Early 2008 has seen plenty of new software and online service introductions and upgrades. Here's a look at a few of the new photo-oriented programs and services that we think are cool and useful. Some offer better ways to do things we already do, some do brand-new tricks, and others simply make the programs that have already impressed us even more powerful.
This online photo show creator goes beyond typical slideshow-making software by automatically generating shows with advanced editing and effects; offering an intuitive, well-designed site interface; and providing simple tools for exporting videos to Web sites, blogs, and social networks. (Future additions will include tools for downloading videos, burning them to disc, and sending them to phones and other mobile devices.) To use Animoto, you open an account, upload a bunch of photos, select music or upload your own, and wait for the video to be created. If you don't like what Animoto comes up with the first time around, you can just hit Remix. Short 30-second videos are free and take about 10 minutes to be generated. Lengthier shows that can run as long as 10 minutes cost $3 apiece or $30 for a year of unlimited videos.
Apple Aperture 2
The latest version of Apple's photography workflow software for the Mac has a more flexible, streamlined interface, faster performance, and a new Quick Preview image browsing mode. It also now provides more fine-tuning options for RAW processing, DNG support, and improved metadata handling. Among its many new features are tools for recovering blown-out highlight details, selectively boosting saturation, and retouching image flaws. Apple has also improved the software's integration with other programs, added tools for syncing image libraries with an iPhone or iPod, and made it possible for users to create image galleries and upload them to the company's online .Mac Web Gallery site directly from Aperture. An added bonus: Aperture 2 comes with more than 50 tutorials too.
This software takes on the monumental task of managing all of your digital media -- including photos, of course -- under one umbrella. MediaImpression is made up of about 20 modules that perform different functions, and can be expanded with additional functions as ArcSoft makes more modules available. All of the modules are integrated into a single interface. The basic functions let you capture, import, browse, search, and organize media files. There are also tools for creating projects featuring photos, videos, and music, as well as sharing tools for exporting media and projects to Web sites. There's a module that integrates with Google Earth to let you geocode photos by dragging them onto a location, as well as movie- and slideshow-editing tools, photo-editing tools, and strong metadata support for adding IPTC data, ratings, and tags.
Available in Windows and Mac versions (although a few of the modules are not supported on a Mac).