CyberLink's MediaShow picks up where programs such as RealSlideshow and Astound have left off. The program, which works with Windows 95 or 98 and costs $US44.95, allows you to unify the components of your presentation into a single file that can be easily distributed.
The software is refreshingly straightforward and easy to use; while other programs offer only limited templates to guide the multimedia novice, MediaShow's Film Wizard automates the entire process of creating a slide show. Publication of a finished presentation requires little knowledge of HTML, scripting, plug-ins and browser compatibility, since the program does most of that work for you, too. Most importantly, the results are impressive. Our test presentation looked great in both Netscape Navigator 4 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.
Setting up the show
To add images to your presentation, a MediaShow wizard prompts you to import JPEGs, TIFFs and files saved in other graphical formats individually or in groups (surprisingly, MediaShow does not support GIFs). MediaShow also lets you import (capture) images from a TWAIN-compliant device such as a digital camera or scanner; we were able to do so without incidence. MediaShow accepts AVI and MPEG video, as well as .mov files. Note, however, that video won't play back if you decide to run your presentation as a streaming slide show on the Web.
Sequencing slides to your liking is as simple as dragging and dropping the thumbnail images into place on the interface's time line. When you're ready to add background music to your presentation, you can use .wav, .mp3 and .mid files, or CD tracks. You can even add foreground sound effects to individual slides (MP3s won't work with this feature).
MediaShow offers no tools for image editing; for those, you'll have to turn to a program like Adobe Photoshop before importing your graphics. The program does offer some sophisticated visual effects - such as frame transitions, masks and animated captions - to lend your presentation flair, but these effects cannot be customised. For example, the masking effect provides little control over how the mask is rendered over the image. You can move the image around with a cursor and zoom in and out, but the mask looks the way it should only when the images are horizontal. You can change fonts and text colour, and you can align text left, right or centre, but only within a small area confined to the middle of the image.
Despite its constraints, MediaShow is worth its price: the program is easy to use, and it produces well-tuned, slick presentations. MediaShow can make even a relative beginner feel like a pro.
URL: www.cyberlink.com.tw; www.buyonet.com