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SOFTWARE TOOLBOX

Easy Media Publishing at a Hefty Price

So you say you want to share slideshows and videos on the Internet without a lot of rigmarole. Problem is, there’s just so much noise in the media sharing space, you just don’t know where to turn. Well, two well-known Net players have an end-to-end solution for you — if you’re willing to pay a hefty price for it.

VitalStream, a video streaming player, and Netgui, a maker of Flash animation software, have teamed up to launch a product called Webbeo.

Webbeo lets you turn photo slideshows or video into Flash files, publish them from within the software to the Net and share them via Web page or URL with anyone you want to share them with.

Breaking the Mold

Jim Byrne, director of OEM for VitalStream, explained Webbeo’s niche to me this way:

“There are a lot of software items out there that you add video, pictures and text to, but to link that to the Web in an easy-to-use manner is where this software breaks the mold.”

While it’s true that the software’s connection to the Web is a slick one, I found Webbeo to be one of those programs that’s happy to do what you want it to do as long as you want to do it its way.

For example, there’s a wizard for quickly putting together a production. When I produced a photo album with the wizard, it inserted stock photos at the beginning and end of the album that I couldn’t figure out how to remove.

That’s nothing new for me. I have a habit of not playing nice with Wizards. So I resorted to the good old fashioned manual method of putting together a production.

Manual Tribulations

Once I started my handmade production, though, it didn’t take long to run afoul of Webbeo again.

I wanted to put a title over the opening image in a slideshow. The title — three words in 36-point type — was too big. Now I could have reduced the type size to fit, but it would have robbed the title of its impact.

So I added three title objects to the frame. Problem was, when they appeared on the screen, they appeared on top of each other. That required further manual adjustment.

When I had the titles the way I wanted them, I decided to get fancy and add some quick effects to them. The end result erased all my customization and I had to start from scratch again.

Swollen Flash File

Bringing video into the program was another eye-opener, especially since using Flash is supposed to cut down on the bandwidth consumed by video.

You can imagine my surprise when Webbeo turned one of my one megabyte Windows media files into a 12 megabyte Flash file for uploading.

Publishing to the Web is as easy as clicking a button. You can choose to upload your production to your own file space or to VitalStream’s. After posting, the program exhibits code for displaying your production on a Web page or in a blog entry, and a URL that can be sent to your friends and relatives for direct viewing.

Pricing, Subscription

The Webbeo software costs US$49.95, but a fully functional version can be tried out free for a limited amount of time.

Space for publishing your productions on VitalStream’s servers is sold on a subscription basis.

The basic service is $29.95 a month for five gigabytes of streaming and 200 megabytes of storage. According to Byrne, that translates into roughly 1,100 videos being streamed per month and 45 videos being stored on the server.

Since $29.95 a month is more money than some people pay for Internet access, it seems Webbeo’s appeal may be limited.

“It’s more for the prosumer, the savvy user,” Byrne said. “People like videobloggers, professional videographers and social clubs.”


John Mello is a freelance business and technology writer who can be reached at [email protected].


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