When I first started using portable devices, way back in 2000, I thought they would be a fantastic vehicle for editing photos and creating slideshows and picture movies. They weren’t. At least not then. Fast forward to 2005, when I discovered Resco Photo Viewer. At last , a mobile photo editor which was comparable, in many ways, to my desktop. Now we were talking. But still, I could not find a way to mix my photos with music or video to . Well, now there is TrakAxe Mobile, which allows you to “create mixes in three easy steps.” Hit the jump for a closer look.
Installation and Registration: Head on over to the TrakAx web site to download the seven day trial. This can be installed via ActiveSync or Windows Mobile Device Center. You had better edit fast though, because once your seven days are up, you will need to pay the piper $29.95 to keep going with this one.
Memory: I don’t normally set aside a section to discuss memory usage, but I felt there were a few points that needed to be made right off the bat. The first was how long the program takes to load. Launching from within Pocket Plus, it took nearly 10 seconds to reach the splash screen, and another 5 to get to the workspace. That is a total of 15 seconds before I was ready to go. Way too long. I hope it runs faster than it loads. Second, was the amount of program memory it requires. After a soft reset, I had 17.13 MB of available program memory. Once loaded, my available memory was down to 15.06. Yikes! That is over 2 MB of program memory, and awful lot for just one program.
Step 1 Picking Media: Before you can mix your media, you first have to select it. There are six channels, each of which can be filed with media. I found this to be a bit odd and limiting until I finally realized that you can add multiple tracks (particularly pictures) to each channel.
There are three sections on the media assignment screen. The left portion shows all of the content in your selected location. The right portion displays the six media channels. Simply drag the selected content and drop it in the correct channel. One you have added content to a channel, the channel header will illuminate in an assigned color. If you make a mistake, simply tap the trash can on the far right to clear the channel.
At the bottom of the screen is a menu bar, which is divided into three sections. The first is the media filter buttons. This allows you to filter the media in the selected location for music, video, pictures, or Trakax projects. From here, you can also change your selected media location by tapping the file folder icon.
The second section are the extras. This is where you can add text, captions, or credits; or record a voiceover and narration. Finally, the last section is the mixer, which will switch to the mixing screen.
I really liked the drag and drop format. The channel format was not terribly intuitive, but once you got accustomed to it, it really was very easy to use. My only frustration was that the content display window was extremely slow to react and scroll through your media. If I had more than a few items in a list, then the window would almost seem to freeze as I scrolled through the list.
Once you have loaded all of your selected media into the appropriate channels, just tap the mix button and you will be transferred to the mixing screen.
Step 2 Mixing Media: The mixing screen also has several different portions. The main section is the preview screen, where you will be able to view the elements as they are mixed. Beneath that is the channel list, showing the items you placed in it earlier. On the left is the timer, master volume control, and record button. Tap the record button to begin. Then, just tap the channel to activate or deactivate it from being added to the mix. Tap the recording button a second time to stop the mix. One thing I did find odd was that there is no way to pause a channel. If you deactivate the channel while recording, it will restart from the beginning of the channel, rather than where you left off.
If you are planning to send your final mix to another viewer, then you will also want to check out the mix wizard. Simply tap the magic wand on the right to open the mix wizard, which will help you create mixes which are, “tailored to your specific needs.” From here, you can setup an environment for:
- Free Mixing (default)
- Single MMS
- Double MMS
- Small Email
- Large Email
- Best Quality
Everything else will remain the same, however, the mixer will automatically stop recording once you have reached the specified file size.
Step 3 Save and Share: Now that you have successfully mixed your media, all that is left is to hit the save screen. To do so, you will notice a save icon which has appeared on the right side of the screen above the master volume. Tap this to take your project to the save screen. From here, you can replay your mix, save it to your device, save the project for further editing a later time, or send it via MMS or Email.
There you have it. Just add media, mix, and save. Three easy steps to perfect media mixes. What’s that? You say the pictures are all in the wrong order? and you only want a small section of the video and song you used? Oh and you want to add some captions and credits. And you want video transitions between your pictures? Yikes, that is a pretty tall order. Fortunately, the advanced features offered by Trakax, what I call Beyond the Three Steps are ready to jump in and help.
