One of my favorite free applications was created by Microsoft as an easy way to bring your photos to life. They advertise this application with the slogan “make show-and-tell cool again” Not only does this statement describe what the program does but it also makes the implication that this program is easy enough for a child to use it. I believe that this is an accurate representation of the skill needed to successfully use the program.
Photostory 3 allows you to upload your photos and make them into a slide show for sharing with others. With this application, your slideshow can be as simple or as advanced as you like. Photostory allows you to capture your memories by uploading your favorite photos and converting them into a simple slide show. You can bring your photos to life by adding animation, narration and music and then share them by saving them to your computer, burning them to a CD or DVD or sending them to friends and family through email.This application is an easy and free download from the Microsoft website.
Once downloaded, the opening screen is the first of seven screens that allows you to create and edit your photo slideshow. This screen provides you with 3 options—begin a new story, edit a project or play a story. As you will later see, the last option will very seldom be used within the photostory app. “Begin a new story” allows you to start your first project. “Edit a project” allows you to return to a project that you had previously started and edit that existing project.
The first of the editing pages asks you to import your photos. One of the limitations of PhotoStory is that it can only be used for pictures and not videos. However, these pictures do not have to be digital photos, they can be downloaded images, PowerPoint slides saved as jpegs, or scanned images. You may want to use this program to scan in images created by your students for a presentation to visitors during a parent event.
Clicking on the “Import Pictures” button will open the dialog box where you can browse to where your pictures have been saved.
You can choose more than one picture by holding down the CTRL key as you click on each picture you want to include in your slideshow. Once you have chosen all your pictures, click OK to import them into PhotoStory and display them in the story board at the bottom of the screen.Before I go any further, however, I want to show you the basic layout of the editing screens. This basic understanding of the program layout will help you to know where to locate the editing options and any advanced options you wish to add later.
On the right of the editing screen, you will find the area dedicated to the titled edit for that page. For instance, this page is for importing and arranging your pictures, so the tools you will need to complete this task will be located here.
At the bottom of the screen, you will see a storyboard of all your pictures. You can change the order of these pictures by simply clicking and dragging the picture to a new location in the timeline. This storyboard will also show the picture that you are currently working with by highlighting it with a darker blue box.
The viewing screen on the left shows the picture that you are currently editing and any changes that have been made to it.
Below the viewing screen on each page, you will find some more advanced editing options. You may choose to take advantage of these or move on to the next page. On this particular page, you are given the option to correct color levels, reduce red eye, or rotate the picture. You can always come back to these options later in the program if you wish.
One other option that is given on this page only is the option to remove black borders. As you know, if a picture is imported that was taken in a portrait orientation, it will have black border down each side since the computer screen is typically set for a 4:3 ratio.
As you can see here, this option opens with a before picture with handles for you to set where you want the cropping to take place. Make sure that if you use the “remove black borders” option that no important information is removed from your pictures as it is here. I typically use this option and then use either “yes” or “no” as I work through each of the pictures instead of clicking “yes to all” without looking at each edit to make sure it is what I want.
Step 2 allows you to add a title or caption to your picture. You will notice that once again our main editing takes place on the right of the screen with the picture that is being edited prominently displayed on the left. Using this feature to add a caption places the words typed right over the picture. You can use the buttons at the top of the text box to change font style, color, and size and also to choose the alignment of the text. This is one of the steps that I would rather create in PowerPoint. By adding my picture to a slide in PowerPoint, I am able to type a caption below the picture instead of on top of it. Then I can save that slide as a jpeg and in import it with the caption already in place.
The advanced editing options on this page allow you to change the effects of your pictures.
By highlighting each picture and choosing from these options, you can change your photo to black and white, colored pencil, or sepia as I have done here, just to name a few.
There has also been a new button added to the program during this stage. That button is the Save Project button at the bottom of the page. From this point on, you can save your project in its various stages and come back to work on it later using the Edit a project radio button we saw on the opening screen. Although you don’t have to do this until the very end, I like to do this several times as I am working on a project so if I accidentally mess up or delete something I didn’t intend to, I have a previous copy to go back to and don’t have to start over again.
In step 3, you can add narration to your pictures. PhotoStory provides a box where you can type notes to help you remember what you planned to say with each picture. Once you have pressed the record button, you can simply click through the pictures reading your narration as you go. The preview button below the notes box, shows you your project in its various stages.
The advanced editing options here are for customizing your motion. Photostory automatically adds transitions and fades throughout, however, you may wish to add certain elements yourself. This is where you would do that. I do recommend previewing the project before you begin doing this though. You may discover that you are happy with what PhotoStory has already created and don’t need to spend time on this step. If you do choose to use this editing feature though, you will see two tabs--
The first allows you to set the motion and duration by selecting the area you want to start on and the area you want the motion to end at. Using this feature you can create zooms and pans.
The transition tab lets you choose the way that you want the transition to take place. The center black screen will provide a preview of what your choice would look like. You can also set the duration of the transition here so that one picture can be displayed longer to add emphasis.
In step 4, you can add music to your slide show. You can choose to add music you have downloaded by clicking on “select music”--
And browsing for your song or you can click on create music
And use Photostory’s collection of generic royalty free, copyright free music. Once you have chosen your music, it is added to your timeline,
And automatically set for the duration of your slideshow. It will fade in at the beginning and fade out at the end. If you wish to start the music at a different place in the slideshow, just click on the slide where you wish it to start before choosing your music.Since this is one of the last steps to creating your project, this is a good place to take advantage
Of the preview button to make sure your project is the way you want it to appear.
Although there are other options you can choose when saving your project, I always use the default—save your story for playback on your computer. This option allows you to watch it here as well as burn it to a CD or DVD using a program such as Roxio or Sonic.
You can browse for a place to save it that you will remember. Note that the location chosen will be where your finished project will be saved and that PhotoStory saves your finished project as a Windows Media Video so if you do not choose a specific place for it to be saved, it will default to your “my videos” file.
On this final screen before actually converting your project to a Window Media Video, PhotoStory once again gives you the option to save your project. I cannot stress enough the importance of taking advantage of this opportunity before actually creating your final project. Once your project is converted, you cannot make any changes to it and it cannot be uploaded back into PhotoStory for editing. If you find one misspelled word in the Windows Media Video and you have not taken the time to save this as a project, you have to start all over just to correct the one mistake. If you simply click on “Save project” PhotoStory will save your project with all of your edits and additions as a .wp3 file, that you can go back into and make any changes if you notice later that changes need to be made.
Then clicking the next button will begin the process of building your project by converting each step and saving your project in a separate Windows Media Video file. This may take a few minutes and you will be able to see Photostory layering each step of your project into this final project file.
PhotoStory will give you a message that you have completed your project successfully and you will have the options to view your story, create another story or leave the application. It’s that easy!
PhotoStory 3<br />A free application by Microsoft created to<br />Capture memories<br />Bring photos to life<br />Share your stories<br />Free download at:<br />http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx<br />
Helpful Links<br />Microsoft PhotoStory 3 download: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx<br />Easy to use Microsoft PhotoStory 3 tutorials at jakesonline.org:<br />http://www.jakesonline.org/photostory.htm<br />Microsoft PhotoStory 3 Cheat Sheet:<br />Located in final project discussion board<br />