If you were lucky enough to get a shiny new digital still camera or video camera from Santa this Christmas, you're going to need some fancy software on your PC to make the most of your photos and movies. Is Roxio's latest A/V suite able to cut the mustard?
As an all-round package, Easy Media Creator 8 is an excellent offering. While the individual elements are never going to be as strong as the semi-professional or professional software out there, such as Adobe's Premiere or Photoshop, with Roxio's offering, you're only going to have to cough up about £60 for the lot, as opposed to hundreds of quid for each component.
So what can you do with all the shiny stuff you get with Creator 8? Well, the quick answer is pretty much anything that you care to put your mind to. Fire-up the software and you're presented with a homepage of sorts, with direct links to all the tools in the package. These are labelled clearly and simply: Audio, Backup, Copy, Data, DVD and Video, Organize, Photo and Tools.
The interesting thing is that each of these shortcuts take you through to cut-down versions of the applications, giving you fast and simple access to the most frequently-used aspects of the tools. If you want to dive a little deeper into the individual features, you can fire-up the full versions and take full control over all aspects of your projects.
While there are useful tools such as the cleaner that allows you to tidy up the pops and crackles from analogue audio recordings (if you transfer your vinyl or cassettes onto your hard disk), the main focus of the package is on the photo-editing, music and DVD-authoring applications.
The photo editor comes in two flavours: Pocket Photo Editor which allows you to make basic adjustments to any image in any of your ongoing projects, or the more fully-featured PhotoSuite which puts a set of much more powerful tools at your disposal. Pocket Photo Editor will suffice more often than not if all you want to do is correct flaws such as red eye or exposure issues in your digital snaps. Once you're happy with the results, you can put together slideshows of your photos, complete with musical backing tracks, and a variety of transition styles, before rendering them out as video files.
The music suite gives you the freedom to burn your music collection onto a variety of Disk formats, including CD, MP3 and DVD Audio. It's a simple drag-and-drop affair, which gets the job done admirably quickly.
The DVD-authoring tools are equally straightforward: choose your source files, edit them using the capable, timeline-based editor included, drag your completed clips into a DVD template and hit the "burn" button.
Overall, Easy Media Creator 8 is an accomplished package that offers a very well-rounded set of tools to the A/V consumer who doesn't have the budget, or indeed the need, to shell out for top-end software.
One note of caution: there have been reports of crashes on some PCs. There is a patch out that updates the software from version 1.0 to 1.05, but if you are worried about stability, you might want to wait until Roxio release the 1.1 or even 1.2 patch. Other than that, this is a very good buy.