PulpMotion Advanced 3 review: Create better slideshows with little effort

Creating a slideshow should be a fairly painless experience that delivers an engaging end-product in the minimum of time. Usually, that isn’t the case as it’s either too simple a result or overly fiddly. Plenty for PulpMotion Advanced3 to take on then – there’s also a cheaper, basic version. It all starts with creating a new theme from, believe it or not, a theme manager. This has a list of all the themes as you might expect, but also tabs for new ones, your favourites, and themes that have been updated. Click on those and they download and update directly in the app. This is certainly slick and the choice of themes ranges from standard page turners to those styled like books, ones set in galleries, as magazine or presented with special effects. Many are only really suitable for friends and family but there’s plenty that stand up to being used for a client, either or a wedding or portrait photographer.

Once a theme has been selected the main PulpMotion layout screen springs into action alongside the Media Manager. This takes imports from iPhoto and Aperture libraries by default, but other apps can be added or folder destinations opened to add to the media list. Photos, sounds from folders, iTunes or GarageBand, videos, special effects or live recording from the iSight camera can also be accessed. The process of creating the slideshow is easy enough – just drag and drop the media, either singularly or as multiple files, onto the timeline. Individual graphical elements can be re-ordered and moved around by simply dragging and dropping. The output resolution is shown in a small box above this and can be changed at any point without unduly affecting what you’ve already done. There are defaults for iOS devices, TV and HD output. The slideshow starts with an introduction and there’s room to enter your own title and words about what the viewer is about to see. Also in this panel on the right, you can toggle to the configuration settings and also the theme chooser. This puts up all the themes you saw initially in a long list. To change the theme of the project without having to start again, simply double-click on it. If the media you have selected doesn’t fit with the new project, you can either keep the existing format or replace it. Some of the themes require layout and text and if the original was just images, then it takes a while to reprocess the entire slideshow.

The resolution for output can be changed in the middle of the project without having to start from scratch. Themes can also be changed.

It’s at this point that things get a little more complicated. In order to edit the layouts that use text, you need to go to the Media Inspector and then click on the Media Editor. There are three different tabs here where the layout can be changed, the text edited and zones of interest can be edited. A zone of interest is something to add to a design that pulls the camera in for a close up to be highlighted. It’s easy enough to get the hang of, but the editing is the one area where it’s not entirely obvious how to use initially. The use of post-it notes the first time a new element is encountered does help significantly though. However, some text elements overlap each other and it’s not that easy to see where to double-click to activate editing the desired field.

An interesting tweak is that when a photo or video is selected on the editing screen, you can manually zoom in to it to highlight a specific area or add a filter. These are fairly basic so if you wanted a retro look for an album you are better off processing the images before starting on the slideshow. It is handy for just a one-off effect though.

The individual text and graphics boxes can be moved and the contents edited with filters available for the photos and video.

Once everything is wrapped up it’s time to export the slideshow and here there’s a number of options from QuickTime, iPhone, AppleTV, iMovie, down to exporting for Facebook and YouTube. Each export option has suggested codecs and processing functions but these can be adjusted for your own requirements.

OUR VERDICT

Lots of themes and a flexible interface that means you can try out different things without losing any progress. The element editing is rather hidden away but the use of post-it notes helps show what functions are available. There’s some imaginative options that will clearly suit a commercial purpose as well as family-friendly ones. It’s slick, generally easy-to-use and a great way of creating customised slideshows.

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