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Geek Chic: ProShow Gold

Casual home users who want to create slide shows of images and videos accompanied by a background sound track will find few products simpler to use than ProShow Gold, yet they will find some appealing extra touches in the latest version. I had my first slide show running almost as fast as my parakeets flew a few laps around my office. And I did it just by dragging and dropping image files onto ProShow without reading a word from the impressive manual. (Yes, there’s a real, printed manual -- 350-pages long. How retro! And how much appreciated!)

ProShow Gold puts the tools for creating slide and video presentations into a clean, functional interface.

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You won’t mistake ProShow Gold for a professional’s slide-show solution — consider something like ProShow Producer for that. But while the Gold version is easy to use, it does provide some very interesting features. For example, you can use image file formats that support transparency (TIFF, GIF, PNG, and PSD) to build slide shows that let the background show through parts of the image. The video trimmer allows precision down to the level of individual frames, and the audio trimmer offers similar power. And after you’ve got your visual and audio effects for one presentation just right, such as optional captions, transition effects (more than 250 are provided), and backgrounds, the menuing feature allows you to save your efforts as a template for future creations.

The features you would expect are in the box as well — image enhancement, one-click photo fix, audio fading, and image panning, zooming, and rotating. If you have the necessary hardware, you can add voice-overs to your presentations.

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