November 18, 2005
Boston landmark in Copley Square. 20D, 17-40mm, f7.1, 1/50, ISO 100
November 16, 2005
This is a software review and might seem out of place on a blog mostly geared towards photography. However, Microsoft's free Photo Story (now at version 3) is worth taking a look for anyone interested in publishing their photos.
Photo Story is a photo slide show application that produces impressive and slick looking slideshows/videos painlessly.
As Microsoft's history often shows, the 3rd try is the best. And it is the case here too. You start by dragging in a bunch of photos, arranging them as needed, then you can provide custom narration, transitions, zooms, pans, audio soundtracks and/or custom auto-generated music and then your wmv file is ready.
The above features sound complicated, but it really isnt. The software does most of the hard work for you. It automatically generates transitions, zoom/pans without you having to set it up explicitly. And the ones generated by default look great. This functionality alone sets it apart from other software like for instance ProShow.
The other nice thing is the ability to create custom soundtracks for your slideshow. You can choose from a wide variety of music genres, choose the tempo, instrument etc and a soundtrack that sounds very professional is created in an instant. That is a big time saver.
Output from the SW is in Microsoft's WMV files and they compress more than straight MPEGs or other movie type files. You can choose various resolutions etc. See a sample photostory demo video I created in about 5 minutes.
So is it all roses and rainbows for Photo Story? Not quite, the output movies from the software is not sharp in some cases like VCD or DVD format. They look grainy and not as crisp. But I found solutions in various websites like Windowsphotostory.com.
Using custom profiles the output improves dramatically.
Also Photostory does not have support for burning DVD's and VCDs with the created slideshow. You need your own DVD authoring app like Nero etc for that.
Yes, other software exists like the above mentioned ProShow which can burn DVDs and VCDs directly and also don't have some of the quality issues. But for sheer ease of use and automated features and not to forget the price (it is free!) Microsoft's Photostory is one hell of an application! Enjoy!
Paul Thurott has a review of Photo Story 3 here.
Papa Johns site on digital video.