Roxio Media Creator 2011: Easily Create Your Own 3D Content
At a Glance
Easy Media Creator 2011
This is the best media creation and disc burning suite for most users, though the learning curve is challenging and upgrades are expensive.
In keeping with this year's all-things-3D theme, Roxio's latest media creation and disc-burning suite, Media Creator 2011 ($100 for the standard edition, $129 for the Pro edition, prices as of September 1, 2010) includes do-it-yourself 3D creation capabilities for creating or transcoding images and videos to anaglyph 3D. Other changes in the package are minimal. however.
Like previous editions, the latest Media Creator suite offers a set of highly effective tools for preparing video, audio, and data prior to actually burning anything to disc. The short list of capabilities includes editing and transcoding video, music, and photos; backing up; creating and burning ISO and other images; authoring and burning CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs; recording and cleaning (Pro version) audio; and playing and streaming multimedia.
Media Creator 2011 still feels a bit like a hodge-podge of separate apps (many retain their old, individual names, too), but Roxio has extended a consistent (and handsome) look and feel to virtually every application and tool in the package. I was hoping that the company had finished enfolding most of the functionality within the friendly Roxio application launcher, but for some basic tasks (such as label creation) you still have to wait for external applications to boot. Also, the suite still suffers from offering too many ways to accomplish the same task. Does anyone need two label creation programs?
The biggest news here is the 3D. Media Creator 2011 can transcode 2D media to anaglyph 3D, RealD, and Real 3D, for viewing through those funky red and blue filter and polarized glasses--as opposed to the active-shutter glasses used with newfangled TVs and games and dual-stream 3D that requires dedicated hardware. Roxio even puts a pair of the throwback paper glasses into the box, and sells a plastic pair of anaglyph glasses, too (though they won't work over your eyeglasses). The transcoding results are surprisingly effective, adding a depth-of-field effect to images and video that fans of 3D will like. My personal reaction to 3D tends toward dizziness, but your mileage may vary.
Setting up the program to convert 2D images and video to 3D is simple. You have the option of converting a single image, two images that are shot a couple of lateral inches apart (as far apart as your eyes), or any type of video. Load the images or video, click the Save button (video is transcoded to 3D on import), and you're done. You can export to almost any 3D format, including 3D to DVD and AVCHD.
The suite complements its 3D centerpiece with a small number of welcome improvements. The backup app has been reworked to provide a better workflow. Video handling is improved with one-click video rotation (a huge boon for cell-phone camera videographers, who can easily--and inadvertently--snap an entire video in vertical mode). Other upgrades include support for the open-source, royalty-free .MKV media container format; new project templates; improved social networking with direct Facebook uploads; and a DLNA-certified media server component for streaming content from your PC to other devices.
The Pro version of Media Creator adds the BackOnTrack 4 image backup program, the SmartSound Sonicfire Pro soundtrack editing app, Bias SoundSoap SE audio restoration software, the Roxio Blu-ray video authoring plug-in ($20 separately for the regular version), and Secure Burn disc encryption. Both versions require a $50 plug-in to play back Blu-ray movie discs--including 3D.
Unwieldiness aside, Roxio Creator 2011 remains the premier media-handling and disc-burning suite. It lets an artistic know-nothing like me produce high-quality movies, slideshows, and other projects with minimal effort. Still, if 3D isn't big news to you, you can probably stick with whatever recent version of Roxio Media Creator you already use, since the other improvements are minimal.