I hadn’t used Picasa for quite awhile, so I downloaded the free Picasa 3 and noticed a pretty nice interface for making a movie, so I tried it out, then compared it to Windows Live Movie Maker.
I’ll say right away that Picasa is the big time winner. It was pretty easy to select my photos from different folders and put them in the show. I found it was easier if I somewhat had them organized before bringing them in as the provided timeline shrinks the pictures and you can’t see everything all at once, scrolling to the right is necessary. Later, I decided to remove some pictures – just highlight and click remove.
I used text slides to introduce different sections of my movie. The slides are pretty plain, but background color, text color and font sizes could be adjusted. I found it easy to place my text slide where I wanted it. There is also an option to add a caption to pictures and move/rotate it for the effect you wish.
There were quite a few options for slide transitions, but only one transition can be applied for the entire movie, which seemed a bit limiting, but I suppose it prevents folks from going crazy with various transition effects. You can also set slide view duration and overlap.
In addition to pictures and text slides, movie clips can also be imported – that’s handy to have.
Yes, you can set your movie to music – options are below. Be aware if you choose music, then it will override the ‘slide duration’ setting chosen earlier.
Here is Picasa Help should you need some.
Picasa beefed up the extras included when you download the desktop version. It’s easy to upload your photos to a web album, email a collection of photos, print, export to a folder, visit a picture printing service to order prints, make a collage, movie and also new is geo-tagging (the location of your picture will appear on a google map).
When you’ve finished tweaking your movie, click the ‘make movie’ button and depending on how many slides you have, it could take some time to render the movie. There is a button to publish your movie directly to YouTube, but it didn’t work for me.
Picasa 3 is head and shoulders above Microsoft’s Windows Live Movie Maker. Functionality was severely limited and it’s definitely a backwards step from Windows Movie Maker. With Windows 7 coming out soon, they’ve decided they are not even going to include movie maker, instead it will be a separate download if you want it. Read more about it at O’Reilly’s site. It includes a link to get the free download. Hopefully, the Windows Live team is working on developing something as good as Picasa 3.
For greater detail on Picasa 3 movie maker and photo editor, complete with screen shots, check out Michael Muchmore’s article in PC Magazine.