August 11, 2010

The Photo a Day and Video Work Flow

This post was last updated on December 12th, 2011 at 03:15 pm

Yesterday I posted about the video project that ties in with my photo a day. I thought I'd provide a bit of an insight into my work flow mostly to document it for myself but also to see if others might see any way to improve it or simply add their own approach.


I use iphoto to organize and edit photos. For the photo a day project, I use the 365/10 tag and create a Smart Album to find them easier. I also upload to Flickr and the tags are retained. I don't worry too much about adding them to the set in flickr but I do that manually inside flickr. I wonder if I could eliminate a step there. Fortunately when I access the photos in iMovie, they are in chronological order so I can grab them all at once and drag them in. Currently I cross check the number of photos in my flickr set and inside iphoto to insure I haven't missed a day or forgot to tag them properly. Usually about once a month I do this and so far I'm bang on. As far as editing, I realize Aperture is much more powerful but I've been satisfied with basic touchups using iPhoto.


To find a song title for each photo is not really a big deal. I typically have one come to mind right away. Once in a while I leave it for a day until one comes to mind or I've farmed out the task to my twitter followers and they usually find something really good. Once I come up with the song I check youtube for it. Youtube is a great place to find music. I'll add the hyperlink to my flickr description. If I don't already have the song, I'll use this site to download the song. I don't keep the song but take it to Audacity and find 6-10 seconds of the song to use in my year end montage. I'm not sure of copyright infringement but I may well be violating it. Clipping the songs takes a fair bit of time since I don't do that everyday. Thus far I'll I've done it about 4-5 times where I'll clip a batch of songs in the evenings.

The real time consuming part comes from creating the soundtrack. At first I tried using iMovie to edit the audio song by song. This wasn't very good as I needed to crossfade the songs and iMovie isn't very good with multiple audio tracks. I switched to Final Cut but the challenge comes with the photos as it's more time consuming to add any type of pan and zoom to images. I decided to use Audacity to create a soundtrack. Bringing in each song clip and lining them up allowed me a high level of control. 

The soundtrack is indeed the most important element of this project and adjusting image duration would be much easier than trying to tweak the music. I exported it out as a mixed down mp3 file. I'm going to try and create 12 files, one for each month. Having 30 tracks in Audacity is a bit taxing on my computer so I think it's best to create a monthly video and bring them together.


As I mentioned, I wavered back and both between imovie and Final Cut. While I'm getting more comfortable with FC, iMovie handles images really well. I first changed the project preferences to have each image 8 seconds in duration which is about the average length of each. The longest I have in my March video was 13 seconds and the shortest about 5. I also turned off the Ken Burns effect and simply used it for a few photos rather than every one. 

That's a quick overview of the workflow. It took a bit of trial and error to get it right. The audio was definitely the most time consuming. To create that March soundtrack took me 3-4 hours alone. I'm going to try and do a bit more before the end of the year to avoid an overwhelming amount of work. I'm pretty pleased with the results. Any tips you have to improve this are welcome.