If you have hundreds or even thousands of photos stored on your computer and you keep meaning to organize them – first, you’re not alone, and, second, here is a super fun and easy thing to do with them – and it’s free!
Both Mac and Windows computers have free movie making software. For Windows it’s called “Movie Maker” and on Mac’s it’s called “iMovie”.
Both of these programs help you release your inner Ken Burns to assemble your still photos into graceful, smoothly gliding movies, complete with a soundtrack of your choosing, plus credits and captions and all manner of nifty animated transitions.
After you make your movies, you can watch them anytime either on your computer or on most modern flat-screen TVs. You can also store them online and then share them with family and friends.
iMovie is installed automatically on Macintosh computers. Movie Maker is free, but for most versions of Windows it needs to be downloaded from Microsoft. (Search your computer for “Movie Maker” first, and if you don’t find it, go here to download it from the Web: http://goo.gl/EjmYNa .
By the way; these are not the only programs for making movies on Macs and Windows PCs, or even the only free ones. They’re just the ones that sort of come-with. For example, you can also use “Picasa” from Google to make movies from your stills.
Once you’ve found your program on Mac or Windows; double click to open it up and get started.
Try a small experimental project first, using 5 to 10 photos. You’ll see how easy it is to move on to larger projects when you get this first test movie done.
Almost universally, the movie programs start with the concept of a “Project” as your blank movie. So you start the software, and then, from the File menu you select “New” and then “Project”.
When your blank project opens, then the specifics of your program will start to apply, but, again almost universally, you begin by dragging-and-dropping photos from your computer into your project, like a storyboard. You can drag the photos around, and adjust things like how long they are on the screen and how they transition from one image to the next.
The program will include tools for choosing the transitions and for choosing music or adding audio commentary. One thing to note; if you plan to make your video public on YouTube or elsewhere, be careful when selecting your music. Using copyrighted material for your soundtrack is frowned upon and it will be challenged. You can find generic copyright-free soundtrack music on the web to use instead.
Be sure to “Save” frequently as you are working on your movie. You can spend some fun and happy hours assembling movies, and it’s a shame when your work gets lost due to an unexpected power outage or some such thing.
After you’ve finished your movie, the program that you’ve used to make the movie will also have a button to click to “Share” the movie on YouTube or Facebook or to store it in DropBox or some other cloud storage.
Once it is stored online, you can choose to only share the link to it with a select few, or you can make it available to the “public” on YouTube or Flickr or any of several online sites for public showing too. (Just be aware of those copyrights.)
Movie Making Tutorials:
You can’t hurt anything by just opening up the program and sort of clicking and prodding and trying things out. But if you’d like to have a guide for your first project, just search for “[the name of your program] tutorial” – like “movie maker tutorial”.
Pick and try them to choose. Most are free, some are not. Most are homemade (and often quite helpful), but a few are professional guides.
I hope this is all as easy and as much fun for you as I think it will be, but, as always, if I can fill in some details or help with anything on your computers, please don’t hesitate to call: Mike Pepper ~ Computer Guy. www.PawlingComputerGuy.com 845-855-5824