Canopus Imaginate 2 test and review

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Canopus Imaginate 2

V1 of Imaginate gave editors the chance to add animated stills to projects with much more control than standard image-panning filters in video editing software. The MkII version adds smart wizards, multiple-image support and the ability to include audio

The first version of Canopus's rostrum camera simulation program Imaginate impressed us when we first looked at it. It offered editors plenty of control in animating still images, and also worked as a plug-in for Adobe Premiere and Canopus's own video editing programs. However, we thought that the program's price - £175 (inc VAT) was too high and likely to limit sales. This shortcoming was underlined with the arrival of Lumidium's excellent still-image animation program, DigiRostrum, available in its DV version for just £50. And DigiRostrum also came out on top for its more intuitive style of operation.
V2 of Imaginate sees the price cut to a more reasonable £139, but the on-going benefit of having it operate as a plug-in doesn't justify the extra cost over DigiRostrum DV. There has to be a bigger draw for it to prove its worth and, to this end, Canopus has taken a more global approach to the idea of still image animation - adding the ability to create self-contained image montages with soundtracks, and motion-menu sequences for DVD projects.
Another major enhancement - at least for some - is the addition of smart wizards. These serve to guide the user in ways they perhaps hadn't considered when putting images together, and also act as a showcase for what the program can do.
In this way, Canopus hopes that Imaginate 2 will appeal to advanced users and entry-level beginners alike. And it isn't just the inclusion of smart wizards that's designed to help newbies on-board. For instance, while all the functionality of a precise image animation program lies within, unless disabled, every click on features within the main interface brings up a window explaining what that particular function does. This is the default style of operation when Imaginate is first started up, but the ability to disable these pop-up windows also applies to dialogues such as delete confirmation, which can be useful for speeding up workflow.


Version 2 of Imaginate offers some significant advances that make the program considerably more capable. The wizards and multi-image capability will help quickly put together shots in an original and richer format than an average photo editor, and the way in which audio is now supported makes it easy to cut still image sequences to sound.
There are disappointments, though. The usability is not up to the standard of Lumidium's cheaper rival, and for a program that comes so well-presented - with a glossy manual and extensive on-screen help - it's surprising to find that there are still some quirks to be ironed out, notably the reversion to fit-on-screen magnification when saving a project and the problem of out-of-reach spline handles. We'd also like to have seen Twain support in this new version of Imaginate, allowing users to scan images directly into the program.
As it stands, Imaginate 2 offers an interesting and useful toolset for making multimedia discs and stills sequences for video projects. However, more attention needs to be paid to certain aspects of operation, so we'd advise waiting for a further update - hopefully in the form of a further free service pack - or opting for DigiRostrum if sound and multi-image capability aren't a priority.

Hugo Frazer

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