How to Make Moving Pictures (Just Like Harry Potter!)

Extra photos for bloggers: 1, 2

Snape. Malfoy. Hogwarts. Horcrux.

If none of those words make any sense to you, you’re not a Harry Potter fan.

The rest of you know that in the Wizarding World, people in photographs don’t stand still. They move, wave at you, wander out of the frame for a cup of tea…

In honor of the new Harry Potter movie (eeeeee! we can’t wait!) we’re teaching you how to make your own moving pictures.

It’s so easy, even Muggles can do it!
(That means you.)

How to Make Moving Pictures a la Harry Potter

p.s. We just snatched up the much anticipated Eye-Fi PRO Wireless Memory Card for the Photojojo Shop. Hooray for RAW uploads!

Um… Did That Picture Just Move?

As much as we like “capturing a moment” we’d still love it if the faces smiling up from our photo frames could move or wave or wink at us.

Turns out they can! And you don’t even need a special potion to do it.

All you have to do is take a short video, loop it, and play it in a digital frame.

Why on earth didn’t we think of this sooner?!

(If you can’t see the image on the right, click here to get QuickTime.)

What You’ll Need


  • A camera that can take videos
  • A tripod
  • A computer and basic video editing software: iMovie, Movie Maker, JayCut, Movie Masher, whatever.
  • A digital frame that can play video files such as .mp4, .avi or .mov.* Many 7-inch or larger frames have this capability, including ones by HP, Smartparts, Opteka and Kodak.

*Mac users may find that, in defiance of all logic, .mov and .avi files have the same names but are formatted differently for Macs and PCs. Conversion software like Prism should fix the problem.

Happy? Or Creeeeeepy?

Moving pictures can be happy, with smiling, waving, jolly people prancing about.

Or they can be creepy, changing just enough to make the person watching unsure whether it’s moving or not.

So what do you say? Smiley happy time, or creepy Scooby-Doo-style portrait with moving eyes?

How to Shoot a Moving Picture

  1. Set your camera up on a tripod and pose your favorite person in front of it.
  2. Set your camera to video mode.
  3. Take 15-30 seconds of video.

The person can smile, wave, move around, or just stare at the camera.

No talking, though — it’ll look weird. And no chewing gum unless you brought enough for everybody.

Editing Your Moving Picture

editing-smWhen you’re done, load your video into whatever video editor you have.

Here’s how to create a loop of your moving picture:

  1. Select the original video clip, copy it, and paste it at the end of the original clip.
  2. Select the pasted section and set it to play backwards. (In iMovie, open “Window” -> “Clip Adjustments” and check the “Reverse” box where it says “Direction”.)
  3. Now you have a loop of one forward and one backward repetition.
  4. To make a longer loop, copy both clips and paste them at the end of the first loop. Repeat this until the loop is as long as you want.

Showing Moving Pictures in a Frame

Now to show off your tricksy moving picture!

Save or export your moving pictures as one of the file types your digital frame supports (.avi, .mov, etc.), then upload the file to the frame.

Set the frame to play video. To show one moving picture continuously, set the frame to repeat (this is the default on many frames, including Kodak’s M820). It will keep playing your moving picture until you tell it to stop.

If you want to show multiple pictures, edit each one until the is loop as long as you want (say 5 minutes), then load all of them into the digital frame and set it to play video. The frame will play each loop, then move on to the next one.

Showing Moving Pictures on Your Computer

You say you don’t have a digital frame?

That’s okay — you can show moving pictures on your computer instead.

Just play the moving picture full-screen on your computer. Set your computer to never go to sleep, and it’ll just keep playing the clip over and over.

If you have trouble playing the moving picture, load it into iTunes, add it to a playlist and set it to repeat. Then play the moving pictures full screen, and you have an instant digital frame.

Sharing Moving Pictures

Want to share your moving pictures?

Upload them to Vimeo, Flickr or YouTube so your peeps can see them and save copies for themselves.