Create Magical Slideshows on the Mac With FotoMagico 4

| In-Depth Review

Photo slideshow applications are nothing new to the Mac. Even iPhoto does a reasonable job. But professional photographers and photo enthusiasts demand much more control than the basic applications can deliver. FotoMagico 4 delivers this control and takes the humble slideshow to a level worthy of the term professional.

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A Complete Overview Of The Display Layout

A Complete Overview Of The Display Layout

Features

  • Easy to learn and easy to use.
  • See changes immediately with real time rendering.
  • Access a wide variety of visual effects.
  • Add titles and picture-in-picture components.
  • Combine still photographs and videos for maximum impact.
  • Edit and compile in both Timeline and Storyboard layouts.
  • Use up to six layers and placeholders to ensure the overall design is easy for high quality bulk production work.
  • Show your project to the world with a complete set of export options.

Using FotoMagico 4

When you first launch the application you will be presented with a plethora of project options. These options allow you setup your project for specific screen types, styles and custom resolutions.

Unlike some applications, FotoMagico will allow you to change the project settings to suit a different requirements. This is especially handy if a client contacts you midway through the project and requests a format change. In most cases only minimal adjustments will be required, if any.

FotoMagico also has safe area visual guidelines for text, video and image placement. This guarantees content is within the assigned threshold and won’t be abruptly cut out of the frame.

The Screen Layout

Bonix, the developer of FotoMagico 4, has spent significant time in research and development to ensure the screen layout will suit most end users.

However, you are limited to the default screen layout. This may not appeal to those users who like to customize the window and tool layout of their applications.

Your media libraries and options are located in a hideaway column on the left hand side of the application, whilst the Storyboard and Timeline areas are tabulated at the bottom of the display.

The start and finish points, along with zoom and rotation options, for each slide are presented in the main window area. This area is also used for previewing your project.

The Content

When adding photographic content, you will be pleased to know that iPhoto, Aperture, Lightroom and your Pictures folder are all default options in the Media Browser, provided you have the associated applications installed. Should you use other folders, perhaps on external hard drives, you can also add them to the Library list by simply dragging them into the Media Browser. This same process can be applied to movie and audio clips.

The Media Browser Column

The Media Browser Column

Movies can be added to your project from iPhoto, iTunes or the Movies folder on your Mac, and audio can be imported directly from GarageBand or iTunes. The iLife Sound Effects folder is also available directly from within the Media Browser by default. It is also possible to record a narration from within the app. This feature is very useful but unfortunately, it is hidden in the Menu Bar. If I hadn’t been researching features, I would have likely missed this great asset.

At anytime you can preview audio clips from the Media Browser, prior to adding the clip into the Timeline or Storyboard. Movies and photographs are not able to be previewed within the application. Instead double clicking on the resource will take you to QuickTime X for movies, and Preview for photographs. This is a default option, but other applications on your Mac can be assigned from the application Preferences.

Any editing changes, done by third party applications, will be immediately updated. As a result, you will not need to add the media to the timeline again.

It is important to note that whilst most popular file formats are fully supported, some are not. Thankfully, this is less of an issue because you will be notified if you have inserted an unsupported file type. The application also gives you the option to convert the file format directly within the app if the file type is supported. The TIFF image format is not 100 percent compatible, for example, but the application can convert either the single image or all TIFF images for you to the JPEG format. This is a fantastic feature that allows you to work solely within the application.

Storyboard And Timeline

Storyboard will present each piece of media as a thumbnail sized icon. You will notice transitions are placed between slides, and the visible duration for slides, and transitions can be changed with ease.

Storyboard Mode

Storyboard Mode

The storyboard mode is the perfect solution if you are looking to quickly put together a basic slideshow. Audio clips can be added, in overlapping layers, and both options do allow for chapter creation to better deal with longer slideshows that consist of hundreds of media assets.

The Timeline is where FotoMagico 4 truly shines. You will have access to extremely precise controls that allow you to key the next slide perfectly with the audio.

If you can imagine a theme for an event, such as a wedding, that could have photographs, video, music in the background whilst still allowing the original audio from the wedding video to be heard, then you will likely understand the amazing power that FotoMagico 4 offers. 

