Photo to Movie User Profile - Ben Kettlewell and Mairéid Sullivan

Ben and Mairéid are multi-talented artists that photograph, edit, and score documentary films using (among other programs) Photo-to-Movie. We caught up with Ben to learn more about how he uses our software to create dreamy montages like in the still above.

LQ Graphics: What kind of work do you do?

Ben Kettlewell: We make films, compose, perform and record music and write books and articles on music history. We use state-of-the-art technology for all aspects of our work.

LQ: What is your background?

BK: Culturally, I am Scottish Cherokee American heritage, born in North Carolina. My partner, Mairéid Sullivan is from Ireland. We reside in Melbourne, Australia.

Professionally, I am a filmmaker, painter, graphic designer, webmaster, author, music journalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. My partner, Mairéid Sullivan is a singer/songwriter, poet, author, student of history, photographer and filmmaker. You can find out more about us here:

LQ: How do you use Photo to Movie?

BK: We use Photo to Movie in combination with Final Cut Pro to create a blend of real film footage and still photos. Photo to Movie is especially useful for bringing archival photographs to life in a way that blends seamlessly with real footage. By simply dropping a still photo onto the interface, we are presented with many options to create a sense of movement in the photo, generating smooth transitions within the pans and zooms, replicating the motions of a real-life video steady-cam.

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

BK: Photo to Movie allows us to incorporate still photography with film footage, bringing history to life. When we began our film Time after Time one of our main obstacles was finding a way to include still archival photos into the film, and make them interesting. We had experimented with a couple of applications that produced fades, etc., but that was about it, nothing exciting. After searching a few of the better known Mac boards online, we discovered Photo to Movie. It was the solution we had been looking for, and the price was extremely affordable.

LQ: You've managed to integrate Photo to Movie with Final Cut Pro seamlessly. Why do you prefer Photo to Movie for this kind of work, and can you quickly describe your workflow between the two programs?

BK: We tried several other applications for transforming still images into video, but none of them have the array of user-friendly features of Photo to Movie. While we prepare our footage before we begin editing, including using Photo to Movie to transform stills to clips, we keep Photo to Movie open while we're editing film in Final Cut Pro and when we need additional images, we can create a clip on the fly with Photo to Movie, as we go down the timeline. This is an extremely efficient way to work between the two programs.

Using Photo to Movie with Final Cut Pro reminds me of the film, 'Microcosmos.' We can find a particular part of a photograph to focus on, and slowly pan, zoom or both from any part of the photo to that section we want the viewer to focus on. This gives clips, especially archival clips, great depth, and brings ancient 80-100 year-old photographs to life. That's one of the things that makes Photo to Movie so integral to our work.

LQ: What features in Photo to Movie do you use most often?

BK: We use the zoom and pan features the most, although we also use the rotate feature occasionally to produce some dramatic effects. The pause before/after is also a very useful feature. High quality export to PAL video is another feature we use constantly. We were amazed at how user friendly this application is, and how simple it is to achieve a great looking video clip from a still photograph. There are other very useful features such as adding titles, and audio to your clips.

LQ: What are people's reactions when they watch the DVD?

LK: Reviewers say they are hypnotized by our use of image layering. The Australian journalist and author, Kevin Childs said this about Time after Time: "Images, songs and poetry are woven together to create a mesmerizing and enchanting film that propels this art form to a new level."

Don Heckman, in his Los Angeles Times review, had these comments: "Rich, embracing and informative music and video, Time After Time is an exhilarating example of visual world music at its best."

LQ: What are your future plans for using Photo to Movie?

BK: Photo to Movie has become an integral part of our studio. We have two films we're currently working on for clients, 'Antarctic Journey with Peter Malcolm', and an untitled film about the global commons for the organization, Prosper Australia. We've utilized Photo to Movie extensively to transform graphs and archival stills into full quality moving film for these projects. We're also looking forward to working on our next two films, for which we're currently seeking funding: Liquid Light - The Power of Water, and BLISS - Making the Invisible Visible (working title). Readers can find out more about these projects here:

LQ: Any other final thoughts?

BK: One of the great features about Photo to Movie is that the developers are constantly adding new features and updating it. We hope you will add support for high definition editing in a future update. Mairéid and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for inviting us to participate in your newsletter. Photo to Movie has enabled us to bring history to life. Thank you for helping us realize our dreams.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Ben. To learn more about Ben and his projects, visit

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