Photos to slideshow: options and software

By jayvol09 on Monday 05 November 2012 14:37
Category: -, Views: 1.430

Keywords: photo image to video movie compilation timelapse slideshow transitions text

Now most video editors will allow adding photos to the timeline to make a video, but many don't support large image volumes in a practical manner. I don't want to micromanage every image: select transition(about 5 clicks), add text (5 clicks and maybe typing same thing over and over), add effect (e.g. contrast or grayscale) and then rotate 90 degrees clockwise.
So instead of checking every video editor (again) I'll try some niche / dedicated software products first, GUIs first- commandlines are a last resort as always. My goal this time is to make a nice movie of my holiday in Italy from the pile of photos I made.

Features I do want:
  • Input whole folder at once; no 1-by-1 importing. Preferably not slowly either.
  • Control duration of images without micromanaging
  • Select a transition format- all transitions do type X with settings Y. Or cycle types (e.g. fade 3x > dissolve > spin 2x) with settings A-F corresponding to each type.The settings should include duration and any type specific options like fade to black vs white.
  • Ability to specify exceptions in the above format for special photos, e.g. a longer duration of a shot I'm proud of :p. Or a very slow transition for dramatic effect ^.^
  • Add audio
  • Add text to individual images- preferably with many position / font / graphical options. Ideally create text then add the images you want the text applied to; so you can add the same text to several images with ease.
  • Letterboxing for vertical shots (e.g. turns 3:4 into 4:3) or vice versa
  • Less important: ability to add ''breakframes''- black frames with title introducing a chapter (e.g. Venezia) or a witty comment (e.g. ...uhm...) .
  • Various effects: crop, zoom, rotate, contrast, hue, saturation, brightness, playspeed (for videoclips), grayscale, image overlay.
Anyway, software other than video editors that I've found so far:
  • PhotoFilmStrip
  • Foto2Avi
  • Photostage Slidershow
  • FFmpeg / Mencoder (commandline)
  • Virtualdub(mod)
  • Videoporama / ffDiaporama
In addition there are quite a few (paid) webservices that turn uploaded photos into a video, not practical for large videos if you ask me. Also the quality may not be consistent, or so I've heard. Another (farfetched) option is to capture a screencast of a presentation, if you happen to use a webservice for presenting or have a special presentation format you can't export to video. In that case I can recommend Camtasia for ease of use and good framerate.

First up, Photostage Slideshow Producer by NCH (same makers as videopad).
- Allows user to dump all images (called clips) onto a timeline. There is also an option called quick create that lets you add a whole folder.
- Allows multiple clips duration and transition time editing. Ctrl +shift selecting of clips works intuitive. Blank (white or black) slides possible.
- Unfortunately effects, including text(!) can only be applied individually.
- The text has basic font, size & color options like in MS paint. User can position text in a 3x3 grid position. Other text parameters are opacity, basic fade in+out & scrolling (up-down, left-right, etc.). So no stroke, shadow, emboss or funky animation.
- User can apply effects multiple times on 1 clip.
- It is also possible to add audio and preview your video.
- Export allows custom framerate and resolution settings, various formats (avi / mp4/ mov / wmv /flv) , no mkv or mts. Encoding options I think are based on your system codecs, I can choose from 20 compression options, including h264, MPEG-4 (native), Xvid and Huffyuv.

All in all a very good program, shame about the effects being clip-based or I might have stopped searching already. But as it is I would like more text related ease for text-heavy slideshows, both in terms of management and display options. Maybe:
  • Text animation (simple scroll & fades don't count)- Lets look for bouncy words with fireworks :)
  • Standard photoshoppy / wordart options: stroke, emboss / 3D, shadow, opacity, gradient colors.
  • Full control of text locations
  • Batch management: multiple images, same text, no hassle
Foto2Avi has a clean look. Compared to Photostage:
- Both have letterboxing & pillarboxing options
- Doesn't do crops and has less effect options in general
- But does allow batch effects: including text and rotations, as opposed to photostage.
- No cross-fade transition (pretty basic one, although hard to compress)
- No blank slides
- Less framerate flexibility (lowest is 23.976)
- Less resolution options (few presets including 1280x720 and 1920x1080)
- Less compression options, but does do uncompressed and basic x264 / xvid / mpeg.
- More control on text position
- Similar text effects
- Forgot to mention both allow integration of videos in timeline

In general not bad at all, but photostage is better. The fact that Foto2Avi uses avisynth may be a problem. With my test batch of 280 pictures Foto2Avi gave errors (mentioning the DevIL library a few times). Resulting in no video at all, instead of skipping troublesome images. First I thought my jpegs were corrupted, but on inspection they looked fine to me, and photostage worked with the same batch. Using a couple of handpicked fotos did produce a decent video.

Then photofilmstrip. A basic app seemingly focused on creating pan-shots. Compared to the previous 2:
- No letterboxing here.
- Only effects are grayscale and rotate and must be applied individually per clip.
- Basic text subtitles, and by basic I mean just type what text you want, and it dumps it in an .srt file.
- No framerate/res options on output; just select profile (e.g. full hd), type PAL or NTSC and format xvid or mpeg in avi container. Don't forget mpeg doesn't do full HD...
- There is no way of turning off the zoom effect. I'm assuming the zoom translation uses linear interpolation over the duration of the clip while also linearly changing the field of view.
While a 16:9 aspect ratio means you always get a crop with 4:3 sources, a zoom effect with zero change over time might just consume your cpu. My test batch used 4 images and took 10 mins to encode :S

All in all: epic fail designwise for photofilmstrip. Its only redeeming quality is that it outputted a working file.

Volgende: Codec Hell: Change video container without encoding 11-'12 Codec Hell: Change video container without encoding

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