'm sitting here with a producer or client in the studio.

LQ: How has Photo to Movie benefited you in your work?

CS: It's made me more inclined to put my photos and stills into motion, rather than choosing to keep them static. Many of my projects are low budget, and so Photo to Movie helps me to deliver more to the client for less. I'll put motion into my movies when I ordinarily wouldn't. That's worth a lot. It increases the quality of the product I'm able to deliver. Though there are other products that do the same thing, the tight focus of the product helps me go into and out of the product quickly. The next step for me would be to see it in a Final Cut Pro environment as a plug-in.

LQ: What feature(s) in Photo to Movie do you use most often?

CS: I must confess I don't use the random feature much, though I like the idea. I'd like to see that become more intelligent. Anyway, importing and exporting ease-of-use is the thing I appreciate most. Drag and drop your images into it from the desktop, adjust the green and red boxes (start and stop) and export to a DV movie. That's all you need to know to get going. No manual required.

LQ: Tell us about Mooncusser films.

CS: I'm currently in production on a direct cinema-style feature length documentary with musician Suzanne Vega and just recently completed a short documentary for a museum focused on the contributions of Guglielmo Marconi to wireless radio. This was narrated by Walter Cronkite, who retired when I was in about eighth grade. That was incredible to find myself writing a script for him and on the headphones directing his narration. I remember being in my pajamas and hearing his voice relaying news of the Vietnam War. So, that was a milestone for me and my company. Next up is something that I shot in the Czech Republic with classic documentary-maker Albert Maysles ("Gimme Shelter", "Salesman", "Grey Gardens") and a music video with Boston musician Chris Trapper (from the Push Stars).

LQ: How did Photo to Movie help you with your Marconi project?

CS: Essentially, I was able to use motion on a project when I ordinarily wouldn't have. The keyframing in Final Cut Pro and the importing and exporting to Adobe After Effects are more involved and would not have made sense on the budget we had (about $17,000). I got your demo from Apple OS X Downloads, which I check every day, and it came along at just the right time. I was suffering with getting motion on the images that day with other applications, I downloaded and dried the demo, affirmed the export was of the quality I needed as a QuickTime movie in Final Cut and registered. The next day, my client was astounded by how much I did overnight.

LQ: How are you using Photo to Movie with your Suzanne Vega Project?

CS: I must admit I don't use the audio feature. I do a lot of dragging and dropping of images from my external FireWire hard drive or from my desktop, wrangle the green and red boxes for the movement, make sure I've got a good buffer at the front and back, then export to a QuickTime movie and into Final Cut. We've been showing the rough-cut to test audiences here on the Cape and then at a festival in Europe this last September. We're now shaping the rough cut for submission to South By Southwest in Austin, Texas in early December and Photo to Movie is helping me shape out the utilization of the still images (photos and album covers from her past) outside of Final Cut Pro. It takes about 1.5 seconds to open the application and start throwing images into it so it's good for scriptwriting and roughing out images from our storyboard. So, it functions for me outside of the editing environment as a producer.

LQ: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

CS: I appreciate how specialized the software is. In this day and age where software is always adding new features and becoming more generalized, I think Photo to Movie has done well sticking to what it does best. Also, thanks for sticking with Apple.

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