Category: disc

Day-of-Release: Ashampoo Slideshow Studio HD 4.0

Day-of-Release: Ashampoo Slideshow Studio HD 4.0

Two generations ago, family and friends might gather around a projector screen, with a slide projector with a slide rotary caddy. They would take these opportunities to recap trips they went on, things they saw, and people they experienced the events with. As been the subject of numerous parodies and skits, people have been subjected to seeing the same scene, over and over again, with off-handed quotes. You typically hear such things as “Here is Gene, on the right!” Now he is on the left!” “You remember the heat that day, Gene?” What do you think, Barbra?” The purpose of these gatherings was to track and chart the milestones of people’s life.

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Today, the technology is different, but the purpose has carried on into day, with computers, mobile device cameras, optical media (DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K-UHD) and streaming video being the media that these memories are recorded onto for preservation. The scope has been expanded to now encompass the avenues of commerce, education, entertainment, and journalism, in addition to the personal recordings of yesteryear. The learning curve of these software programs has varied over the years, coupled with the available feature sets that they each offer. If you get an easy-to-use program, the features might be limited. If you choose a more full-featured program, you tend to find yourself facing a less-friendly GUI/UX that is much less intuitive and systematic.

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I am glad to report to you, today, that a new, more powerful, and full-featured program has debuted today, from those fine folks at Ashampoo, entitled Slideshow Studio HD 4.0. This great program fully carries forward the fine, long-standing tradition that Ashampoo has come to represent; demonstrated by the craftsmanship you find in this and all of their programs. Not only does have the standard functions you would expect from a slideshow program, but the forward-looking embrace 4K Ultra-High-Definition video standard that is bursting on the scene.scr_ashampoo_slideshowstudio_hd4_simplemode_adapt_to_music

This promises of up to 8x the resolution of 1080P video, with support for High-Dynamic Range (HDR) for extreme life-like imagery and natural shadows, mid-range tones, and highlights. As Hollywood has begun taking this file format as the go-to choice for how they capture our blockbusters, and present them to us for home theater consumption, not many home enthusiasts programs offer this functionality, but Slideshow Studio HD 4.0 comes through for you, in this regard.

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Not only does this software program that has these feature-set, included, but it also introduces the addition of 17 new transition effects, not available in prior versions. If the included transitions and effects that come bundled with the program do not meet all of your needs, post-launch, additional templates will be made available, free of charge from their website. I can attest that having an online depository for specialized templates has been a lifesaver, on several occasions, with other software; I am very looking forward to have this resource for this program available to me and to you, my faithful readers.

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As a faithful user of iOS devices for seven years or so, I need tools and software that allows me to enjoy my media and share it with those in my circle, on these devices. While I have yet to make a mobile-enabled slideshow, with Slideshow Studio HD 4.0, has specialized output settings for these devices, so you have full confidence that your final project will work on these devices, with minimal hassle and problems. For those of you that use Android or other operating systems on your mobile devices, they have output device profiles for those pieces of equipment.

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As you may recall my wife has a home-based art business, and she has branched into tutorials and training videos, in addition to her artwork for sale. She has done videos on Periscope, and uploaded some basic time-elapsed videos of her paintings, but having this tool in her arsenal will allow her to create more polished and professional videos in this vein. I can see that she might very well start laying a narration track over her work, and better explain her creative process to help budding artist reach their potential. I can see that the software’s support of this feature will help her obtain her goal for this purpose.

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Right now, if you purchase this program on the launch day or soon after (which is today, July, 11, 2016), you can have this program for 50% off its regular price of $39.99 USD for a Single-User License. This is a nice savings, and will allow you to become a paying customer for Ashampoo’s products, and might entitle you to future upgrades and discounts on this program, as well as the other members of their product family line. In my opinion, this is well worth the money for such a powerful and versatile program that can be used for personal and professional projects, alike. If you need this program for multi-user environments or for business purposes, you can contact them for a price quote, directly. If you still are not convinced that this is for you, you can use their trial version, and test it out for yourself. As always, keep on techin’!

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MovieManager 3.3 Pro Review

MovieManager 3.3 Pro Review

Anyone who reads my blog, with any regularity, will know of my fever pitch love of cinema. I have an extensive collection of movies and television series (many which I inherited from my late parents), and I need to keep accurate count of what I own. I have tried several products, and I am always trying to find alternatives (for you, my readership), which gives you more choices to pick from the field.

