capsule review

SmartSound Movie Maestro

At a Glance
  • Sonic Desktop Software SmartSound Movie Maestro

    Macworld Rating

A musical score can enhance any movie's impact, whether it's a video of your daughter's soccer game or your first documentary. With its foolproof interface and a host of compatible music, Sonic Desktop Software's SmartSound Movie Maestro can help you add the score that best suits your film.

Beautiful Scores Done with Ease

Using Movie Maestro to score a QuickTime-compatible movie or movie segment is about as hassle-free as it gets. After launching Movie Maestro, you simply feed it video by selecting your movie file from within the program. You then use Movie Maestro's timeline to choose the portion you want to score (the default is the entire movie), click on the Movie Maestro window's Add Music button, and follow a three-step wizard that lets you choose a category, style, and track. Movie Maestro will make the soundtrack fit your selected video, within half a second of its length. Once you have the score in place, you can adjust its length, fade in and out, and more. Then you can export the music-enhanced movie to videotape, video CD, DVD, or back to a QuickTime Movie file.

Movie Maestro includes a collection of 26 tracks you can use in your movies. The only problem here is that Movie Maestro doesn't offer a facility for importing your own scores, so your choices are limited to what's included in the program and the six add-on libraries, each of which contains ten scores and costs $30. Considering that the basic product costs $50, these additional libraries are relatively expensive. Fortunately, the collections, which offer New Age, easy-listening, orchestral, rock, and world styles, will likely satisfy most users. (All the music is royalty-free for noncommercial use.)

Even though Movie Maestro is a cross-platform product, it takes especially good care of Mac users by including options that let you save your score directly into an iMovie project and add your score to iPhoto slide shows, using iPhoto's Music pop-up menu.

One to Grow On

If you outgrow Movie Maestro, you can upgrade to its older sibling, SmartSound Sonicfire Pro ($349), which offers more-advanced capabilities. For example, it lets you create tracks of a specific length and includes complete support for manipulating audio imported from many additional formats, including DV. Libraries and palettes compatible with Movie Maestro will also work with Sonicfire Pro, so you won't have to re-create your music library from scratch.

Macworld's Buying Advice

SmartSound Movie Maestro does what it promises: it creates professional-sounding scores for your videos and requires little effort on your part. Its interface is clean and elementary, so anyone can use it. Movie Maestro's only downside is that it restricts you to SmartSound's soundtracks.

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Intuitive interface
    • Easy to use
    • Good variety of included music

    Cons

    • ┬áProvides no way to import or create your own music libraries
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