Magic Camera adds effects to your Webcam

Add effects and overlays to your Webcam with this shareware.

Shining Morning's Magic Camera is shareware that adds a variety of effects and overlays to your Webcam feed, screen capture window, or saved videos and pictures. It's free to try, but the free version places a watermark and includes a nag screen. It's easy to use, but the effects it adds are run of the mill, and many are poorly rendered. Recent updates include Windows 8 compatibility. We tried Magic Camera in Windows 7.

Magic Camera's user interface is colorful and simple enough, but it's not especially attractive or intuitive, and the optional skin (for a total of two) barely changed the look. The icons and buttons are rendered at a lower resolution than we're accustomed to seeing in graphics-related shareware. The main window features a Webcam display above a panel for displaying files and an awkwardly phrased Help/FAQ feature, plus a couple of buttons that we couldn't quite figure out. There's an attached panel the height of the main window (but with a different style of interface) but it only contains a Webcam selector. We could also show our desktop with a draggable selector tool or load a still image or video clip to enhance and project over our Webcam feed. Clicking the Effects button opened the Effects panel. Magic Camera offers 12 categories of effects: Frame, Distort, Filter, Scene, PiP, Text, Flash, Emotion, Mask, Background, Animation, and Paint. Most offered a menu of preview examples. We merely had to click on an effect to add it to our image or remove it from the effects list.

While Magic Camera offers plenty of effects, the effects themselves range from average to lame, especially when compared with free tools that do much the same or more. Many of the effects had a greeting card look that's too cute by half. Several effects raised eyebrows: Bill Gates and Vladimir Putin are public figures, but Tigger and Shrek aren't. We saw both with no attribution or acknowledgement; worse, the Shrek images looks like some text has been obscured, and the Tigger images are actually animated. Better apps are available for less money -- even for free.

Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of Magic Camera 8.0.

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