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"Disney's PhotoMovie" puts the snap back in your snapshots

"Disney's PhotoMovie" puts the snap back in your snapshots

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Once again, I returned home from a trip to WDW this past August. Not paying for the food plan was great. We loved the addition of Captain Jack to "Pirates." I like the slightly different parade at the Magic Kingdom. We were a little bummed out by the huge line for "Turtle Talk with Crush." I think my 4 year-old twin boys would've really gotten a kick out of that. We ate at some different restaurants, saw some things we never saw before and as usual returned home exhausted but happy.

Something we took advantage of this year for the first time was Disney's PhotoPass. This is truly a great service. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the concept. You're given a credit card-like PhotoPass card. Each time a Disney photographer takes your picture, they scan your card and you can then view your photos later on in the park, or even better, you can view them for up to 30 days after you get home online. To me, this takes away a little bit of the pressure you might feel when you are viewing the photos in the park and it cancels out one more line to wait on. It was great to come home and sort through the pictures I took myself and then log onto DisneyPhotoPass.com and see if they got something that I missed. Then I purchased a few and ordered some copies for Grandma and Grandpa.

A few days after I logged on to PhotoPass for the first time, I received an interesting email. PhotoPass was offering a different service in addition to the online photos. Something called Disney's PhotoMovie was being offered to me. I'm in the TV business, so I was intrigued. It seemed that Disney would allow me to load my personal trip photos online, sort through my PhotoPass photos, mix them with some stock photos of WDW (the Partners statue, Mickey on the grass with Cinderella Castle behind him, a nice aerial view of World Showcase, that sort of thing) and then separate them into chapters according to location.

Here's the aerial view of World Showcase.

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Then Disney would take all of these photos, mix them together with some appropriate magical music, some background video clips, add some Disney magic special effects and create a video montage of my trip for me. The price seemed a little high at first glance, $49.95 for a DVD copy, $19.95 for any additional copies, but I thought it would be a nice surprise for the kids and a great keepsake of our trip. After all, this was the first trip to the World for my twin boys, and, believe it or not, it was my parents' first visit as well.

Loading all the photos took some time. Sorting through my best and most favorite choices wasn't easy. The stock footage of WDW was a real plus. Sometimes, you just don't get the right shot and the pros that photograph this place for a living certainly have the right touch. They allowed 68 photos to be used in any configuration you chose. Some shots I could never get, like the aforementioned Mickey on a grassy knoll in the hub with the castle in the background …

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc. 

…or a nice steady shot of a Kilimanjaro Safari truck rolling through the savannah flanked by giraffes.

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

There were lots of great choices. Once I picked all of the pictures I wanted, it was time to group them into chapters. Each still was placed into a chapter appropriate frame and surrounded by background video specific to the location. There were 5 different chapters made available, one for each park and one called "Beyond the Parks."

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

 with background video of your chosen resort. Here's a still capture of the background video for Port Orleans Riverside.

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

The menus, music and special effects on the finished product were quite impressive really. Here's the opening menu page …

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

…and here's the beginning, a photo album which opened to reveal our video.

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

The background video and choices of music were fantastic. They mixed different video aspects from all over WDW in each respective chapter and added some special appearances from Disney characters. Sometimes the characters would do something to wipe the still image off or on the screen.

For instance, here's Donald and Goofy pulling a still picture of Mickey down from the ceiling …

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

…which Donald then proceeds to tear through …

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

…revealing the photo I took of my daughter Samantha and Piglet.

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Other stills were pushed onto the screen by Mickey and Minnie or painted on by cast members holding paintbrushes.

All of these character appearances really impressed my 7 year-old daughter and her 4 year-old brothers. As usual with most Disney extras, the looks on their faces made it all worthwhile. Technically it was very impressive and a lot of effort went into the production of the DVD. Personally, I thought it was well worth the money. The added option of viewing all of my chosen stills full screen as a simple slide show, with a great medley of Disney instrumentals (Spectromagic, Once Upon a Dream, Part of Your World, etc.) as accompaniment, was certainly a bonus. It really is a great keepsake.

As I finally got around to writing this article, I logged back onto DisneyPhotoMovie.com to check a few details and was surprised to see the following message.

Copyright 2006 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

So, I wonder, was PhotoMovie just a pilot test? If it comes back will it be the same? I thought it was pretty impressive as it was. I wonder if it was too complex an offering for the price. Maybe it will never come back. Maybe it will come back and be more expensive.

Perhaps I have more of a special keepsake than I thought.

What do you all think? Does a service like PhotoMovie interest you readers out there? If you used it did you have the same reaction we did, or were any of you disappointed? Do you think 50 clams is justifiable for a customized vacation video? Or is it just another way of separating you from your money, even after you've arrived home?

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  • >> Does a service like PhotoMovie interest you readers out there?

    Sure, it sounds great to me.  When I think of how many times my kids have watched "A Day in Disneyland" with it's outdated characters and attractions, I can only imagine how popular this would be.  I'd love it, too.

    >> Do you think 50 clams is justifiable for a customized vacation video?

    I think it's right at the edge.  If it were $70, I'd probably pass on it.  That said, it'll probably be $79.95 when it comes back again.  8-(

    >> Or is it just another way of separating you from your money, even after you've arrived home?

    Yup.  It seems that Disney has adopted this sad legacy (we'll do anything to charge you too much money, just so we can make more profit!) and the public knows it.  I hope they change their ways before it goes too much further.  So many things already feel like a rip-off--can you believe the rack rates of on-site "deluxe" hotels, or how low quality Disney character bed sheets are, or how yucky some of the foods are (my daughter won't even finish her Princess vitamins, and I won't buy the cereals again, ew!).

