Review: FotoMagico 2

Share your photos with a professional presentation. (June 1st, 2007)

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Product Manufacturer: boinx Software

Price: $49.00 - $129.00

The Good

  • Easy to use interface. Variety of transitions. Can create professional looking presentations in under an hour. Two-tier pricing.

The Bad

  • Title editing is a little buggy.

The short story: If you need to create a photo slide show, then you really want this software!

Recently I needed to come up with a wedding anniversary present for my parents. In a last minute effort, I put together a marriage history slide show present with only two days lead-time. Thankfully, over the last 3 years I had scanned a few hundred 30 to 70-year old photos and slides. A couple of years ago I created a project like this using iPhoto and iDVD and did not want to revisit that solution. I have vague memories of frustrating hours reordering slides and little glitches, plus I do not use iPhoto to store my growing 30GB photo library, so I turned to FotoMagico.

New Features

Since we reviewed FotoMagico a year and a half ago, it has gone through a number of updates. Although I tried FotoMagico 1, another author completed the review and I was not impressed with the product. FotoMagico 2 is a very different product. There are now two versions, Express (a $30 price reduction) and Pro. I tested the Pro version, but everything I did is available in the Express version, which puts it in the totally affordable category. Version 2.x adds standalone slide shows, plus export options for use in iPods, iDVD, QuickTime, HD, and a screen saver option. Also available are watermark branding, and a more elegant interface that means this program is really easy to use. The Pro version also supports Aperture.

I was very impressed with how effortlessly I was able to throw the slide show together. In under two hours, I had an acceptable presentation, which received high praise from viewers. I didn't stop with my first attempt though. It was a snap to export an iPod version, so I shot off the first attempt via iChat to my sister who decided there were some time holes and she emailed me more photos. I dropped in those photos and the time holes shrunk, although the 1970s are severely underrepresented. As my slide show crept from five minutes to 10, I added new music too.

Slideshow in a Snap

FotoMagico takes a utilitarian approach to creation, you simply locate your photo folder(s), preview them in a panel on the right, then drag your selections into a bar (track) at the bottom of the screen. Panning and zooming is turned on by default. Zoom and rotation wheels that act like sliders, below the photo preview screen, gives you control over how close you zoom, where the picture appears on screen, and whether they rotate or not. Simple slider controls in an Options panel on the right includes choices for how long the photo stays on screen, how fast the pan and zoom reacts, and which one of fourteen transitions you use. My photos are a variety of resolutions, from 72 dpi to 300 dpi, so I had to be careful how big the photos appeared, and the percentage of zoom used. When viewed in the slide show preview, lower resolution photos look very pixilated if they are too large, so you just set the size for 100%. A checkbox turns the pan and zoom off and on.

More Photo Info

The oddly placed, yet handy Get Info box is under the Window menu instead of the File menu. If you're not sure of your photo's resolution, an arrow takes you right to the original photo to check it. You can also check other photo data from the information provided.

More Photo Info

To add music to your creation is another simple drag and drop into a track under the photo track. While there isn't a lot of control over the music, you can see how long the piece is, plus pull it from iTunes or any other folder. My intent was to use only music created or arranged by my jazz musician son, but I couldn't resist Seasons from the musical Rent. It is a perfect complement to viewing a life, from the wedding through to today.

While the slide show was a snap to complete, I did find a number of photos that needed to be tweaked and cleaned. The photos do not automatically update when changed, so you have to drop them in again and reset the options. A minor inconvenience, but that's all.

Nothing missing

There are no features missing, but I'd like to see a feature added like the iPod software includes, where you can choose to save all the original photos into one folder. The music slider is very simple and I found no way to fade music in or out, which would be a nice addition. In addition, music only starts and ends at the beginning of a slide, i.e. it will not start in the middle of a viewing a picture. You can mark photos to coincide with pieces of the audio; that helped me avert syncing the line "and when she died" with my very-alive sister's face!

Problems

The only glitches I encountered were in creating title slides. FotoMagico uses the system font panel, but it is hard to identify the default sizes and fonts. I had a bit of trouble editing text, locating my cursor, and identifying colors. It wasn't obvious how to copy settings from one title slide to another. Alignment became a wrestling match. A save, close, reopen, and fresh start resolved the issues.

You can download a demo from the site, but all your creations will contain a FotoMagico watermark. Kagi, a service I've used for years, handles the secure purchase option. FotoMagico Express for $49.00 is a bargain, but requires Mac OS X 10.4.

by ilene hoffman, Reviews Editor


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