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Recently, I discovered a new player in the film catalog software front, coming from RockSolidSoftware, titled simply, MovieManager Pro. This program allows you to cross-link your movies/discs, by several categories, including movie, series, episode, and parent-child, etc. These breakdowns allow you to not only add films, by these criteria, but you can also see which actors appear in each entertainment product in your collection. The menu structure is very reminiscent of a standard Microsoft Windows Visual Basic window, so it usage is very intuitive to any user, so you can jump in, and start logging your films, right away.

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As someone, who has a sizable collection, I have always has difficulty in tracking my television series episodes, across discs, box-sets, and digital video files. In other catalog software, I have to add each individual season, rather than an umbrella listing, that nests each season underneath the main listing. In having to do this multi-listing, rather than a single entry, it creates excessive entries that can balloon the database size. Large drive sizes make this a moot point, but it does slow down the indexing/searching of your collection.

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If you do not like to manually add the entry details, you can just place the title (and season, if applicable), and download the details, via the IMDB website or from one of their referrer code. This is vastly quicker than to have to manually type out the details and summaries for yourself. If you cannot find the info for a title from mainstream sources, being able like more eccentric titles (maybe out-of-print, obscure documentaries), finding a website that lays out the particulars, and can be parsed into the database software is a sweet time-saver. Many of a time I have had to create artwork, and sorting details, manually, and found myself frustrated and tired, so knowing that MovieManager Pro can take over the task is a breath of fresh air.

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If you have movie/video files stored on your hard drive, you can save/import those files into the software, and create a collection database, with playback capability. I have quite a few digital movies and TV show episodes on my computer, and not having to track down the discs they came on for the particulars, nor their artwork, is very nice. I want to keep track of my digital films and shows, in addition to my physical copies in one database, so I can have an at a glance look of my entire holdings. That way I do not double down, needlessly, on my purchases, and can spread my limited dollars in my media purchases. This is a feature that will only grow, as things move more into the digital realm; as such a feature that you will want to have available to you, too.

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I could drone on as to why you want to get the full version of MovieManager Pro, but you will be very hard pressed to find a better program that does all of this for $9.95 USD. At this juncture, the Pro version includes lifetime updates for this price, so I would take advantage of this now, lest it changes later. Also your purchase of this software will give your priority support, with prompt follow-ups, via e-mail. I can attest to the fact that I have had some technical problems, and they have gotten back with me, ASAP. Try out the MovieManager Pro program, and I know that you will add this tool to your media collection management tool-set. Talk to you soon . . .

Ashampoo Burning Studio 16 Review

You, my avid readers, know that I am still in full support of disc media, particularly high-capacity and archive formats. The newer players, such as Ultra 4K Blu-ray for HDR video, and the new storage archive format, M-DISC, hold many promises for high quality and long-term preservation. While the ability to create the super high-capacity, 4K video discs is a ways off, the routine of making HQ DVD and BD-R discs still requires top-tier creation and production software.  In answering this call, the fine folks at Ashampoo have taken the best of the field, and created the best, feature-rich disc burning suite on the market, today.

 

In the last twenty years, burning software had come and gone, with formats, audio tools, and disc structures, moving in and out of vogue. Learning from the ups and downs of these changes, and bringing their own innovation into the mix, Ashampoo’s Burning Studio 16 icon_burning_studio_16_256x256takes their policy of intuitive GUI development, and their sense of features their customer’s deserve; publishing the new standard of disc creation to be beat. They have incorporated the ability to create multi-volume disc archives, without fear of corrupted backups, discs that support AutoStart menus (as seen on commercial pressed discs, put out by major publishers), and the ability to import and embed subtitles and themes for your video disc projects, among others. These are just a few of the tools in the toolbox, with many, more at easy reach.logo_w10_comp_blue

I am the first to concede that freeware burning software can be found on the web, and many of these programs I have used. However, they have always felt lacking in tools, which would allow me the nuanced and customized projects that I have always wanted to make. Fortunately, I discovered Burning Studio 16, and I have not looked back. In discovering the ability to pull metadata tags for my audio files, so I can include this polished feature, along with sound normalization, makes making custom mixes for friends and family; excellent for gift giving. I also love the ability to create slideshow discs, which my wife can use to share her artwork and projects, in both promoting her work, and bringing awareness for children’s illustration. These, are just two slivers of the numerous features that this suite contains.

