Unless you are a programmer-cum-blogger, you probably haven't had the opportunity to use Flash in your blog(s) or on your social media sites. This is a drawback for many bloggers, for while they're able to write compelling content, they lack engaging visual content. Up until now, there were just a few choices; have a friend create a Flash video or gallery for you, learn how to program Flash, or just stick to videos and images. Since blogging is an industry that can provide substantial rewards if done correctly, the more tools you use to draw readers to your blog, the better chance you have of becoming "famous."
Thus, if you are serious about blogging, or just enjoy being able to create engaging visual slideshows or videos, there's now a "plug and play" option available from Wondershare. Wondershare, a Chinese company that has been around since 2003, is probably best-known for their PPT2DVD software which converts PowerPoint slides to dynamic video, including DVD menus that enable users to run an entire presentation with a DVD remote control.
Wondershare’s most recent release is Flash Gallery Factory, a software program that enables users to create flash photo galleries, 3-D Flash galleries, slideshows, photo albums, and even banners without any programming experience. Although I have the ability to create Flash using Adobe C3, I've never been able to sit down long enough to learn how to do it, nor have I had the opportunity to attend training. Needless to say, my curiosity was piqued and I wanted to give the software a try.
There were some issues downloading the software, and I wasn't sure if they were a result of my browser, or the download application I use. However, after disabling my download software and switching browses from Chrome, to Internet Explorer, it was a simple download. Flash Gallery Factory comes with 60 flash gallery templates which, according to Wondershare, are updated regularly, providing new and seasonal templates for users. Depending on your knowledge of Flash, you can use one to the "factory" templates, or customize the template to fit your needs. Once the template's been chosen, pick the digital image(s) and music needed for the presentation and add them to the presentation with a simple mouse click. Once the images have been added, they are easily rearranged or removed.
The Flash Gallery Factory also allows for the digital images to be changed after they've been added to the presentation; thus, there is no need to crop all the images beforehand as it's time-saving to do while in the program. There are also image enhancements (filters) available that are similar to what you might find in photo editing software (lens flash, blur, sepia tone, brightness, contrast, etc.
The software comes standard with more than 60 free flash gallery templates that the company updates regularly, including seasonal templates for special holidays. The output is flexible, either as an .swf file (Shockwave Flash), HTML, or as an executable file. My experience with the .swf was that it was difficult to load depending on what blog was used; Blogger did not load correctly, WordPress needed to be modified, and this blog (not sure of the software behind it) required the file to be changed to a different format altogether.
Two modes (“gallery” and “slideshow”) offer the following features:
- More than 25 interactive 3-D flash templates including 3-D Wall, 3-D Carousel, etc.
- Create 3-D flash galleries, flash photo galleries and digital photo albums.
- Import photos and music, select a template, and output gallery.
- Add descriptions and hyperlinks.
- Choose from several effects settings and custom templates for greater control.
- Create flash photo slideshows for websites and flash banners for businesses.
- Add photos and music, select a template and set transition effects, and publish.
- Customize animated text, theme effects and clip art for the slideshow.
There were a few problems with the software; for instance, there is really no way to match the music with the images unless you determine how many images to run for the number of minutes the song runs...trial and error. It took quite a while to figure out the timing, and it still wasn't Plus, as a trial version, Wondershare has made it impossible to use in a "real world" scenario due to the fact that emblazoned across the middle of the screen are words to that effect. The other thing that I did not like: Adding pictures to the timeline did not add them to a specific point, but put all of the images at the end of the presentation which required more time to place. Labeling the pictures was easy; getting the labels to show up in the presentation was something I never figured out. Definitely a "try it before you buy it" recommendation.