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REVIEW: izotope PhotonShow
Posted by Arne Hess - on Monday, 22.07.02 - 19:50:00 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 8767x
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This review is not about wireless but about one of the coolest applications, I've seen for a long time: izotope PhotonShow!
I was always envious on the guys like Phillip Torrone who programs in Flash as it is nothing. I'm not talking about the hancy fancy Flash applications but about a pure presentation. Now izotope released PhotonShow which makes it pretty simple for everybody to create picture slide shows but not for PCs only but also for Pocket PCs.
So last night I've tried to create a cool slide show with some pictures from my last NYC trip last year - and here it is: "My Tribute to New York City".

PhotonShow allows you to make animated shows from your photos. The shows are based on "themes" created by a wide range of professional designers. You can easily share your photos by combining them with PhotonShow themes.
The shows that you create are Macromedia Flash (SWF) files. These shows can be shared on the web, CD, and even on mobile devices such as pocket PCs. Any platform that supports the Macromedia Flash player is capable of playing PhotonShows.

Creating a Slide Show
First of all, you need an idea! Like every software PhotonShow doesn't helps you to be creative but supports you in your creativity! So select the pictures you want to use for the slide show and keep the directory in mind open a new project. Here you can differentiates between Desktop or Pocket PC shows. The main difference is, that the Desktop version includes more themes (which makes sense as the screen resolution is higher) while the Pocket PC version will optimize your pictures for the 240 x 320 pixel resolution of your Pocket PC.

In the next screen define the slide show title. Now it becomes serious, but easy to do.

Select the theme you want to use on your Pocket PC. Here a various selection of themes and transition effects is available. If you took the wrong one, no problem, you can change it later anyhow.

Now it's time to select the photos you want to add to your slide show. Open the proper folder and mark the pictures you want to use. After you select it, you can simply rearrange the order of the pictures by drag and drop.

Pretty exciting is the next screen. Here you can add text captions to every single picture or even voice captions!

To add a text caption to a photo, click the photo in the filmstrip and type a text caption in the box labeled "text caption". To add a caption to another photo, click the next photo in the filmstrip or use the arrow keys to move through each photo in the filmstrip. If you are adding captions to all photos in a large show, you can quickly move to the next picture by typing the Control and the Enter key at the same time when you finish typing your caption.

To add a voice caption to a photo, click the photo in the filmstrip and click the "set voice caption" box. With a microphone connected to your PC, click the "record" button and speak your caption. When you are finished speaking the caption, click the "stop" button, which appears in the location of the record button when recording. Note that you can also select an existing wave file for a voice caption by clicking the "browse" button and browsing to the wave file.

Once a voice caption has been recorded or selected, you can preview it by clicking the "play" button. If necessary, re-record it by clicking the "record" button again.

To trim the ends of the voice caption and add special effects, click the "trim and effects" button. This provides you with a screen where you can trim the beginning and end by dragging the vertical black lines or select a special effect for the voice. The space between the vertical black lines is the section of the voice recording that will be used in your PhotonShow.

In the following step you can touch up individual photos by adjusting properties such as lighting and sharpness.
You can touch up photos to change their appearance in the show. This editing does not affect the original pictures saved on your PC, but only the copy of the photo used in the show.
You can view the before and after changes to your photo by dragging the dotted line that appears in the middle of the photo. The region to the left of the dotted line is before processing and the region to the right is after processing.

