Reviews: Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe
FastTrak Software recently sent me a review copy of their new software, Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe. Here's what the press release says:
"Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe is the ideal software package to create professionally produced slide shows with ease. Packed with a number of new features it is the perfect partner to your digital camera. Just read in your photos, add 3D crossfades, music, commentary and text and burn slide shows onto all leading disk formats (VCD, SVCD, DVD, Mini-DVD, CD-ROM) to watch them comfortably on your TV or PC)."
Now I'll be the first to admit that I've never used any software package like this before; 2Flyer Screensaver is probably the most similar thing that I've used. So I was interested to find out what Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe could do and how it would teach me to do it.
(out of 5 stars)
Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe costs a very reasonable £39.99 and is available in the UK from the retail store PCWorld. You can also purchase it online via the FastTrak website.
(out of 5 stars)
Installing Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe was pretty straightforward, although it did try and install DirectX 8A by default, even though I have a more recent version of DirectX already installed. Watch out for this if you routinely click the Next button without looking whilst installing programs.
There are a number of programs that are actually installed on your computer; Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe, Media Manager gold, MAGIX photo clinic and MAGIX Print Center. I concentrated on using Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe.
A useful Manual is supplied as part of the package, along with the installation CD and an extra CD containing over 400 background melodies, jingles and dubbing sounds.
(out of 5 stars)
These are the key features of Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe (as listed on the FastTrak website):
1. Import photos
Direct from your digital camera, scanner, hard drive, CD/DVD or the Internet. Complete folders or individual images by dragging and dropping. Size differences are adjusted automatically to fit the screen, image defects are restored quickly. You select sequence and cross-fade effects. Add music, subtitles, intros, comments or video clips as you like. And you're done! You can even add zooms and panoramic shots. In no time at all and ready to burn!
2. Perfect editing
Something special? No problem! Touch up "red eye", select picture details, pep up Internet photos and so much more. With the integrated MAGIX Photo Clinic 2.0, everything and anything is possible. Top-quality image manipulation for artistic or comical effects. Even those bad shots can be optimized for presentation in a flash. You'll find everything here!
3. Easy burning
Directly to CD-ROM, Video CD, Super Video CD, DVD or mini DVD. Fully automatic with optimum compression rates! Including automatically generated or customized interactive selection menus (background, picture splitting, text). Your slide show is ready in no time! Relax and enjoy on your TV or PC. Fully automatic as a series or picture by picture with a remote control. It's show time!
(out of 5 stars)
Using Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe falls into two main stages; "Edit Photoshow" and "Make Disk".
This is the first stage in creating your slideshow. You choose your source files - music, video, audio and images, arrange them on a timeline, add effects and borders and preview what you have created so far in this window.
There are 6 main tabs for choosing files and adding effects:
Allows you to import video and audio files from a CD.
- My projects
Allows you to browse for your project files via a Windows Explorer-type interface.
- My pictures
Allows you to browse for photos and images via a Windows Explorer-type interface.
- My music
Allows you to browse for music files via a Windows Explorer-type interface.
Lists a number of different effects, such as Fisheye and earthquake, that you can apply to a photo in the slideshow.
A range of different border effects that you can apply to a photo in the slideshow.
The default range of borders and effects is a little limited. I also didn't like the fact that if you click the My Pictures tab, navigate to the images that you want to use, then click another tab, when you go back to My Pictures tab you have to navigate all over again from the default folder.
The timeline at the bottom of the screen displays the images that you have selected so far. You can change the order by dragging and dropping them. Each image has 4 configurable options; Text, Rotate, FX and Photo Duration. Clicking FX opens a menu that contains a whole range of different effect that you can apply to the image. The Picture restoration option allows you to alter the brightness, sharpness and colour of the image (although I'd suggest that you do this in your usual image-editor).
The final important part of the Edit Photoshow screen is the instantly recognisable toolbar above the timeline, which allows you to preview your slideshow.
Once you have selected your images and arranged them on the timeline, you click the "Make Disk" tab to progress to the next stage. This screen allows you to choose how the interactive menu for your slideshow will look, and to burn it onto one of the many supported formats.
There are a wide range of menu layout templates that you can select from the Layouts / Enhanced DVD Layouts tabs at the bottom of the screen. Alternatively you can create your own customised layout by choosing options from the other four tabs - Text, Border, Background and Composition.
The Remote Control allows you to play and test your slideshow presentation, as if you were viewing it for real via a CD or DVD player.
Once you have configured the disc menu layout, the final step is to burn your slideshow onto a CD or DVD. There are two buttons to choose from - Burn Media Manager CD or Burn Disc. I chose the first option which uses Magix Media Manager to playback the slideshow on any PC. Unfortunately most of the effects that you can apply are not supported by this format - you would be better off choosing the Burn Disc option.
After then reading the help file, I chose the Burn Disc option and the Mini DVD format, which apparently is "particularly suitable for playing on the computer". i know next to nothing about video and audio formats - it would be nice if there was a little more hand-holding at the burning stage.
Overall Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe was very easy to use. There are a lot more options available than the ones that I have explained in this review, but you can quickly create your first slideshow and then add more complicated features later. Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe doesn't overpower you with everything that it has to offer. It had a cleanly designed and intuitive interface that allows you to learn about the program and what it can do at your own pace.
(out of 5 stars)
Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe was a very pleasant surprise. As noted in my introduction, this was a review copy of a software program that I wouldn't normally have considered buying, and therefore I wasn't expecting too much from it.
However, after an entire afternoon of choosing photos, adding effects, and designing menu layouts, I can honestly say that Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe is an excellent introduction to creating CD and DVD photo presentations. I haven't even touched upon some of the features that are on offer, including the whole area of audio and sound effects, so there's a lot more of the program left to explore.
Photos on CD & DVD 2.0 DeLuxe is a great way to liven up your photo collection and make it more appealing to friends and family, especially as many households now own a PC or DVD player. I'm going now to burn multiple copies of my great new slideshow and post them to all my poor family members...!