Pan and Zoom with Windows Movie Maker

John asks: A friend of mine has a Mac and did a really neat video using nothing but still images. She did all sorts of zooms and pans and the neat Ken Burns fades. Will Windows Movie Maker do the same sort of thing?

Windows Movie Maker supports movie creation using still images. By adding special effects to the images, Movie Maker is capable of achieving a variety of artistic arrangements with still images. Movie Maker bundles a number of effects and transitions, but currently lacks a large assortment of pan and zoom effects for creating the Ken Burns still-picture-in-motion movements your friend accomplished with Apple's iMovie.

Getting similar pan and zoom effects in Movie Maker requires a third-party effects add-in called SpiceFX from Pixelan. The Pan/Zoom SpiceFX Pack includes 67 different pan and zoom effects, which may be applied separately or layered on a still image to produce the desired cinematic effect. As of this writing, the Pan/Zoom Pack is $14, making it considerably cheaper than trading your PC for a Mac. In addition to pan and zoom effects, Pixelan makes close to 400 effects and transitions designed to enhance your home movies.

Microsoft offers a second alternative for creating movies with still images bundled with the
Plus! Digital Media Edition add-on for Windows XP. Photo Story is a standalone application specifically designed to combine still images, music, narration, and special effects to produce WMV format movies. Photo Story ships with plenty of pan and zoom features for creating simulated motion with still images. Plus! Digital Media Edition is typically available for under $20 from Amazon.com.

Shameless plug #2: Creating movies with still images is covered in greater detail in
Easy Digital Home Movies.