Audio is presented as a graphical waveform and allows you to easily set fade in and out points. You can also adjust the overall volume of the audio clip by moving the yellow audio guide, directly within the waveform.

The timeline can also expand to show the different media types you have used. This is of vital importance when you are creating complex projects and templates. Whilst you can’t save a template in the traditional sense, you can set your design via a placeholder. This will enable you to lock certain aspects of design into your project, such as picture-in-picture elements.

The most important ability in either the Storyboard or Timeline, is being able to select a photograph, video, audio clip or transition, and immediately adjust associated settings via the Options Menu. You can set custom durations to a tenth of a second, as well as applying new transitions and modifying other basic aspects such as color correction and opacity levels to photographs and video. It is important to note that true photo editing can not be done within the application, but changing a color cast on the go is certainly useful.

A Selection Of Slide Options

A Selection Of Slide Options

When a photograph is in place, you can easily select the zoom and rotation settings from the preview window. This simplicity is truly appreciated and makes modifying the slideshow and appearance of media a breeze. Relocation of content on the display is also a simple affair. Simply click and drag around the canvas within the Preview window.

Even simpler is changing a photograph or video clip. Simply locate the most appropriate version from the media browser and drag and drop to replace the asset.

Export Options

The export options you are presented with will likely be more than enough for the majority of your needs. The selection includes a Standalone Player, YouTube, iPhone, iPad, AppleTV, DVD and Quicktime.

Export Options

Export Options

The standalone player is a fantastic idea. A simple app style icon is created that will launch the created slideshow. It is the perfect export option if you need to setup a kiosk or easy playback process for a presentation. You can even set how many times you would like to have it automatically played back. Unfortunately, there is no infinity option.

YouTube is essential in this type of app. Before uploading you can choose to make the video private. It would also be nice to have the ability to export to Vimeo, a competitor of YouTube.

Exporting to an iOS device and the AppleTV is a breeze. Set the device you are aiming for, along with the resolution and aspect ratio, and FotoMagico 4 will ensure the best possible compatibility and viewing experience.

Whilst the team at Apple may say some of us are living in the past, FotoMagico 4 thankfully allows the creation of DVD’s. If you have iDVD or Roxio’s Toast installed, your project will be exported and can be burned via these applications. You can also add other content and create a DVD menu through these external applications if you wish.

The final option will be the go to choice for many professionals. It is the QuickTime export. If you are used to exporting video using the QuickTime method, then you will feel right at home.

What I Did Like

Import and export options have been well thought out and will suit the majority of users.

The performance of the application is amazing with all content being rendered in real time. I experienced no slow down or performance problems with my late 2009 iMac.

Both Storyboard and Timeline options work seamlessly. They just feel right and using them is very intuitive.

What I Didn’t Like

The inability to change the layout of the application will not please some professionals who like to customize their display.

The cost for non-professional users is a little steep. It would be nice to see a slightly more affordable version that would only utilize the Storyboard mode.

Voice narration is available, but hidden away in the Menu Bar. A feature this useful should take prominent place on the main application window.

System Requirements

FotoMagico 4 requires OS X 10.7.4 "Lion" or later.  Boinx has notes for users with older Macs or certain types of video cards.

Summary

FotoMagico 4, is magical (pun intended). There is little doubt that this application is the most polished slideshow creation tool for the Mac.

If you’re a photographer, videographer or have a passion in showing off your photographs and video to family, friends and associates, then FotoMagico 4 is the application for you.

Although, all this functionally comes at a rather hefty cost of US$99.99. It is certainly worth the money for professionals who will easily make the outlay back in a single job. For the amateur user it may simply be a little too expensive. It would be nice to see a scaled down version at about half the price.

Overall, there are little to no complaints regarding FotoMagico 4. It performs as advertised and exceeds expectations.

Product: FotoMagico 4

Company: Boinx Software

List Price: US$99.99

Pros:

Easy to learn and use, a plethora of import and export options, stability and speed, real time rendering, Storyboard and Timeline both work seamlessly, up to six layers of content.

Cons:

No ability to change the layout of the applications main windows, cost is high for non-professionals, voice narrative functionality is hard to find.

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