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March 9th, 2000


Electrifier Pro
Contact and Other Information
Manufacturer: Electrifier, Inc.
Product Home Page: Electrifier Pro
Description: Multimedia content creation suite
Address: Electrifier, Inc.
2605 Meridian Parkway Suite 205
Durham, NC 27713
Price: US$395
Telephone: 919-806-4000
Fax: 919-806-4014
Requirements PowerPC-based Mac
Mac OS System 7.5 or later
24 MB of RAM

System Used For Testing Blue & White PowerMac G3 400 MHz
512 MB RAM
[Review]
Unleash The Power Of QuickTime: Electrifier Pro Reviewed
by Gavin Mahan

Introduction

Electrifier Pro is one of the most comprehensive QuickTime content creation applications around. Simply put, it unleashes some of the more advanced features of Apple's QuickTime. QuickTime is truly an overlooked full service multimedia technology. When most people think of QuickTime they usually only think of digital video or audio files that act as a 'push media,' meaning that after the viewer presses the play button, all the information is pushed at them in a manner similar to a television show. With Electrifier Pro content creators can break away from the standard 'push media' mind set, by creating a complete set of user-interactive features. That makes it much more of a 'pull media' format, similar to a web page.


Overview

With Electrifier Pro you can create interactive QuickTime movies that respond in many customizable ways to the viewer's mouse movements and clicks. On a simple level you can create a QuickTime movie with custom buttons, such as play, stop, pause, rewind and fast forward. For web distribution you can create several instances of the same movie file that are optimized for different internet connections. A viewer with a high speed connection receives a higher quality version of the same presentation than someone on a 28.8 modem receives. Using QuickTime in this fashion makes the download time about equal for all connection speeds, although as file size decreases the quality of the content decreases as more compression is applied.

An advanced project could for instance include a comprehensive product catalog that has an opening screen with thumbnail pictures of different areas of a QuickTime or several different types of QuickTime movies including QuickTime VR. The viewer could then skip right to the area describing the product he or she is most interested in. Creating QuickTime movies this way gives the viewer much more control over what they actually see, making it more of a 'pull media' experience. Electrifier Pro also provides a very simple-to-use high quality QuickTime compression tool to insure your audio and video are the smallest file size possible. Final interactive QuickTime projects can be used anywhere a standard QuickTime movie can, adding a completely new level of interactivity to the standard methods of interactive authoring. With all this plus included support for QuickTime VR, and any of the hundreds of different supported file types, Electrifier Pro has poised itself as a very tantalizing option for content creators.


Working With Electrifier Pro

Working with Electrifier is almost too easy. Importing elements is a simple matter of dragging and dropping files from the Finder into Electrifier Pro. The interface looks very similar to Adobe Photoshop, making it instantly familiar to the hundreds of thousands of Photoshop users around. The tabbed palette design makes Electrifier very easy to use on smaller monitors, but unlike Photoshop the tabbed palettes aren't removable into their own palettes, making it difficult for people with large monitors to spread the palettes out in a more efficient layout.

After you import all your different media elements into Electrifier Pro, adding effects and/or interactivity is very simple. There is a list of 'effects' and 'actions' in the 'modifiers' palette each can be drag-and-dropped onto the specific element you want to modify. 'Actions' are the basic programing pieces used to create interactivity. Some of the actions include 'play/stop movie,' 'go to time,' 'set loop,' 'set selection' and 'play selection only.' The last three are quite important for creating interactive presentations. By adding a 'continue' button and setting your movie to loop, then setting a selection in a specific area, you can loop only that section of your QuickTime until the viewer presses the continue button.


Effects

'Effects' are used for things that don't necessarily require viewer interaction and/or are activated by 'Actions.' Some of the effects include 'scale,' 'rotation,' 'animated slant,' 'perspective,' various audio settings and all of QuickTime's built-in effects and transitions. These built-in effects are 'zero bandwidth' meaning they render on the viewer's computer, dramatically reducing file size of a similar effect rendered and compressed before the viewer downloads it.


Some QuickTime Issues

We noticed a few minor problems with the QuickTime effects, end users who have QuickTime 4.0 may experience visual glitches if the content was created with QuickTime 3.0. The simple solution is to create the content with QuickTime 4.0, which doesn't have the visual glitches even when viewed with QuickTime 3.0. Electrifier has posted online several workarounds and an update that should solve these problems.


Conclusion

As QuickTime evolves so will Electrifier Pro. Electrifier has already stated that Electrifier Pro 2.0 will include full support for the few features present in QuickTime 4.0 that cannot be achieved with simple workarounds in the current version. Going against the current trend of charging customers for upgrades, Electrifier has said the 2.0 upgrade will be free for owners of earlier versions. Electrifier's web site has a very useful tips and techniques section, and an e-mail list for users to exchange tips and information.

As multimedia technology progresses so does the learning curve. It's quite refreshing to find an application that is as feature-filled yet simple to use as Electrifier Pro.


Final Score (Maximum Score is 5 Gadgies)
4 Gadgies
Pros Easy to use
Powerful
Good Support
Online Resources
Cons Problems with some effects
Some QuickTime issues




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