November 2008 Newsletter


Welcome to the Photo to Movie Newsletter

November 2008

Happy November from the Photo to Movie team!

Thanksgiving Photos Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which typically brings a cornucopia of photo opportunities. With Photo to Movie, you can make a slideshow depicting a turkey's journey from the fridge to the dining room. Or how about a a slideshow dedicated solely to the variety of pies cooked up for the special day? With Photo to Movie's intuitive interface and easy drag and drop functionality you can have a Thanksgiving video ready by Black Friday -- to make distant family members who might have missed the celebration salivate.

Publishing Web Videos Sending videos to relatives has become very common in the digital age, and Photo to Movie makes it easy even for those without technical expertise. Another way our users often distribute their slideshows is by uploading them to the world wide web -- so this month we're featuring a tutorial on the ins and outs of this inexact science. Follow our steps to prepare a video to watch on Youtube, or for friends and family to download from your own website.

Photo to Movie 4.2 Released And now your slideshows can be made better than ever before with the latest update of Photo to Movie -- Photo to Movie 4.2 is currently available for download! We've devoted an entire section of the newsletter to imparting the specifics about its improved features.

Photo to Movie Gifts As we move into the holiday season, we'd also like to remind you that Photo to Movie makes the perfect gift for home photo enthusiasts, and provides an easy and fun way to prepare your pictures for TV or internet viewing. It's a program that anyone can use, making it an excellent present for hard-to-shop-for family members. The cross-platform Photo to Movie is available at both Amazon and Apple Stores.

Photo to Movie (Mac OS) 4.2 Now Available for Download!

The latest update of Photo to Movie software is now available as a FREE UPGRADE for all users who purchased the program after January 1st, 2007! Thanks to all the beta testers who helped us improve and optimize 4.2 for release. Now all slideshow creators can enjoy enhanced functionality and a multitude of new features:

Title Effects: A new title rendering system has been added along with the ability to add title effects. Before, only fade in and fade out were available. Now you can choose to animate your titles into and out of the movie. The current in and out effects include Fade, Move, Scale, and Typewriter. Give them all a try by selecting a title in the timeline, clicking on the effect tab, choose either Effect In or Effect Out, and setting the desired Effect. Then play the title in the timeline.

Gather Media: You can have Photo to Movie copy your photo and audio files to a common folder for archiving. Use the menu item File > Gather Media... You'll be asked to choose a folder and once all the files are copied you'll be asked to save your modified Photo to Movie document that includes references to the media files in their new locations.

Alternate Aspect Ratios: You can now render movies at aspect ratios other then 4:3 or 16:9. Most users will not need to do this, but if you do, set your aspect ratio in Document Info to 'Same as Movie Size'. Then set the Movie Size on the right. Your key frames and final movie will have the aspect ratio width:height.

Fit to audio: Menu item Audio > Fit Photos to Audio (Shift-Cmd-F). This instantly stretches or shrinks your photo track to match the duration of your audio track.

Quickly move between photos: Use Cmd-[ and Cmd-] to move selection to the previous and next photos.

Contextual menus: Right click on a photo in the timeline to open it in an external editor or reveal it in the Finder.

Performance: We know that the Preview and Full Screen performance is less than stellar in recent versions of Photo to Movie. We're working hard to remedy this situation and this new version partially addresses this issue by making thumbnail processing more seamless and taking less CPU time and using optimized OpenGL more frequently than CoreImage. Please let us know how things are working on your particular machine!

Stability: Photo to Movie 4.1 and 4.2 both include a crash reporter that sends crash reports directly to our servers. If either of these versions crash on you, please re-launch the software and submit the crash report. We examine each crash report carefully to figure out what went wrong. The Crash Reporter has led to numerous fixes in the last few months that have dramatically reduced the number of crashes.

Publishing Slideshows on the Web

Web publishing can be tricky business, requiring much trial and error to arrive at a perfect file. There are several things that make web publishing difficult, but the primary issues are the video file format, the bandwidth required to play the video, and the video size. All of these issues are related. For instance, larger video sizes require more bandwidth and take longer to download.

In order to determine how to address them you have to consider where you are planning on publishing your video (i.e., your own homepage or video site like YouTube?) and who will be watching it (i.e., Windows or Mac users, users with dial-up or broadband connections, etc.) and how (ie, on a computer screen or an iPhone?).

