Moving Pictures

People have asked for more context, so I've redone this page. A few years ago, there was a video going around the Net that had a whole mess of pictures (mostly contrived to make fun of rural living) set to the song Dueling Banjos. I thought about it for a while and realized I could do the same thing pretty easily (make the movie, not make fun of rural living).

My first project was for some friends of mine. I had quite a few pictures of their family and I combined them with interesting pictures I had found in my surfing. I set the pictures to Dueling Banjos, made a movie & DVD, scored serious coolness points with the family. Someone else asked me how to do it, so I went back to my original project and mapped the timeline to give them. It was fairly easy from there to produce the second project, which is NSFW and not included here.

Now, whenever I produce a new project, I map the timeline for later use. I've included those timelines with each movie in case anyone wants to use them in their own movies. I've identified the version of each song I used (because different versions will vary in timing) and I've identified all the cuts I've made in the song to make it fit. I've given the start time of each picture clip along with the duration so you don't have to do the math. (Note that there is an occasional disjoint between the start times and the duration -- they don't match up. This is because the movies are made at 29.97 frames per second, but I don't provide durations down to hundredths of frames. Every once in a while, all those 3/100 differences add up to produce a mismatch in the duration/time of 1 frame. If you use my timelines, match your pictures to the start time rather than the duration in these instances.) I've also listed how many pictures are used in each movie so you can get an idea what matches your photoset.

I create my movies using iMovie on a Mac. I'm not familiar with Windows applications, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't something out there that lets you import pictures and then set the duration of the imported clips down to a single frame. That's pretty much all you need. (BTW, that's iMovie 6.xx -- the latest version of iMovie that Apple shipped actually removes features, including the ones that allow you to make movies like this. Happily, you can still download iMovie 6 from the Apple website.)

Carmina Mefi

(2:20 long, 242 pictures)
I used to participate in a community weblog called Metafilter. The men are stronger there, the women are smarter, and all the conversations are above average. The song is O Fortuna from Carmina Burana. The pictures in this movie are taken from the various Mefi meetups around the world. The graffitoed gentleman in the second clip is Matt Haughey AKA #1 -- the creator of Metafilter. The occasional non-human pictures are in-jokes known only to 80,000 or so people. (Mefi folks: I believe I've honored everyone's photo rights here. If I've posted a photo you don't want me to use -- or if you don't want your photo here -- please let me know where it is in the movie and I'll pull it.) UPDATE: I messed up by including some pictures I shouldn't have in this movie. I've replaced some of them where I could and banned the others. Timeline

Let There Be Jets

(2:24 long, 292 pictures)
If you like F-16s, this is the movie for you. The song is Let There Be Drums by Sandy Nelson. I made this movie for the folks at, but they never posted it. Most of the pictures are from there with the rest coming from Lockheed Martin. Timeline

Journey of the APOD

(6:40 long, 523 pictures)
This is one of my favorites. I've always liked the song (Journey of the Sorcerer by The Eagles) and the incredible pictures are from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). If you're not familiar with the site, it's worth a visit. This lo-res movie does not do the pictures justice. Timeline

Paravoz Cannonball

(2:45 long, 317 pictures)
A friend sent me a link and asked me to translate the Russian there. I checked it out and sat there clicking through pictures and just sort of squeaking like a hamster seeing a Ferris wheel for the first time. Paravoz is full of pictures of trains and trains and trains. If you like trains and don't visit this site, you're not using the Internet correctly. The song is Wabash Cannonball by Leon Russell and Willie Nelson. All the pictures in this movie are used by permission of the Paravoz website owner. Timeline

We Will Nuke You

(2:02 long, 218 pictures)
Despite the terrible destruction made possible by nuclear weapons, there is still a certain beauty in their explosions. These pictures are from The Nuclear Weapon Archive which is a one-stop collection of information about nuclear weapons of all countries. The song is We Will Rock You by Queen (like you didn't know, right?) Timeline

The Long Geishas

(3:16 long, 391 pictures)
I found Okinawa Soba's Flickr photostream through a post on MetaFilter. I'm pretty sure that, when the guys who invented Flickr look at this stream, they nod and think, "Yeah, this turned out much better than we imagined." Fascinating photos made even more remarkable by the fact that almost all of them are over 100 years old. Everyone in these pictures is gone now; in a few more years, everyone who knew them will also be gone and all we'll have left are the pictures. The song is The Long Riders by Ry Cooder. This file is larger than most because I just couldn't bring myself to compress those pictures any further. Timeline


(1:36 long, 99 pictures)
More photos from NASA, only this time looking in at the earth rather than out at the stars. Most of these pictures come from their Earth As Art series and are taken by Landsat. The song is Flying by The Beatles. Timeline

Stop Action Sock Movie

I made this movie to entertain some young friends. It has no soundtrack, so it's not really like the rest of the movies here. It's just an example of something else you can do with photos in iMovie. Set up your subject, take a picture, reset your subject in a slightly different position, take a picture, repeat. It's best if you can keep from moving the camera or adjusting the zoom between shots (something I should have refrained from doing in this movie).

In Work

These movies are either in-work or are projects without the original pictures. I've included them to provide more choices. You'll get tired of the pictures pretty quickly -- they're the same in every movie. I use this picture set to create the timeline and to get a count of the number of pictures I'll need for the final project.
Boogie (Timeline) (2:29, 277 pictures)
Busted Down Around O'Connelly's Corners (Timeline) (0:42, 58 pictures)
Crazy Train (Timeline) (4:46, 322 pictures)
How High the Moon (Timeline) (2:05, 216 pictures)
Telephone and Rubber Band (Timeline) (3:45, 347 pictures)
Two Brothers and a Stranger (Timeline) (2:41, 238 pictures)
Washington Square (Timeline) (2:46, 266 pictures)

Roll Your Own

The technique behind making a movie like this is fairly simple: pick a song, load it into iMovie, load some pictures into iMovie, and adjust the duration of the resulting clips to match the song. If you use one of the timelines I've supplied above, you already have the durations figured out. If, however, you want to use some other song, you will have to figure out your own timeline. Here are some tips and lessons learned: If you have any questions or maybe want me to do a song for you, you can email arthur at