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Boinx Software's Fotomagico 2.5 - slide show software for the Mac
You can make a professional level slide show on your Apple computer, and its made easy with Fotomagico
By Robert Jensen

If you own a Mac computer then you may not be aware of this but you can easily take your photos and put together an amazingly professional quality slideshow, complete with music and special effects, and all you need is an inexpensive program to do it. Boinx Software's Fotomagico. Its as easy as making a batch of cookies and takes about as long, even if its your first time using the program.

At $49 US ($129 US for the Pro version) you can't go wrong with Fotomagico. Its a Universal Binary package, which with some programs means it runs slower than it could on newer Intel based Macs, but you wouldn't know it by how fast Fotomagico runs on my new 24-inch iMac. How fast? FAST! If your Mac is older you are going to notice some slowdowns but using Fotomagico with any Mac that's capable of running OS-X Tiger or newer should be fine. The minimum is a Mac with an 800Mhz G4 processor and 512MB of RAM.

Don't take my word for it, a trial version is available for download here - So what do you have to lose? Download it.

Are you back? Good, lets get on with this review then.

First off Boinx Software updated Fotomagico in July 2008, to version 2.5 adding support for exporting to YouTube compatible video, also importing iLife Sound Effects and GarageBand songs. The 2.5 Pro version adds support for Adobe Lightroom image libraries as well as a teleprompter.

Fotomagico's interface is fairly straightforward and consists of three areas, a main preview panel, below that a long panel showing your selected images and soundtrack. Just above and to the left side of that panel are three icons to add a blank frame, text and toggle Pan and Zoom on or off. The panel on the right side of the screen is changeable by clicking on one of the three icons below it. You can select from 'Images' where you select the images you want to import; 'Audio' where you select your soundtrack; and 'Options' where you can adjust the slide's Tint/Saturation/Gamma, turn Pan & Zoom on and off, set if you want to continue to the next slide, and wait for a mouse click before continuing. You can also edit transitions (the duration and type of effect (fade) from one slide to the next). There are three basic categories of transitions - 2D (such as fade/dissolve/wipe/etc) - 3D (such as cube and topple) and Effects (such as lens aperture blades closing and opening). Under the Audio section you can toggle the track looping (going back to the beginning of the audio track) audio and add markers to the audio track to signal the next slide. Finally you can and add/edit titles and animate them and add teleprompter notes for when you're doing an interactive presentation in front of an audience.

In use
First off you're going to go to that right side panel, or use Finder, and select the slides you want to import into your slideshow. Just click and drag individual files, a selection, an entire filer or an iPhoto/Lightroom/Aperture Album into the bottom panel. Fotomagico will automatically set the duration to 5 seconds and Pan & Zoom as the effect.

Once you have your images imported you can click and drag them to the order you want, do some basic editing of the color balance to match images taken at different times, alter the time the slide is on the screen as well as the duration of the transition and type of effect used between slides. You'll find this a little easier to judge once you've added your soundtrack so I suggest you add that beforehand.

Adding a soundtrack is just as easy as adding photos, just click and drag almost any song you own, except for Digitally Rights Managed (copyright protected) songs. You can even import your own compositions from GarageBand if you like.

Editing: Whenever you select an image its shown in the large main panel as two copies, the one on the left is labeled 'Start' and the right 'Finish'. Below that are two graphic thumbwheels, one for Zoom and one for Rotation. You can zoom, rotate and drag your image around to where you want it to start in your animation, then do the same for where you want it to end up in the Finish window. You can click one of two play buttons to preview the effect either in the window (clear play button) or full screen (black play button). There are also buttons to jump to the beginning or end of the presentation. TIP: Even though Fotomagico supports RAW files, using them slows things down.  So convert to JPG first, then import.

Exporting: Once you have your slideshow finished you can export it as a stand alone player application (which also protects your images from being copied). You can set the authorization to freely play forever, only a certain number of times or until a date of your choosing.  You can export to a DVD, make a webpage using the provided themes, convert to iPod/iPhone/AppleTV, high definition TV using the H.264 codec to produce 720P or 1080P (pro version) Quicktime videos, and YouTube compatible video, or an OS-X screensaver. Fotomagico automatically checks for mistakes when you export which will keep your output looking its best.

Final Thoughts
Even if you simply grab a bunch of images and some music and drop them into Fotomagico, the program will produce a decent looking presentation.  It is very easy to figure out how to use, which is a good thing since there's no instruction book so to speak. Some other features I appreciated were support for ICC color profiles. This is essential if you are importing a mix of images shot in RGB, Adobe RGB or other colorspaces.

TIP: Try this trick to combine transition effects.

1- Copy and Paste an image to duplicate it.
2- Do your transition effect with the first image.
3- Go to your duplicate image and in the left (Start) pane adjust the image to exactly match the right (Finish) pane of your first image. 
4- Back to the second image, now zoom and move the image to your tastes.
5- Click on the yellow transition effect icon (the little yellow square located between the thumbnails) and change it to 'Cut'.  6- Now go to the first slide, hit the play button and you'll have created a slide with two effects.  You could make a third, forth, etc. copy and do things like have the image bounce around the screen, something that's not possible with a single effect.

Here is where we come to some of the shortcomings I found in Fotomagico compared to similar software I've reviewed for the PC . The minimum time you can select for duration of the slide on screen or the transition effect is one second and that makes is very difficult to precisely match your images to a music soundtrack or create a sequence of fast changing images, both of which I could do with the PC software mentioned. Since Fotomagico also lacks the capability to show a graphical representation of the music, its extremely hard to match the start of a new image to a beat in the song. Yes, you can add a time marker in Fotomagico, but its a much more difficult method over having a graphical reference that you can drag your timings/transtitions to.

With those exceptions I'm very impressed with the program's ease of use.  As I mentioned, anyone can make a great looking slide presentation in a few minutes and then export to a number of popular file types.

Caption: I made this movie in 20 minutes, and that was using Fotomagico for the first time!




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Robert Jensen has spent most of his 55 years in photography, from the age of 11 when he got his first camera (a Kodak Instamatic) to the present, shooting professionally. From 1971 to 1997 he worked in retail selling photographic equipment to people of all skill levels. For most of that period he was also a manager.

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