Unfortunately, there is no single video format that works flawlessly in all situations. However, a few different formats come close, especially if your users are using the latest browser available on their platform. Ideally, too, you can provide multiple versions of your movie in different file formats, sizes, and bandwidths -- just in case.

The gold standard of video rendering on Macintosh is QuickTime, so for Mac users (and even some Windows users) this is easily the best solution. In particular, the H.264 codec (a QuickTime format) offers high quality with comparatively economic file sizes. H.264 is available to anyone with QuickTime or Flash Player 9.

The most popular Windows video format, on the other hand, is Windows Media Video Format. This is available for all Windows users but not most Mac users -- so if you're making a slideshow for a cross-platform audience, QuickTime or Flash might be your best bet.

If you are publishing to your own site, you'll also need a player that can be embedded in a web page. These are typically written in either JavaScript, Flash, or Silverlight. See the end of this section for some possible players.

Finally, you need to decide what size and how much bandwidth to require to view your movie. This depends on how the movie will be watched. Many applications (for example, QuickTime Player Pro) have export settings with the video size and bitrate already calibrated for you.

If you video will be played on a mobile device such as iPhone, we recommend a height of either 240 or 320 pixels and a download rate of 150-200 Kbps.

If your video will be played on a computer with broadband (cable or DSL speed), you can render up to 1024 pixels tall and download rates of 1 Mbps or more.

But, we should point out that there's no "perfect" setting. You'll have to make size and bandwidth tradeoffs depending on your particular application. For example, standard video on YouTube downloads at about 300 Kbps.

Flash Videos

Flash is very useful for web publishing, since it helps provide video that most users will be able to view regardless of platform. Sites like YouTube use Flash for all their video content.

If you're using Flash, we recommend rendering your movie in the H.264 format and then using a standard player such as JW Player (see below) to place it on a webpage. You will need to consult with the instructions for your chosen player to get the exact details.

Mac users can render H.264 video directly. Choose Make Movie and select the QuickTime rendering panel. Select QuickTime for the movie format and choose your desired movie settings. This will produce a video that can be placed directly on your website with an appropriate Flash player.

On Windows, it is slightly more complicated since the Windows version of Photo to Movie cannot render H.264 video files that are immediately web-ready (it can do the video, but not the AAC audio, due to licensing restrictions). However, there is a way around this. We recommend rendering your movie to H.264 video, but use uncompressed audio. To do this, use Document Info and choose the QuickTime movie format. Then choose a custom file format with the H.264 codec, the desired video size, and desired bandwidth. Then render your movie. This will produce a H.264 video with uncompressed audio. Next use QuickTime Player Pro to open your movie and re-render to full H.264 with AAC audio. QuickTime is smart enough not to re-render the video that is already in H.264 format, but it will re-compress the audio into AAC, producing a movie that can be placed directly on your website using a Flash player.

For more information on web publishing, including tutorials on Quicktime and Silverlight, visit our full article on publishing movies:

Publishing Movies for DVD, the Web, and HD

Here are some more useful web publishing links:

JW Player (Flash and Silverlight player)

Apple's QuickTime Pro

Microsoft's Silverlight

Photo to Movie Professionals -- Join our User Profiles!

One of the great things about Photo to Movie is that it can be used by practically anyone with the desire to tell a story through pictures or photographs -- home enthusiasts, family shutterbugs, and digital professionals. You saw one example of that above in Peter Moruzzi's profile.

Do you use Photo to Movie for your business? Has our software, coupled with your creativity, allowed you to take your art or photography to new heights? Then you may be interested in participating in our user profiles, published several times a year in the Photo to Movie Newsletter.

If you're interested in being interviewed, be prepared to provide a short (one minute) clip of your work in Photo in Movie, in 640x480 format or better (preferably quicktime). Contact us for more information.

Special Deals Mailing List

Due to numerous requests, LQ Graphics now has a special mailing list for special deals, offers, and discounts on LQ Graphics products and 3rd party products.

This is a great way to SAVE MONEY on software. We're negotiating with several other companies to offer special DISCOUNTS to our customers on their products. We expect the first special offer to be available in early December -- SIGN UP NOW.

This special deals mailing list is opt-in only. You must click on the link below and check the appropriate box to be included.

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LQ Graphics, Inc., 7172 Regional Street #297, Dublin, CA 94568