PhotoFilmStrip: create videos from images (including Ken Burns style zooming in/out effect)


If you’ve ever wanted to string a bunch of images together into an animation then PhotoFilmStrip is for you. PhotoFilmStrip is a free program that can create video from images quickly and easily, including the Ken Burns style zoom-in/zoom-out effect commonly used in documentaries.

Other features include the ability to add subtitles, add a soundtrack, and use black and white/sepia versions of your images. PhotoFilmStrip is multiplatform (Windows/Linux).

Three things make this program notable:

  1. It is extremely easy to use. I was able to create a fairly decent film literally within 10 minutes of installation.
  2. It is very nicely laid out. The interface design is intuitive and simple.
  3. The output videos are smoothly-animated and of excellent quality.

Decisions: part of why this is so easy to use is that the decisions that the user has to make are fairly straightforward, and there really aren’t too many of them. First off you have to add images to the movie, arrange them in the right order, rotate them if necessary, and choose whether you want to recolor them(b&w or sepia).

Next, for each image you have to choose the beginning and end state of the camera; i.e. how the camera will zoom in or out. This is the most “creative” part and is done via two rectangles for the beginning and end states (see screenshot above), and is surprisingly simple to do. Lastly, you can type in a subtitle for each image (which is optional) and specify the duration in seconds that each image animation will occupy within the movie. You will need to make a couple more decisions once at the very end once you’re ready to render, including resolution, output format, and whether you would like to add a soundtrack. The program does not support any fancy transitions between one image and the next; all images simply fade in and out of each other.

More notes on this program:

  • Subtitles: if you enter subtitles they will be rendered in .SRT format; they will not be “burned into” the final output movie. (Most decent media players, such as The KMPlayer, will be able to play this format of subtitles).
  • Rendering the filmstrip: you can use pre-defined profiles in the settings, including DVD and other profiles for different resolutions (can go up to an impressive HD (1920×1080) resolution). I like that PhotoFilmStrip has the Xvid encoder built in and doesnt require the user to install codecs.
  • Adding audio: once you’re ready to render, you can add an audio track. If you want to add narration you will need to do some post processing with external programs (e.g Audacity to record and something like VirtualDub or Avidemux to add the new audio track to the video.)

Wish list (or how this program can be even better)

  • Support for custom, pre-built transitions: I just had to put this out there, even as I acknowledge that it will add a layer of complexity and that the default fade in/out transition works just fine.
  • Burn-in subtitles: the option to burn subtitles in rather than output them in a sperate file.

Freewaregenius 5-Star PickThe verdict: an excellent program that is both powerful and easy to use. You will be up and running creating animations out of your images in minutes. The program may lack some fancy bells and whistles, but the flip side but compensates for that in usability and good user experience. Recommended.

Version Tested: 1.1

Compatibility: Windows, Linux.

Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 14.9 megs).