For the last few days, when I have had some spare time, I have been working on a movie using some footage that I shot a few weeks ago, along with lots of still shots that I have taken this fall. I am trying to do a house, neighborhood, and area tour.
I have always been intrigued with creating the feeling of a special place for someone who has never been there. I think I first got interested in this in the fall of 1970 after a college roommate and I returned from a trip across the west and up the Alcan Highway to Alaska.
If you have lived on the east coast most of your life, it's hard to comprehend the huge open spaces of the west from a photo. Showing someone pictures or even slides on a screen does not really do the job unless the person has a context that helps them understand the setting of the pictures. It's also hard to really appreciate North Carolina's Crystal Coast unless you have been in a place with as much open water and blue skies.
Today we have far better tools mostly thanks to Steve Jobs and his iLife suite of applications that were the original digital lifestyle tools. When you combine them with iTunes, you can create an amazing experience for someone who has never visited a place. I guess the next step in making the experience even better is creating a podcast with interviews of the local characters who can add some color to the virtual tour.
Using iMovie HD, iPhoto, iDVD, and some tunes from iTunes you can create an impressive DVD that can be played on almost any television including fancy widescreen ones. The first DVD projects that I tried, I used a lot of video, now I am much more judicious with my use of video. Of course if I had an HD video camera, I might use more video, but you can create a wonderful DVD with mostly still shots and a little video to tie it together. If you can match some great music to it, then you're much closer to giving a person a feeling of place that isso hard to achieve with simple photos even good ones like the ones I have on my Sunrise Mountain photo site. I haven't done voice overs yet, but they will probably be my next step.
If you're going to try this, you will not find products nearly well as integrated as they are on the Mac side. There's no question you can do it on Windows, there are just more pieces to puzzle.
We've come a long way in technology the last 35 years, it's pretty amazing that we can suck video, photos, and music into our computers and put it on a DVD that family or friends can easily watch on their home entertainment systems. I never would have guessed that this would be as easy as it is. While it's popular to stick movies up on the web, putting up one that is ten minutes long with audio and high quality video isn't something that I would want to try. DVDs are cheap, easy to distribute, and allow you to see the high quality video on large screen high quality components.
A couple of Christmases ago, I took the time to go through our old video tapes and put together a DVD of the kids growing up. It took a lot of time, but hopefully someday it will refresh some great memories for the kids just when the memories are starting to fade. It will also allow the memories to be shared with the next generation.
With the power of this technology, I am really surprised that businesses, especially real estate firms aren't taking advantage of the power of this technology which in my mind is far more powerful that desktop publishing. A real estate firm could easily bring this technology in house as a relatively inexpensive way to market upper end houses. Based on the one that I'm working, I think that they could be an exceptionally powerful tool for real estate agents in the tough market that we have today.
With my most recent DVDs, I was fortunate to be able print picture labels directly on the DVDs with my new HP 5160 Photosmart Printer which I got on a deal at Staples for $59.95. It certainly added a professional touch to my project.
The biggest danger I see is that these projects are so easy to tinker with that you end up spending more time than you want trying to perfect them, but maybe that just my personality showing through.