Remember Easy CD Creator? Not too many years ago, it was the OEM standard bundle for systems shipping with a CD burner. Admittedly, I didn’t like Easy CD Creator. It seemed to conflict with other software apps I liked. This caused me to ignore the next generation release, Easy CD/DVD Creator 6, an evolutionary step toward authoring anything you could put in a burner, including several add-on apps designed to improve content creation. Easy Media Creator takes a giant evolutionary step, recognizing users expect to burn shiny disks containing music, movies, and photos, with a unified content creation process. Roxio now offers a product I can endorse without reservation. Easy Media Creator is a great collection of digital media tools.
Application functionality is grouped into five major task areas: Music, Data, Photo, Video, and DVD. These tasks only scratch the surface of potential applications for Easy Media Creator. In addition to the high-level tasks exposed in the universal interface, Easy Media Creator includes tools designed to make content creation and editing a snap.
PhotoSuite 7 offers most of the common features needed for customizing and improving pictures before burning to disk or printing. Crop, rotate, remove red eye, and text additions are all displayed by default. Showing all features reveals some particularly useful actions, like blemish and wrinkle removal, which work surprisingly well. Features are far more intuitive than consumer products like Photoshop Elements, offering more than enough options for most users. Email, print, or set a photo as desktop wallpaper directly from the PhotoSuite interface. To create a photo slideshow, return to the Easy Media Creator universal interface to launch the appropriate application.
Sound Editor is the sleeper app in the Easy Media Creator bundle. This full-featured audio editor offers all the common EQ and processing effects used to achieve custom sounds, along with noise reduction designed for improving the sound of analog recordings. Capable of opening most common audio file types, I haven’t found any two-track editing tasks I needed a different editor for. For the price, you could compare Easy Media Creator to buying Sound Forge XP and getting video and photo editing, DVD authoring, and a bunch of other tools free.
The underlying video editor for Easy Media Creator is VideoWave. MGI bundled this app with everything under the sun, prior to selling it to Roxio. As far as I can tell, this is basically the same application with an interface designed to fit with the overall appearance of the product suite. VideoWave offers an intuitive interface with workflow designed specifically with the novice user in mind. Effects and transitions are easily added to movie clips. Titling is functional, but not as intuitive as using the titles found in Windows Movie Maker 2. File output is MPEG or MPEG-2 video, which results in decent file sizes and compatibility for burning DVDs, but doesn’t achieve the same small-file performance gained when outputting files for PC or Web playback in WMV format using an app like Movie Maker.
Like Movie Maker, this is a great app to get started in video editing, but you may ultimately want to experiment with a larger feature set. I continue to find VideoWave inferior to Ulead’s VideoStudio due to a lack of more advanced editing features. If you plan to create DVDs with your video, this is a great tool for achieving an end-to-end experience, without feeling overwhelmed by complex editing options. For most projects, VideoWave contains all the tools you need to create a solid movie or DVD.
As expected, CD/DVD burning is included through Creator Classic. If you are familiar with previous versions of the software, this will seem very familiar. Easy Media Creator includes a CD label maker with all the typical features. DVD authoring with DVDBuilder is particularly intuitive, making it easy to go from finished movie to shiny disk.
The Napster music service is now bundled in this grouping as well, which is by far the best of the Windows Media download services. Create greeting cards using your photo collection. Media Manager provides an intuitive solution for organizing music, videos, and photos, although I didn’t find it to be any easier than creating my own folders in Windows Explorer.
For most consumers, this is the perfect blend of simplicity and functionality. All digital media needs are found in one common location, with enough editing features to last until the next version comes around. While I pointed out several weaknesses in individual application areas, as a package, I haven’t found anything else performing consistently at the same level. Gone are the bugs more common to older versions of Easy CD Creator. Hopefully the outstanding feature enhancements are here to stay.