Audio Editing: To enter the audio editing screen, we will need to return to the main assignment screen, where we loaded the media into the channels. This feature is a little bit hidden, but once you know how to find it, it is a snap to open. Any channel with music will have a small audio icon in the channel bar. Just tap that icon to enter the audio editing screen.
This is not a highly technical editor. Simply start playing the music (you can track your location by using the wave form on the screen). When you reach the beginning of the segment you want, simply tap the green flag scissors (new start point). At the end of the clip tap the red flagged scissors (new end point). When you are done, tap the green play button to play the section you selected. Now, the only decision left to make is whether to loop the file continuously throughout your slide show or play it once and be done. The final button (the dashed arrow) will toggle between loop and single play.
I found this editor to be somewhat rudimentary, however, it did get the job done. While other programs might offer more sophisticated editing tools, it was nice to have everything in one place.
Video Editing: Video editing is almost identical to audio editing. Again, add your video to the selected channel, and tap the video icon. This will load the same editing screen. Instead of the wave form audio, however, you will see a video playback. Just like the audio, start playing the video and tap the start cut and end cut where you wish to begin and end the clip.
Advanced Slide Show: The advanced slide show allows you to control the speed and order of the pictures assigned to any channel. Once you have loaded your pictures into one of the channels, just tap the photo icon in the channel to get started.
On the screen in the upper portion you will be able to view the currently selected picture. Beneath that is a list of all of the pictures assigned to the channel. Simply drag and drop or use the arrows to reorder the pictures. I did find that working with the pictures, unlike audio and video, involved a great deal of lag time. Scrolling through the list (even a short list) or tapping a picture to view it, could take several seconds. This was far too long. In order for this feature to be functional, it must allow the user to quickly scroll through the list of photos and quickly view each one.
To add transitions between the pictures, simply tap the transitions button. From here, you can add a fade, swipe, slide, or random transition. I was disappointed to find a very limited number of transitions. A program like this should have more transitions at your disposal. You can also select the speed of the transitions and the direction they will move. If you change your mind about a transition later, don’t worry. You can always change them during live editing. From the transition screen, you can also control the speed of the slideshow by manipulating how long each picture will be displayed.
Adding Text and Captions: Now that we have finished with all of the graphical elements, let’s take a step back and take a look at what we have here. Who was that in the third picture again? Great Aunt Fay? Yeah, I know you know that. But does anyone else know that? Maybe we should add some captions.
Adding captions or text on top of your photos and videos is a piece of cake. Tap the Text icon and you are ready to roll. Tap inside the big text box and start typing. Once you are done, the text will be displayed on the screen, along with your formatting options. You can:
- change the color,
- bold, italicize, or underline
- change the font size
- move the text horizontally on the screen
- move the text vertically on the screen
There were not a lot of powerful text options here, but I don’t think a lot of powerful formatting options are required in order to make this feature work. In fact, too many options can make this considerably more difficult than it needs to be. I thought Trakax did a good job of striking a balance between allowing you to control the text without providing endless and complicated customization options.
Start and End Credits: Now that your presentation is finished, you will want to take credit. Go ahead, add a title and let people know who was behind this whole thing with some start and end credits. To access this screen, just tap the credits button under the extras section of the main assignment screen. This will take you to a text entry screen which is similar, but not identical to the captions screen. From here you can create your credits and add them to your video. Tap the green flag to place them at the beginning. Tap the red flag to place them at the end.
Overall Impressions: I am thrilled to see a program like this finally make its way to the Windows Mobile platform. Trakax provides a fantastic introduction to media mixing for Windows Mobile users. And that is exactly what it felt like, an introduction. Trakax wetted my appetite for this kind of program, but fell short of leaving me completely satisfied with the somewhat unintuitive controls and rudimentary transitions and editing features. I say, well done to Trakax for finally bringing media mixing to Windows Mobile, and I will be awaiting the next upgrade which will hopefully include many more advanced features.
What I Liked: This is a program which has been a long time coming for the Windows Mobile platform. Once you figure out the controls, very easy to use. I made a media mix in a matter of minutes. Nice to have all of the tools in one place.
What Needs Improvement: Can be slow, particularly when loading or editing pictures. Some of the tools, such as slideshow transitions and editing audio and video are extremely rudimentary. Some of the features are hidden behind buttons which are not readily apparent. There is no photo editing tool, which would be nice.
Name: TrakAx Mobile
Where to Buy: TraxAx