With Animoto being such a big player now in the slideshow creation world, you may not be thinking about any other slideshow software at all. If you haven’t experienced any frustration with the lack of control with Animoto, that’s fine. Stick with it. I’m more of an idealist though, or at least that’s what Larissa calls me. She keeps telling me that I wear rose color glasses, but I honestly can’t remember picking up a pair to try them on. I digress. Animoto has done a good job for us, but I want more. ProShow Web along with the companion Producer have some pretty amazing features that the almighty Animoto hasn’t even attempted yet. Who knows? Maybe it’s being beta tested and will come out tomorrow, but they haven’t yet. Check out the features that I’m talking about – selectively applying an effect to a single image or clip, having multiple songs for a single slideshow, importing the slideshow into a desktop app to make fine tuned adjustments, and burning straight to a DVD from ProShow software.
Are your eyes wide open in disbelief too? I was wondering how I hadn’t heard of these guys up to this point. Before I got too excited, I knew I had to test this out to see if the software would live up to it’s claims. Here’s how the software stacked up.
How our studio uses slideshows
If you’re the kind of guy that goes straight for the last page of the book to see how it ends, go ahead and skip this section. See if I care. For the rest of you that want to follow in order though, I’d like to share a couple of cases for how we use slideshows here. The most frequent use is for online promotion. We post videos to our Facebook fan page (or whatever they’re called now), and we embed the videos on our website. We also use the videos to start off order consultations. Basically all the video has to do is play on the laptop. We also do photo fusion where we combine photos and video into 3 or 4 different mini-videos that end up coming together to make a single DVD video. I guess you’d still call that a slideshow. Not sure, but either way, we need our slideshow software to be able to do that. Now that you know how we use slideshow software, let’s see how ProShow performed.
Effects for a single clip
Using Animoto, one of the things that is lacking (in my opinion) is the ability to apply effects to an image or video clip. Actually, it’s more about the video clip than the image. I can edit an image in Photoshop in just a few seconds to look how I want it to, but video is a little tougher. Of course I could use Adobe Premier to change the color of a video clip or to add some style to the video, but I honestly don’t feel like I can afford the extra 5 minutes to do that for each clip I want to modify. Doing a fusion video takes probably 6 to 10 hours already. I’m not going to extend that to 20 hours for a few effects on my video clips.
If I want to make a clip black and white in ProShow web, I can add that effect in just a few seconds. There were plenty of transitions and other effects to add too. I think I would have liked to see more color options, but they probably left the less common color effects in their desktop app, ProShow Producer. Fair enough.
Multiple songs for a slideshow
Some songs are just too short for slideshows. And of course, the ones that are short are the ones you want to use for your slideshows. Go figure. Check out this brilliant idea – multiple songs. Hey, hey. Somebody’s thinking. It’s pretty simple to do too. Just pick which songs you want to use, and at the end of the first song, there’s a transition to the second song.
Desktop software for more control
I wouldn’t expect a web application for creating slideshows to look like Adobe Premiere, but why wouldn’t there be a desktop app that would give you that kind of control? Actually, the desktop app wasn’t much like Premiere at all. It was actually designed around creating a slideshow where Premiere was made to be so generic that you don’t have a clear plan laid out in front of you. For creating a slideshow, it’s probably a good idea to make the process as simple as possible, so ProShow just scored a few points in my book.
Burn a DVD straight from the software
I don’t know if you could say that I hate Adobe Encore, but I probably get a little cranky every time I use the software. It’s far from intuitive. To use it correctly, I’m sure I’d have to take a full semester course to learn to correctly burn a DVD with Encore. Good news with ProShow Producer, I figured it out just by naturally interacting with the software. Hey, how about that? A software designed with the user in mind. I really didn’t change most of the options, but it’s nice to know that I can tweak things if I need to. Basically, I was just looking for a DVD that was playable in my DVD player. Burned one to test, and it worked great. Sweet – see ya Encore. I’d say it’s been nice knowing you, but that would be a lie.
I know this wasn’t exactly in the list of must-have’s for me, but having easy export options definitely makes getting to the end product a lot easier. Every time I want to export to another format in Premiere, I feel like I always have to go research what the best settings are. How do I export best for Vimeo? OK, now what about YouTube? I don’t want to remember that stuff. Seriously! It looks like ProShow Producer took a lot of time out of the research game by building those specific export options into the program. Makes me happy.
What would make ProShow even better
ProShow passed all the tests that I had set out for it, but there’s always room for improvement. The royalty free music selection was good enough to get started, but as a long term solution, it would probably make sense to visit Triple Scoop Music to buy a few more songs. Triple Scoop serves up some pretty sweet tunes anyway, so no big deal there. It seems like there are plenty of transition effects to make moving from one image to another stylish, but it would also be nice to have a few more cool effects that could be applied to a video clip – things like an old time movie effect or slow motion, etc. There’s a good possibility that these effects exist in the Producer desktop app, and I just missed them among so many other editing options.
While an Animoto video does feel more polished, I definitely like the extra control I get with ProShow. I would think that as ProShow continues to improve their product, they’ll end up getting that polished look for their videos too. There are plenty of extra add-ons for ProShow that I saw looking through the effects, so I’m thinking that I’ve barely scratched the surface of the possibilities with ProShow. The bottom line for me is that I’m very impressed with the amount of tweaking you can do to the video (exactly what Animoto does NOT have), and I could definitely see that with some finishing touches on the slideshow effect engine (yea, I completely just made that phrase up), ProShow has the chance to be top dog in the slideshow software market.
For more information on ProShow Web, visit www.ProShowWeb.com
Here’s a sample video that I put together with ProShow: