FotoMagico 2.0 Pro

So many pictures, so few people willing to sit through your slideshows. That might change if you start using FotoMagico 2.0.1 Pro, a powerful yet easy-to-use slideshow authoring tool. Its intuitive interface and high level of motion, text, and audio control let you quickly create a viewing experience brimming with ambience and anticipation.

FotoMagico comes in two versions, Pro and Express. The Pro version (reviewed here) has all the features of the Express version and more, such as Aperture integration, the ability to export to HD movie format, and customizable export options.

Slideshows that move

FotoMagico supports the usual image file formats (JPEG, TIFF, PNG—anything that QuickTime can read—plus Raw). You begin by selecting a photo library or folder from the program’s Image/Audio Options panel. Choose to pull images from an iPhoto library, or just drag and drop images into FotoMagico’s iMovie-style interface from other applications or from an open folder in the Finder. With FotoMagico Pro, photographers can access Aperture libraries and apply watermarks to their images.

By default, FotoMagico applies a beautiful pan-and-zoom effect to photos, causing them to enter and exit the stage—the main work area—from alternating directions. Once a photo is on the stage, two clever dials provide precise control over its percentage of zoom and angle of rotation (great for straightening photos), both when the photo enters the stage (start position) and exits (finish position). Handy guides and a satisfying audible “snap” help you set precise photo positioning in both instances (and both can be toggled off in FotoMagico’s preferences). Use the Options button to tweak slide timing, duration, motion, and transitions for single or multiple photos.

You can include text on any slide with the Add Title button, and use the Options panel to adjust font, alignment, opacity, and motion.

A feast for eyes and ears

FotoMagico also works with iTunes, enabling you to easily add music to your slideshow. Peruse and preview your audio collection in the Image/Audio Options panel, then drag and drop a musical selection into the storyboard timeline where you want it to begin. Use the Options button to loop the audio, adjust its volume, or insert audio markers that can be linked to slide transitions.

You can add any audio file to your slideshow—however, thanks to DRM, any DRM (digital rights management)-protected music you’ve purchased from the iTunes Store won’t play in an exported slideshow movie. Unless you’ve personally ripped the song from a CD, or downloaded new DRM-free tracks from iTunes Plus, you’ll hear the sound of silence where the audio should be.

Export with ease

FotoMagico comes loaded with export presets for most viewing situations. You can export your slideshows to QuickTime or MP4 format for use on the Web; to iDVD, so you can include them in your DVD projects; to HD 720/1080 format, so you can watch them on your widescreen television; or even to your iPod. You can also export a slideshow into a stand-alone player application for sharing, complete with expiration date; once the date passes, you can’t see the show.

Because it renders images in real time, FotoMagico takes advantage of every last pixel—both in the photo and on the playback device—making images look their very best. The trade-off is a stiff hardware requirement; for optimal results you need at least a G5 or Intel Core Duo machine with 1GB of RAM and a graphics card with 128MB or more of VRAM. The motion of high-resolution JPEGs and Raw files was slightly jerky during playback on my MacBook Pro Core Duo (with 2GB of RAM).

Macworld’s buying advice

When it comes to showing off photos, FotoMagico 2.0.1 Pro is a photographer’s dream come true; and it’s packed with enough functionality to impress most presenters. I was disappointed with its poor performance with high-resolution images, however, and I look forward to seeing that resolved in the next version. If you create a lot of slideshows and need the ability to add text and audio, you’d be hard pressed to find a more elegant and easy-to-use program.

[ Lesa Snider King, founder of TheGraphicReporter.com, is a freelance writer, chief evangelist for iStockphoto.com, and graphics goddess o f David Pogue’s Missing Manuals (Pogue Press, O’Reilly). ]

The FotoMagico interface lets you access any photo from the Image/Options panel on the right and drag it into the storyboard below.You can tweak FotoMagico’s Title Opacity slider to create text that fades in or out.

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