scr_ashampoo_burning_studio_16_welcomebox_ashampoo_burning_studio_16_110x110If you do not have such a narrow-focused outlook, you will find that Ashampoo has you covered. For the bulk of my disabled audience, you will find that their burning software will make solid, reliable discs. If you have come to embrace the clean UI, present in Canonical Ubuntu, Microsoft Windows 8/8.1/1, and Apple Mac OS X, the ability jump right in making your discs will come very naturally. You are presented with a clean window, which has categories/tools on the left, with sub-category pop-ups on the right. Each option is very easy to comprehend, follow systematically, and implement without hassle. As someone, who has severe arthritis, being able to make discs with minimal steps, via Burning Studio 16, makes the whole process worthwhile.scr_ashampoo_burning_studio_16_presentation_skin

 

I could bombard you with the bursting at the seams feature sets, but I will cut to the chase. Right now, you can purchase Burning Studio 16 for $59.99 USD. If you are already an Ashampoo customer, the cost is $29.99 USD. If you have owned a prior version, the upgrade is $17.99 USD. If you are still unsure if you need the full suite features, they have a free version, which will give you a taste of what the program can do for you. Of note, within the next day, they have a software bundle, that includes several pieces of software (Burning Studio 16 is not included, but it is a good value of other tools), for $31.99 USD. Check out their homepage, and you might want to jump on this sale. No matter what you choose on this time-limited deal, I know that you want to get Burning Studio 16 for all of your disc creation projects, going forward. Until next time, stay warm/stay dry. . .

AudioLabel 6.0 Review

It has become a twilight era for disc-base media, but such media is still needed for large file-size projects such as the upcoming UHD video (4K Video) and for the foreseeable future, console games will still be available on discs. Be that as it may, identifying and marking such media is vital, and graphic design has only been growing since the mid-1990’s decade. One sector of the marketplace that is still growing is the burgeoning area of personal media creation and disc production. While major O/S’s ship with basic video editing tools, such as Windows DVD Creator, their ability to create nice, clean labels for discs and storage cases is very lacking. You can try and use Windows Paint or a software plugin for the office suite, but the results will be less than stellar or hard to format for the end product. A nice, clean saving grace for this pipeline development problem comes in the form of AudioLabel from CDCoverSoft.

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This excellent software presents itself with a clean, GUI; instantly familiar to anyone who has used any Windows-based program. Once you open the program, you have a screen layout that combines the best of Windows Paint and GIMP. You have text panel on the left side, color swatches and buttons, up top, and an image browser (akin to a slideshow/clip art strip) on the right side of the screen. From here, you can setup your disc, layout the case inserts, and finalize the project. The process is straight forward, easy to use, and very intuitive. It is as easy as that, to do.

When you go to undertake making an insert for your projects, as a custom replacement for a commercial disc, or if you have submitted metadata to the software, AudioLabel has you covered. This great tool can both retrieve a disc’s metadata from the web or by reading the CD-TEXT off of the disc. The creator of a disc could also go the trouble of \having it listed in Internet databases (though there could be added charges and licensing agreements to undertake). Being able to just drop your disc in the optical drive, read the info, and populate your labels can quickly speed up making labels. My regular readers know how I love software to aid me in adding tag data to my files, rather than depending on manual insert. I have been a huge proponent of putting CD-TEXT on any recorded discs since the late 1990’s, and it is nice to know that AudioLabel has my back and yours too!

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I have always used various paper stocks for my printing projects, and my labels are no exception. Whether cost, product availability, texture, and the like, having the flexibility to have a graphic layout program accommodate these variances is a big plus. Baked into this great program are templates for the top major brands of label manufactures, so choosing the right one is at your fingertips, and ready to put into place. Going from an Avery label to a Neato format works, flawlessly, and helps me get done anything, in a quick fashion.

 

While printing on discs is a new phenomena that has come to the forefront of media print technology, spearheaded by HP with its LightScribe technology. New players have come forward since HP hit the scene, including Canon, EPSON, and others, nevertheless, AudioLabel has you covered. Using an inkjet-capable disc, and a supported printer, you can print your layout right on the disc, without needing a separate label or paper. As is noted on their website, using an inkjet-capable disc does cost more; I can attest that the results are far superior to any label that I have used, for durability and longevity. In fact, the results are even crisper, when dealing with grayscale images, which can be accented by being etched on the top surface, such as seen in LightScribe discs that I have burned. Also, they are not susceptible to having a label peel off in one’s optical drive.

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No matter what projects you may have to make discs for, AudioLabel is the easiest way to complete things done. If you are unsure, they have a 15-day limited trial that allows you try out the software, and print some samples. After that time period passes, $29.95 USD will give you the full version that will not have any time or printing restrictions. Check out this software, and you will see that making labels and inserts will not get any easier than this. I hope you love this software, as much as I. Until next time, folks!