Recently, here at Photofocus, we’ve been introduced to the AH-mazing world of SongFreedom.com. A website that helps you license awesome music by artists you’ve actually heard without busting your budget AND while still respecting artist copyrights. What a concept!
Can’t I Use Any Music?
As photographers, we should all be respectful of our creative brothers and sisters in the music industry. Just as we don’t want people ripping our photos off, we shouldn’t be ripping songs off. Historically, popular and high quality music has been too cost prohibitive to deal with, so I’m truly excited to have been introduced to SongFreedom. It’s going to take my photo and video wedding deliverables to a whole new level.
Slideshows Don’t Have to Be Boring
Another area that’s been low (on my radar at least) is slideshows. I used to give the concept a good eye roll. (Nothing like a little cheese with that wine!) But I realized I was thinking of old school slideshows. Ones where the transitions bored you to tears and the “muzak” had you grabbing ear plugs.
Well, if SongFreedom lets me have awesome music, what about a tool that helps me build awesome slideshows? And not one that I need to be a pro level video editor to author. Enter Photodex! A partner of SongFreedom, Photodex offers three versions of ProShow, their slideshow software. One for at home/hobbyist use (ProShow Gold), one for pro desktop use (ProShow Producer), and another for web use (ProShowWeb).
Taking it to the Cloud
Being a fan of cloud based things, I decided to give the web use a whirl and found it to be very straightforward and simple. The user interface was clean and basic. Create a project, name it, add photos and boom! You’re halfway there. I chose to add photos that I had exported from Aperture (Shh! Yes, I’m transitioning to Lightroom soon and I’ll blog all about it.) however, you can import photos from just about anywhere.
After I had the photos uploaded, ProShow had an extensive library of transitions and effects to choose from. Each transition and effect listed has a thumbnail and a play button so you can preview what the movement looks like. I found that incredibly useful as I don’t know video terms quite like the back of my hand yet!
The transitions are pretty self explanatory and move you from one image to the next. The effects are what control HOW the image is displayed. Maybe it pans right or left, maybe it zooms in, maybe it mirrors or does all sorts of funky 3D stuff.
It seems like you have a myriad of options. On my first pass through, I forgot to name any effects. I remembered right after I hit the button to process. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the software just added a bunch by default. Guess what? The majority of the effects worked great! There were a few I needed to tweak, but it was a bit of a happy (and time saving) accident that I discovered letting ProShow just automate the process.
Within the web editor there is a link to add music which takes you to a music library with some okay stuff in it. Better yet, it also allows you to upload a file from your computer.
This utopian land of music is organized brilliantly. They make it easy to search by genre, popularity, artist, etc. They have an awesome search feature that allows you to “search for songs like __________” as well as a great search engine that generates suggestions based on pieces that are similar to what you’re already looking at. You can even search by what type of use you need (such as weddings, sports, boudoir, etc.).
However you choose to do it, I was thoroughly impressed with how straightforward SongFreedom was. All the information on pricing and licensing was clear and concise. Their FAQ’s were among the most informative I’ve seen in a while and easily directed me to the proper license I needed for my project.
Adding Music & Finishing
Having already perused through the SongFreedom library, purchased, and downloaded a song that inspired me, all I had to do was upload it. By default, the ProShow software figures out the timing of the photos and the music for me!! Hooray!! It took a minute or two but shortly after pressing the button to create my show, it appeared. As I stated earlier, there were a few transitions I wanted to tweak, but the software allows you to easily go back in, tweak to your heart’s content, then regenerate the show.
Once you’re satisfied, you can export your show to a multitude of different formats. SD, HD, DVD, you name it! The software handles compressing the files into the proper codecs for the use you need. Which, if you’ve ever spent time using pro editing software, can be a nightmare, so I was thoroughly impressed to see such ease of use. After I made my selection, the software processed the file and notified me when it was ready to download. Easy peasy.
This whole process has sparked my thought process on how I can make this a valuable add on to my workflow. Perhaps I’ll make it an add on product? Maybe I’ll make it a thank you to my clients as a surprise? Maybe I’ll work it into my public image on my blog posts? Or package for other vendors I worked with as a thank you (showing off their work and mine)? The possibilities are endless to me and I suggest they may also be for you and your business. After all, with a process this simple, easy, and affordable, why not?
So go ahead and check out the final product here!