    I wish Disney would go for the "great products at a premium price" niche.  This video sounds like an example of that, but I worry about how "premium" the price will be!  If they keep the prices at "premium" but not blood-letting levels, but for excellent quality merchandise and experiences, I'm sure I'd buy even more than I do now.

    Sue in TX

  • Great article.  I've got a couple questions.

    Is it burned on a blank DVD?  Or is it a pressed DVD, like you'd buy in a store?  A lot of DVD players, particularly older models, won't play blank DVDs.

    How does the DVD come packaged?  Is it in a keepcase?  Can you personalize the artwork?  Or does it just come in a paper envelope?

    How long was the whole video montage?  About how long is each picture on screen?

    Thanks again for the informative article.

  • Yay!  Something to read besides the endless series of Scrooge articles!  Thank you!  ;)

    >> Do you think 50 clams is justifiable for a customized vacation video? Or is it just another way of separating you from your money, even after you've arrived home?

    I'd bite at $35, maybe even $40 if its as cool as the author says -- but when I return home after a WDW vacation, my cheap - ahem, I mean frugal side kicks back in.  Things I'm willing to overpay for on my vacation don't do it for me once I'm back home.   Essentially, this is just a glorified picture disc using some WDW stock photos & video overlays.  $50 seems high -- especially considering all the time, money and effort I'll put into my normal post-vacation scrapbook and the editing of my own home video footage anyway.

    Also, anyone who's ever burned cds on a home pc knows $20 a copy is ridiculously high.  Copies would be a lot more reasonable priced around $10 -- and they'd sell more at that price too.  Not only would a person be more likely to buy one for Grandma & Grandpa, but at $10 bucks a pop, all the aunties and uncles could get one too.  

    Its a cool idea, just not priced in a way that would get me to take advantage of it.

  • What about a digital version for 10 dolllars or so that you burn yourself?

  • I was going to do it last year until I saw the price. WAY too expensive.

  • I would maybe pay that much for a DVD like that if it was for a REALLY special vacation--a Honeymoon, Graduation present, 16th birthday, something of that nature. Not for the normal "family outing" trip, though--for that sort of thing regular photographs will do.

  • When I was in WDW back July '05 my friends and i used the photopass service and after every day of our 12 day trip, before bed we would check the photos on the site for fun, we knew we would never buy any b/c of the high prices per photo. so it's a very nice service. but little did we know that if you don't access the site and register the card, you can keep loading photos on to it for, what we've come to understand, a while. but apparently also, if you do access it and want the 30 days extended, you can easily call up and have a cast member extend the time period for you.  (Just a word, all the aforementioned is based off of what many cast members, including my sister have informed me about, so there is a chance i could be wrong)  This DVD service thing, sounds amazing, i would love to get one, but maybe if it held more photos.  Now back to 7/05, when i was in epcot there was a sign in one of the shops that you could use your photopass and have every picture that is on the card, put onto a DVD slideshow for you viewing pleasure (the cast member there said it was possible to put 250 pics on it, if not more)(??), but it was $99. that was a little much. that service is now discontinued, i'm guessing it wasn't as popular as this DVD movie service will most likely be. So i'm guessing Disney is just constantly working through the kinks of the photopass service finding different ways of making our memories more special and longer lasting.  it's nice to see that they're putting the effort behind this and changing with technology to give us better ways of preserving our memories. :-)

  • I make these for people.

    Though Disney ones I usually make for my family, ive done wedding and funeral ones for years.

    I dont have the special disney characters. But ive got an anthology of disney park music, and an amazing editing program. And i charge $19.99 plus shipping.

    Its tradition to watch last years Disney At Christmas DVD before we leave for that years Disney At Christmas. Ive got stock photos, lots of stuff.

    I would never pay for the Disney one. I know for a fact that its not personalized, or at least not "personilzed" to my rigorous standards. lol. Not when i can make the same thing and enjoy it much, much more.

  • There's very simple-to-use software out there that let's you quickly and easily do this yourself.

    I have it on my machine at home (came pre-installed from Dell). I can't remember the exact title, but I know it has Director in the name ... DVD Director or something maybe?

    Anyway, I can't imagine the software costs more than a hundred bucks. Why pay $50 to create one DVD when you could pay $100 and create as many as you want?

  • Back in my day, I can remember watching the cutting-edge color dot matrix printer in the gift shop at the base of Spaceship Earth slowly and meticulously printout your complimentary photo with Mickey. It took well over five minutes to print rat-tat-tat-tat-tat and we liked it!

    The folks who think nothing of staying at the Grand Floridian or wouldn't be caught at the Contemporary unless it was on Concierge Level won't think twice about this - it's an automatic sale. In the old days - ok, the real old days - I would think the disks are just priced this high while they work out the kinks. Now - it just sounds like gouging. (It's like a thump sound)

    I just can't imagine that the average family doesn't have at least one tech-savvy member that can do this at home. If you cut the price in half - to $25, or the price of a regular non-discounted hollywood dvd - I would think sales would more than double.

    Until then, greenyskp is doing all my digital work and costuming.

  • curmudgeon:

    I also did the painting in my avatar

    (yes i know its an Alison lefcourt reproduction, my mom fell in love with the one in art of disney, and so I made her a smaller one for christmas)


  • and painting.

  • Do you do windows, too?

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