Still Life 2.0 is anything but ‘Still’

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Amazing. Unbelievable. Astounding. These are the adjectives that describe my thoughts while learning to use Still Life 2 from Granted Software. This is a stand alone application that will not only aid you in creating fantastic video clips for your movie projects, it’s a tremendous amount of fun Still Life 2 is extremely easy to use. Within a few minutes I was creating video from still images with control far more effective than iMovie 3’s Ken Burns Effect. In fact, Still Life could be referred to as the Ken Burns Effect on Steroids, but that’s hardly describes it all. With Still Life 2 you get total control over the effects. Using Bezier curved paths and the ability to rotate the image the results you get are simply incredible.

Interface

Still Life 2 looks a lot like an Apple iApp. The Aqua-metal is there, as is the same type of buttons you see in iMovie 3, and under the main window is a clip shelf. Click a button on the side and all the images you have imported slide out in a drawer. All the controls are easy to understand and easy to get to.

My First Project

Simplicity. Launch Still Life. Drag a picture from anywhere and drop it in the drawer. I used iPhoto for this. I opened iPhoto and chose a picture by clicking on it and simply dragged it to the Still Life Drawer. From the Drawer you drag the image to the shelf, under the main window. Click the image on the shelf and it appears in the main window. This image is called “Shot 1”….

To begin the process of creating a video clip from the still image you create a Shot 2 by clicking the “New Shot” button. Using Bezier curves or simply moving the onscreen box around is precise, yet simple to do. In the center of the box you’ll see a red square, from this red square you reach out and create an infinite amount of curves, straight lines, whatever… you totally control how the image will be panned.  To see a preview in real time of what you just did just click the Play button. Using openGL or Quartz Extreme the playback is as smooth as silk. You can even preview in full screen if you want. When you are satisfied with the effect you export the project. You have your choice of exporting the project to QuickTime, iDVD, or an iMovie project format. Under the Preferences you set the size you want to export the project, from a tiny 160×120 to a full screen 720X576. You also choose between NTSC and PAL. Like I said, you have total control.

Features (from the official Press Release)

Curved paths: Pans do not need to be in a straight line. You can lay out the perfect line with Bezier curves.
Camera rotation: If a part of the image is not aligned rotate the camera while zooming or panning to bring the feature into alignment. You can even spin the camera for dramatic effects.
iMovie Project Export: The iMovie Project Export feature creates a complete iMovie 2 project with a Media folder that is directly loadable into iMovie 2 or iMovie 3. All your clips are ready to go in the iMovie timeline in the same order they were arranged in Still Life.
OpenGL acceleration: We’ve added OpenGL acceleration for Quartz Extreme video cards. This acceleration is available for both previewing video and during the export process providing a 3-5 X speed improvement. The OpenGL preview also features a full screen mode.
Shot alignment guides: While laying out your shots handy alignment guides show up to let you get a pan perfectly straight or a zoom right on center.
Shot Inspector: For those needing fine control of shot characteristics the new Shot Inspector lets you tweak till your heart’s content.
Screensaver emulator: Everyone who sees Apple’s slide show screensaver wants to use that style in video slide shows. Still Life 2.0’s one click Screensaver styler turns your image collection into a beautiful slide show. Better yet you can tweak the scenes afterwards to perfect the presentation.

The Bottom Line

When I received this application for review I truthfully expected it to cost at least $150. With all the features, all the control, and the tremendous quality of the exported projects I thought the press material must have been mistaken when it listed the price of Still Life 2 at $14.95 (until April 12th, $24.95 after that). Still Like 2 can be used with iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, Avid, Premiere, or anything else you might use for video editing. Being a Stand alone application and having the ability to export in QuickTime it becomes a tool that can be used anywhere by any Mac user (running OS X of course).

It’s a spectacular application and I have no doubt that it will become one the most used tools in my video arsenal. And the ability to drag pictures from iPhoto to Still Life is just a huge bonus for me. Still Life 2 is a direct download from the Granted Software website. You can download a fully functioning copy of it for free (although it will export your project with a watermark) so you can see just how incredible it is. I’m betting Still Life has the highest percentage of people who download a demo and pay the product than any other product on the net right now. $14.95 for one of the most powerful, creative, and fun applications for the video hobbyist or professional? Come on now, who wouldn’t pay $15 for this thing?? Do yourself a big favor, head over to Granted Software right now and download it. Let me know if you too think this is just an amazing product. I’d love to hear from you.

Lisa Swanson