The following touch up operations are provided in PhotonShow:

  • Remove Redeye
    This allows you to selectively "click away" red eye. Select a brush size that is approximately the same size as the eyes of the subject in the picture, and click the red eyes in the photo. The red portions will be transformed to a darker neutral appearance. Do not worry about clicking the white portion of the eye, as the red eye removal will only affect reddish colors. That said, reddish tones in skin can be affected, so it is important to match the size of the red eye brush to the size of the eyes.
  • Trim and Crop
    This allows you to select a specific region of the photo to be displayed in the show. To trim the photo, select a handle and drag it. You can move the center of the trimmed region by clicking and dragging the middle of the rectangle.
  • Adjust Lighting
    This allows you to make adjustments to the lighting of the photo. Contrast expands the separation between the bright and dark areas of the photo, while brightness and gamma control the overall lightness or darkness of the image. To reset the lighting controls to their initial state click the "reset" button.
    In many cases, you can improve the lighting condition of your photo by simply selecting the Auto Adjust option. This will disable the manual slider controls and adjust the lighting conditions automatically.
  • Adjust Color
    This allows you to make adjustments to the color of the photo. Increasing the saturation slider by dragging it to the right adds more color or vividness to your photo. You can also adjust the overall brightness of the photo using the Brightness slider.
  • Sharpen
    If your photo is a little dull or blurry you can sometimes improve its appearance with the sharpness control. Drag the sharpness slider to the right to increase the amount of sharpening. To reset the sharpen controls to their initial state click the "reset" button.
  • Soft Focus
    You can soften the photo with the soft focus control. Dragging the slider to the right provides a blurred portrait effect. To reset the soft focus controls to their initial state click the "reset" button.
  • Remove Dust and Speckles
    This provides a filter that can average out small imperfections in the photo. Dragging the slider to the right removes dust and speckles. To reset the remove dust and speckles controls to their initial state click the "reset" button.
  • Rotate and Flip
    You can rotate or flip individual photos using these buttons. Rotating or flipping photos in this screen does not change the original photo, but only a copy of the photo that will be used in your PhotonShow.

In the next step you can enter credits, an author, and date for the show. But you can also select an MP3 or Wave file as a soundtrack for the show. Click the browse button and select the soundtrack file you want to use. If you click the "get featured soundtracks" button, your web browser will take you to a page on iZotope's web site that can provide recommendations for free MP3 soundtracks for your shows.

That's it and you are ready to create your Macromedia Flash file. After your slide show is created and save, you get a preview window, where you can watch your work. If your no happy for any reasons, from here you can go back or even open that project later again to change everything: from the themes, to the order, to the captions.

And here, how it would looks on your Pocket PC. Click "Play" to run it from here!

Please don't click "Menu" as it doesn't works in this preview!
Loading the Flash could takes some time!

Isn't it cool? And it took 15 minutes only to create this slide show in Flash!

Final Conclusion

What I've shown you here was the creation for Pocket PCs only. The part for the Desktop PC is near the same but comes with additional themes. However, both versions supports the voice captions and background music which makes this slide show generator so unique! Also it's so fantastic to generate Macromedia Flash files and not any propriety formats that you can use your slides on every PC or Pocket PC (Macromedia Flash is required).
I've used izotope's PhotonShow last time to show the parents of my girlfriend our digital photo album and it was so fantastic to use a music in the background which makes every presentation more alive!
But I can also see business scenarios: Can you imagine to compile picture reviews of congresses or other events and show this your colleagues with a Margi Presenter-to-Go card (see my review here) and a video projector? I think that's pretty amusing for everybody and thousand ways cooler than that typical and boring note in the E-Mail how a congress was going!

Also I'm thinking now about putting a Pocket PC on the wall "just for decoration" - with all my trips around the world on a CF card... ;-) With this software my Pocket PC will becomes a real interactive picture frame!

Another way to share your slide shows is iZotope's PhotonShow web sharing service. Here you can upload all your picture shows to a dedicated server (you will get 250 MB) and share it with your friends via E-Mail.

PhotonShow is available in two versions: PhotonShow Premium Edition for $39 introductory special and PhotonShow Basic Version for $29. A trial-version isn't available so far but a 30 days money back guarantee!

Now I feel a little bit more like a "Flash developer" ;-) and I can share my photos with my friends on Desktops, my Pocket PC or through the web, doesn't matter! A great tool for everybody who owns a digital camera and a Pocket PC!

Cheers ~ Arne

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