It's been a long time since a vendor made it all the way in to our Wisconsin offices to show off their wares. (I originally wrote "all the way out," but considering most vendors are on one coast or another, and we're in flyover land, "in" seems more accurate.) The last time that happened was when Roxio's Vito Salvaggio and Chris Taylor brought Easy Media Creator 7 to our downtown Madison digs and knocked our socks off before Chris had finished his first doughnut.
At the time, we were still called EMedia, and concerned with all manner of post-production products from the hobbyist right up to (though not including) broadcast. These days, something like Easy Media Creator 7 is just outside EventDV's scope, but not by much. Even though most videographers demand tools more feature-rich and robust for the bulk of their work, upper-level consumer products like Easy Media Creator are inexpensive and invaluable digital-media Swiss army knives that let producers accomplish plenty of tasks simply and quickly. Creator 7 put complete versions of VideoWave 7 Professional, Easy CD & DVD Creator, and PhotoSuite 7 Platinum together in the same box for $99, and it was obvious at first blush that Roxio had set the new standard in multi-app suites.
Further examination revealed that Creator 7 wasn't without its flaws, though; in his April 2004 EMedia review (pp. 34-38), Stephen F. Nathans heaped praise upon VideoWave's video slideshow function—which takes your slides, times them to fit your music, and automatically adds pan-and-zoom effects that you can later customize, previewing video and audio in real time—but wasn't quite so thrilled about DVD Builder, calling it one of the most "feature-deprived" DVD authoring tools he'd ever seen. So when Roxio sold everything but its Napster division to Sonic Solutions last December, we had high hopes that the next version of DVD Builder would be an improvement. After all, who knows more about DVD authoring than Sonic?
'Twas not to be, from the looks of it. Easy Media Creator 7.5, announced in March and set for April release, is chock-full of additional features, like an LP and Tape Assistant for converting your analog tunes to digital and an enhanced Sound Editor. It even boasts a few Sonic staples, like Backup My PC Deluxe 6 and the by-the-DVD-book MyDVD Slideshow for purists who pooh-pooh the VideoWave approach. But DVD Builder is the same old same old—woefully limited navigation control, no chapter menu on the title page, and chapter thumbnails on submenu pages that are nigh on impossible to read.
Maybe it's too much to ask for a suite like this one to excel at everything it offers, kind of like what my father-in-law calls a "blivet," which is the result of cramming 12 pounds of you-know-what into a ten-pound bag. And Creator 7.5 is still best-in-class, especially since the price hasn't changed. But without a better DVD-authoring function, it's not-quite-perfect.