Vuvox mashes up media with style, lives up to hype

Vuvox was one of the few services that wasn't quite ready for the public after showing off its wares at Demo 2007. Like Flektor, Good Widgets, RockYou, Slide, Mixercast, and other mashup services, Vuvox lets users pull in media content from the Web or a hard drive, and put that content together using a Web-based editor. The end result is something that's visually engaging and can be shared via e-mail, or embedded on blogs, Web sites, and social networking profiles. The service is officially opening its doors to everyone as of today.

Vuvox grabs your media in two places. The first is from Web services such as YouTube, Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, and Google. The other place is your hard drive. You can upload files one at a time, or in batches after installing Vuvox's small browser plug-in. Once you've added your media, it's a simple drag-and-drop process. You can reorder, combine, or delete pictures or video in a simple queue. When you're done creating, you can apply one of Vuvox's 11 different themes. Each is unique, and has various visual styles that enhance, or in some cases stylize, your media. You can also use some advanced editing tools, like a cropper and layer mask, to tweak your shots.

Once published, each user gets their own channel. Other users can come by and comment on slide shows, and then share the slide shows with others either by e-mail, embedded link, or a URL. The service also has a featured section, showing off some of the more popular, or notable, works by users.

Like most services these days, Vuvox also has a Facebook application. Similar to the full version of the site, you can grab content from Flickr and Picasa. Since it's Facebook, you're also able to pick photos from your Facebook albums. When finished, you have the option to share the content with friends, and post it to your profile. The only downside here is that the Vuvox editor has been tweaked slightly, both in size and features, to accommodate the Facebook crowd. The results look just as good, but the editing experience isn't nearly as enjoyable.

Is Vuvox worth using over the competition? It's pretty impressive for a new service, and quite polished. The one snag is that it can be a little slow, and you don't have a lot of control over the way some of the themes play with the presentation of your shots. If you're looking for a similar media mashup tool that offers stylization but also a little more user control, check out SplashCast (also a Demo 2007 launch) and Flektor (review).

For more screen shots of the interface and an example of the embedded application, click the Read More link below.

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Hands-on with Flektor's content creator

Flektor is a new Flash-based content mashup tool. Users can pull in photos from several hosting services like flickr, MySpace, and Photobucket to make slick-looking, embeddable media slide shows for blogs, Web sites or social networks. It's a lot like Mixercast, and other media mashup services like RockYou and SplashCast.

Flektor's interface is drag-and-drop, and has a very short learning curve. To add media to your show, just drag imported media files down to a timeline at the bottom of the screen, where they can be rearranged or removed at any time. There are also "Flidgets" which can be inserted into your show to add live chat, a live broadcast from your Webcam, or cliched film effects like color bars or static. What's really neat is the ability to edit any picture with some easy-to-use sliders that let you do simple, on-the-fly alterations to your photographs--something you'd find on a Web-based photo editing tool like Picnik.

To add a little flair to your show, there are nearly 100 transitions, effects, and filters that can be put on top of or in between your media. You can also edit each effect and change its appearance. Out of the many transitions I've seen on some of these Flash editors (Photobucket's Remix in particular), Flektor has some really snappy and good-looking effects.

The main hindrance in using Flektor is how long it takes to communicate with the third-party services. Flickr in particular takes quite a while to sync up photos from various albums. On the upside, the MySpace integration is very simple; just give it a username and it will pull up photos members have uploaded in addition to any images that have been embedded in user comments. It's also easy to embed your Flektor player on a number of services, with a handy export page that provides special embedding codes for a dozen services (including Google's Orkut).

I've embedded a sample "Flek" I put together using some photo and video clips. For screenshots of the editing interface, keep reading.

[via Mashable]

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Mix faster, MixerCast

MixerCast is a new Web based tool for creating sharable slide shows. It pulls media from several different popular Web services like flickr, YouTube, MySpace, and Getty images, and lets users customize the look and feel with basic design templates. The show can then be shared with others through a direct URL or embedded into several social networks.

I've played with a ton of these tools since I started on Webware, but this is one of the few that actually emulates the feel of a desktop application. In this case, it feels a lot like one of Apple's consumer applications from the iLife suite. You can pick various elements to drag and drop into the template, like photos, videos or even a map from Yahoo (which, by the way, I found to be a little buggy).

MixerCast is definitely aimed at the social networking crowd. A few of its themes and templates, including one that's a full-on Pepsi advertisement, forgo a slick, clean look as you can get with a competing, mixed-media sharing tool like SplashCast. It's still really simple to put together a rich slide show, and share it with others, which makes it worth a try.

I've embedded a MixerCast module below, with pictures from last night's Digg 1 million-user celebration here in San Francisco. More screen shots of the user interface are shown after the jump.

See also: RockYou

[via DownloadSquad, via GigaOm]

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