I have used just about every slide show program on the market (except those that are Windows only since I don’t have a Windows machine.)
My current favorite stand alone slide show product is FotoMagico from Boinx Software. It is a Mac-only product and costs a one-time fee of $139.99 – ($99 upgrade from 3.0.) On the Windows side, most of my PC friends use ProShow Gold 5 which costs a one-time fee of 69.95.
I have also used several online solutions like Animoto, Fixtime, StuperFix, etc.
I have been looking at the economy, the contraction in many online services, the changes in management, policies, Copyright issues, etc., and come to a conclusion. I want to create and host my own slide shows.
The online slideshow programs are widely available. The cost is for anywhere from free to several hundred dollars a year on a subscription basis. To get the kind of functionality and flexibility you’d get from FotoMagico, you’d have to pay Animoto almost twice as much as it costs to own FotoMagico and you’d have to pay it every year. (Not picking on Animoto – that just happens to be the one I am most familiar with.)
There are big advantages to the online services like Animoto. They are fast, fun, super easy, and look great. The quick-jump-edit style of many Animoto slide shows is hard to duplicate unless you are a professional video editor. You can deliver DVDs to clients made directly from Animoto files and clients seem to love them.
But there are disadvantages too. Companies like Animoto promote the fact that no two slide shows are alike. What if you create a killer slide show and the client asks for you to do the same thing on another project? You can’t. It may be similar but it won’t be the same. And you can’t make individual changes to these online slide shows without starting over. When you do start over you get a whole new show. If you don’t pay for the service you can’t even be sure that the shows will remain online. The company could go away, or change its policies or business models etc. Then you’re stuck. You have to pay to get a logo-free version of the slide show as well.
Any number of online businesses have gone bankrupt, changed their focus, changed their pricing unexpectedly, etc. What if all your images or slide shows are stuck at one of these places?
Another problem with online slideshows is you are limited to their themes and backgrounds. You are limited to their standard sizes as well. If you want something different you are out of luck.
If you use your own program, one that sits on your hard disk, you can make all the changes you want – use the themes you want – duplicate those exact changes in other shows and have the files sitting safely on your computer – even if the company goes out of business the software still works and you have complete control. You don’t have to worry nearly as much about Copyright infringement nor do you have to worry about giving up precise control. You are in charge of your own destiny.
I have decided that I want complete control of my images and my slide shows. So I have switched to FotoMagico. One of the reasons I have switched to is that in the new version 4, you can change the slide position by hand so that it lands on the downbeat of the music. You can also insert picture in picture or video. You can use any background or theme you like. Etc.
When it comes to sharing your videos you have lots of options. You can host for free on sites such as WordPress.com using link to Vimeo or YouTube as a source or you can purchase the very affordable WordPress plugin (a few bucks) to play video directly on your WordPress blog.
Here’s an example of the FotoMagico slide show hosted on WP.com.
Sharing isn’t hard. FotoMagico has a host of pre-formatted sharing options (see graphic below.) You can also burn DVDs and share that way.
If you host your own stuff you have complete control.
While I have used and love sites like Animoto, the advancements in the stand alone programs like FotoMagico have me rethinking my whole opinion about the various online services.
I’m going to start making all my slide shows with the new version of FotoMagico. I made this test car slide show using the BETA product in less than 10 minutes. (It’s the same video I shared above via the WP plugin.) I like the result and with practice, i.e., one or two more shows under my belt, I should be able to make slide shows that wow the crowd every time without having to pay an ongoing fee.