The latest iteration of Sonic Solution's Roxio multimedia software, Easy Media Creator Suite 10 has more features than you can shake a stick at. It purportedly can do everything from burning a DVD of shows recorded on your TiVo, to recommending music in your library based upon what songs you like at that moment, to helping crop photos so that they look just right on your mobile phone. For the record, it can also, apparently, do everything in between. As with all software however, some of these features work better than others.
The suite's main menu breaks down all the various odds and ends into eight main items in order to make navigation more simple, which is a huge help as there is a ton of material contained in the software. Even so however, reading the manual that accompanies the program is absolutely essential, as “MyDVD” creates DVDs in a different way than “VideoWave” or “CineMagic” and invariably one program will lead you directly into another as your project progresses. It is, to put it simply, quite confusing at first and very easily overwhelming. Until one truly gets the hang out how the video programs work every task is daunting.
Once things become clear however, after a few hours of study and some dreadful mistakes, creating a video project becomes, if not a snap, eminently do-able and users will be able to go from “CineMagic” (your basic video “wizard”) to “VideoWave” (which gives you a much more detailed look at the videos timeline and progression) to “MyDVD” (where the whole thing is finalized with pretty menus and chapters) with ease. The video software allows editing on a timeline and can include up to 32 tracks. That seems like overkill for the program, most people editing home videos will not use more than three or four, but it could hypothetically come in handy for more complicated projects.
One of the best things about video creation in EMC10 is the suite's ability to randomize and easily insert music into videos and slideshows using pre-selected genres and music that comes with the suite. Additionally, if one is creating a slideshow, the program can be set to randomly choose between dissolves, wipes, fades, and all manner of cuts between photos. Creating a wonderful looking slideshow for a birthday, anniversary, or other special event can be done with great ease by the most inexperienced of users. The one problem with the creation of a slideshow (or any video) is that if the files reside in different directories on your computer the files from one directory have to be selected and okayed before going back and adding more files from another directory. This makes the process somewhat more cumbersome than it ought to be.
Roxio's “Photosuite,” which is made for organizing and editing digital photographs is also easy in this updated version of EMC10. Added to the program for this iteration is the ability to “autofix” one's digital photographs. Essentially, this means that after selecting a photo to edit one can click the “AutoFix” button and have the exposure, saturation, and sharpness all adjusted automatically based upon what the program perceives to be the best choices (if one doesn't like the result the “reset” button is easy to spot). “Photosuite” also allows for the look of a photograph to be changed manually, as well as the edition of special effects, the elimination of redeye, and cropping of the photograph.
While all these features are nice, if multiple photographs are opened and available for editing at a single time, the program will not remember from one picture to the next what crop (or other) settings were used. Thus, if one is cropping 100 photographs to 4×6 size, it is necessary in the crop tool to change the shape to rectangle, the size to 4×6, and select landscape or portrait (default is portrait) every single time. This becomes an incredibly tedious process when one is working with multiple photos.
The suite of audio programs included with Easy Media Creator 10, while generally useful, lacks the panache and ease of iTunes. It should be noted that the interface for the audio programs, most notably selecting audio files to add to playlists and CDs is far more simple than selecting video files and photographs. Selecting audio files for CDs does not have the same issue with taking songs from multiple folders that exists for photos and videos (oddly though, the problem resurfaces when having the program “AutoMix” feature). Having Roxio go through the 5,000 plus songs on my computer (all in mp3 format) took hours between analyzing the songs and then obtaining the track information, far longer than a similar process in iTunes. One of the more useful audio features present in the suite is the ability to convert songs to a plethora of formats. However, the “AutoMix” feature, which takes songs inputted by the user and attempts to create a playlist with similar songs, while cute, requires inputting a multitude of songs before a playlist that makes sense can be generated.
In fact, it is the more gimmicky features of the this product that are the most frustrating. Adding digital media to a mobile fun can certainly make one's phone more fun, and certainly Roxio tries to make such a dream a reality. However, the utility to perform such tasks takes an extended period to become comfortable with, and, in the end, was almost not worth the effort.
On the flip side of this, and perfected by Roxio a long time ago, the burning and copying of CDs (and DVDs) is a pleasure to use. Whether one is using the one-touch copy ability or the drag and drop method within “Creator Classic,” EMC10 excels at the creation of data and audio CDs. This new version even has the ability to burn onto next-generation (HD and Blu-Ray) DVD discs.
In the end, much of what Roxio's Easy Media Creator 10 Suite does, it does very well. It takes some time to get used to the quirks of the video editing software (shows imported from TiVo can be used in “MyDVD” though not “MyDVD Express”), but the power placed at the average consumer's fingertips is impressive. What makes it all more impressive is the “one-stop shopping” nature of the suite. Virtually anything one wants to do with media (or copying of data), whether it be importing, exporting, or converting, is possible in EMC10. Some other programs may do individual pieces better, but one would be hard pressed to find a single product that does everything so well.