Roxio have created a software application for organising your music, photos, video, burning CDs and authoring DVDs and with more people wanting to incorporate different mediums into their art, it hasn't come soon enough.
Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 Specification
- Burn your TiVo shows to DVD and watch them anywhere
- Create 16:9 DVD video productions and photo slideshows
- Capture, import and edit High Definition (HD) video files
- Create DivX HD discs with full DVD-like menus to watch on HDTV
- Create high quality multi-image photo slideshows in HD or on DVD
- Access files across all home PCs & play back from UPnP-compliant devices
- Share your photos using peer-to-peer technology
- Organize thousands of photos & create custom views to find photos fast
- Edit video like a pro with Timeline
- Preview and only capture the scenes you want from a DV camcorder
Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 Features
There are lots of features on Creator 9, but for this review I will be concentrating on the areas that have a benefit to photographers.
The main screen has nine options in the menu to the left of the page and clicking on one of these will bring an explanation of what that menu will allow you to do. The sub categories for each option are listed under the primary option and in the main pane of the window for easy perusal. Clicking on Home can take you back to the main menu area if you click on the wrong option, but there is no option for backtracking which would be easier.
The Photo option is the fifth option down the list and gives you the chance to import photos from a digital camera which is exactly what you can do in Photoshop or even MyComputer so is a little needless although it does bring them up in a thumbnail screen allowing simple transfer of your pictures. Fix and enhance pictures will load up the Photosuite component of the Creator program and allows alterations to be made to your pictures. You can also create a slideshow, indulge in photo projects and print or email photos.
Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 Fix & Enhance
The Fix & Enhance area is Creator 9's photo editing suite and is pretty basic. Tools available are split down into two factions of Common and All. Common tools are what Roxio think will be used the most and these are also split into four areas which are Open/create, Fix, Tools and Enhance. The Open folder allows importing images from a file on your PC, Camera and also importing Projects and cutouts. The Fix tab has Autofix which saturates and brightens to what it thinks is the best option, but my picture of a field came out vastly over saturated and over exposed without getting rid of the dust marks. A Crop tool is available as is Exposure, Brightness & Contrast, Red eye remover and Straighten tool. The Straighten tool allows a straight line to be drawn and the image will straighten to that line. Tools available are a Paintbrush, Touch up Brush and Clone tool. The Clone tool opens a tab and adjustments are made on that tab for the clone spot so in essence, the Clone works the same as any other but when selecting the area to clone, the spot has to be reset by pressing the button on the tab.
The Enhance tools have Special effects which range from good and useful like the Warm or Cool tones to bad and pointless like Ripped paper or Snow. Other tools are the Add or Edit text and the Clip art option.
The All folder has an expanded version of the previously mentioned tools. The Open tab has one addition of Replace photo which allows the photo in place to be changed to another whereas the Fix tab allows changes to the Saturation, Sharpness, Tint, Wrinkles, Blemishes, Dust, Scratches, Rotate, Flip and Resize. The Tools are extended to include Shapes both pre-defined and custom as well as Masking and cutting out to shapes, freehand, colour and edge tracing. The Enhance tab adds Frames like a wood or metal effect, Mat which is just a frame and Edge tools to its collection. Some of these features are very intelligent and handy to have, but they are littered with obvious and frankly rubbish alternatives. The save feature will save in Photosuite's own DMSP format which will retain all information of any changes that have taken place during editing. This means that if you crop an image then later on have the brainwave of keeping it as it was, the information is still stored and can be reversed. The option to save as a JPEG and other formats is available, but will not retain this type of information. A good thing to do would be to save in Photosuite's format until finished, then convert to JPEG from there.
Whilst on the subject of editing, undoing a mistake is a feature everyone uses and, if you're like me, abuses. Whilst testing the Clone brush, I made a mistake and went to Undo. The system undid all of the cloning I had performed, not just the last action. I found this extremely annoying.
Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 Creating a slideshow
Secretly, everyone loves showing off, otherwise these types of programs wouldn't be so popular. Opening up the slideshow creator is easy and the layout is simple to understand. Load photos into the application by clicking on Add Photos then drag them into the order you want them to be in. Click on Preview to make sure you are happy with the arrangement.
Along the top of the page are several options to help build the slideshow. The TV screen is another way to preview work already done, the next option is to remove selected items which are the boxes that have the orange band around them. Two buttons give the opportunity to rotate the images if they have not been altered already. And a zoom facility is also available. The thumbnail icon allows the slideshow to be viewed like images can be viewed in MyComputer from thumbnails to Detail which can come in useful when a lot of images are used. My slideshow lasted over 3min to correspond with the music, so stretched down the page. The final two options are very interesting. The letter A with a plus sign is to add text to the tile that is selected. I didn't want to do this, I wanted a presentation tile, so I used the final option of adding a blank plate and adding my text to that.
Four options are available at the bottom of the screen and they are Options, Back, Next and Cancel. Clicking on Options will allow changes to the Application settings. The Next button goes onto screen two which is labelled at the top left corner. Page two gives the wipe options. Roxio have tried to give them great names like 2x2 Extreme and Action, but the wipes are pretty standard. The duration of the slides can be altered too including a Fit to Audio option but that can extend the time that the slides are on screen by quite a bit if the track used is particularly long. The slideshow files save as a dmss file which is exclusive to the Creator 9 software. This is annoying as to change the format, the slideshow has to be edited in the Videowave program and the output changed in the File.
The slideshow I created is available for viewing here.
Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 Useful applications
Other options in the Creator 9 for the photographer include Projects which allows building Albums, Calendars, Cards, Collages, Gift Tags and Posters and all are easy enough to use and have step by step instructions to get to the end result.
Useful applications on the program that don't involve photography are the possibility of Backing up your files and the option of an Easy Archive. The DVD burning feature could come in useful for those who have large file images and a DVD burner of course.
Loading the system also automatically inserts a Drag-to-Disc feature on the desktop which is a nice feature for quick burning of files from MyComputer.
The Data tab allows copying of non-copyright protected CDs which is a useful tool for quickly reproducing your work. The Tools tab allows erasing of a re-writable disc, finalising of a disc to close it fully and give it more flexibility in other disc readers. There is also the option of designing and printing a disc label to make your CDs more attractive to look at.
Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 Verdict
Frankly, there is nothing new here that you cannot do with other programs, but for those who don't know or understand programs like Photoshop, this could still be a good idea. The main idea behind these types of programs is that they have all the creative things you need in one package which certainly saves on hard disk space, but they generally tend to be a less endowed with tools and features. The addition of the frames and edges are great, but some border on tardy and even desperate in a race to get as many features as possible. The features are standard on other applications and so would benefit by using less disk space. What lets the features down is the previously mentioned problem with the Undo button.
The Roxio Easy Media Creator 9 software costs £69.99 and is available from the ePHOTOzine shop here.