*FotoMagico4, slick slideshows made easy.

I was asked to review FotoMagico4 recently.  Knowing nothing about the software, I found it an interesting task when I read up on what FotoMagico was.  Being a parent to two young kids, I’m always looking for fun ways to document our events or outings for family and the sake of familial posterity.  Being a photographer, I’m always on the lookout for ways to present a streamlined visual product.  Coming at it from either of my personal directions, FotoMagico seems to tick all the boxes.  Learning a software program from the ground up can be daunting, so I put my head down and got to work learning this new version from Boinx Software.  Luckily, it proved to be pretty intuitive once I got going.  Read on for my experiences and opinions…

I wanted to see how easy it would be for a new user with no prior experience to create a slideshow from scratch using the software.  Opening FotoMagico4, your asked to start a project based on your output medium (i.e.: computer monitor – with the option to match your computer’s native screen res…cool, television – using different resolutions like 720, 1080, etc,  or projector).

Getting started in FotoMagico4

Next you’re presented with a blank canvas allowing you to navigate to your images or videos via the selection toolbar on the right hand side.

In the lower right of the screen, choose your medium

From there you can select which library from which you want to start dragging and dropping your images, videos or audio files.

Select your library at the top right of your FotoMagico project

From here, it’s pretty straight forward.  Once you’ve found the folder that houses your images/videos, merely drag and drop them into your timeline along the lower edge of the FotoMagico window.  You can adjust the zoom (i.e.: where the image starts and ends, Ken Burns style), the rotation, add text and finally add a musical score from your music library.

Finally, once done, you have options to export or share your slideshow in a very nice, easy to use export dialog.

I spent a couple hours playing around, uploaded the slideshow to my youtube account, and was excited to see the finished product.  Here’s my first attempt:

While mostly positive and enjoyable, I did come across a couple issues that I feel would have improved my experience…

While the audio waveform (showing all the audio peaks and valleys) and the audio stamping function (to sync the slide transitions to the music by pressing “M” while playing) are great, one thing I found to be an issue was adjusting the audio from a song when it plays over a video.  For instance, I would like the song to play at a normal volume while playing over still frames, but then I’d like to decrease the volume when playing over a video file so that I can hear the audio on that video file without having to turn it up, then as the video file finishes, I’d like to have the song come back up to normal levels.  While you can increase or decrease the audio in either a song, or video file, you have to do it globally (you can’t pick and choose where you want the audio levels to adjust) or at least  I couldn’t figure this out, and some searching and asking around on the internet, as well as watching the 15 minute new features video (see below) proved fruitless regarding this issue.  I’d hope this is something that is possible within the software, and very well may be, I just couldn’t figure out how to do it.

With the first version that I was given access to, I was having problems getting my slideshow to actually export properly.  I tried to upload it directly to youtube, which in essence is probably a pretty normal way many using this software would do it, but then as it finalized on my youtube site, a large chunk of a video within my slide show went to a solid green screen?!  Audio tracked properly and I could certainly hear the audio from the video in the background, but my slideshow was essentially ruined.  After speaking with the FotoMagico folks, they quickly remedied my problem and sent me a link to the software which after I deleted the previously installed program and downloaded the new version, I exported my slideshow to youtube without the aforementioned problems and all was fine.  At first I was worried that I may have to remake the slideshow from scratch (which I wasn’t happy about) but it seems it was more to do with the trial licensed software I was originally given.

If you plan to export directly to youtube, or burn to iDVD, I’d say the interface is streamlined and slick.  If you like to export the larger .mov files while customizing your compression and resolution, you can do so by way of the Quicktime export option.  It is a very intuitive interface which I greatly appreciate.  I feel a program such as this doesn’t need to be unnecessarily complicated while still being professionally effective, and FotoMagico4 certainly ticks this box.

If you have a few minutes, and are interested in FotoMagico4, this video outlines the new features in version 4 and shows how to adjust some of the stuff I’ve mentioned above, and much that I haven’t:

While a very cool and intuitive program, it wasn’t without it’s quirks and for $99, it might be a tough sell to those already using other slideshow software.  Any software purchase is an individual decision certainly, and for someone looking for a quality slideshow program that easily streamlines all of your content into a very easy to put together product, FotoMagico4 is definitely that.

I feel, if I needed to produce multi media slideshows for weddings, portfolio work or presentations, I would certainly look long and hard at FotoMagico4.  If you use a digital asset management software like Aperture or Lightroom, you know that there are limitations in the functionality of producing a finished, multi media slideshow through those programs and may see FotoMagico4 as the perfect, polished option to finish off your presentations and multimedia slideshows, and then directly send your projects to iDVD, or share them via youtube for your customers, friends or families.  You can request a FREE demo license via the Boinx software site HERE and I’d suggest it.  It is a Mac only software program, and I do not know if there are plans to release a Windows version.  Try it out, see how it suits you before you buy.  You gotta love the ability to give all these new software programs a full fledged test drive before dropping the money.  I wish other purchases were like this.

You can visit the Boinx software website HERE to see more about, and purchase FotoMagico4.

Thanks for the read, and let me know if you’ve got any questions.  I’d be happy to try and answer them, or contact the fine folks at Boinx to get answers.

As always, happy shooting.

Tyson

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