• Price: £212.75 plus VAT

  • Company: Digital Workshop

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

lluminatus has for several years been a byword for affordable and approachable multimedia, which was confirmed this year when Digital Workshop released Illuminatus Opus. Now with this Pro edition, the program pretty much leaves all its existing competition behind and starts nibbling at the heels of Macromedia Director. Opus Pro is a versatile multimedia creation and production package. You can use it to prepare interactive training materials and business work, or similar productions such as promotional multimedia titles, games and screensavers. This is done with a productive mix of Triggers, Actions, animation paths and drawing tools, as well as support for a great many picture, movie and audio formats. Opus Pro moves all this up a gear with several core upgrade features that professional designers would need. Database controls The most significant of these is the ability to link to ODBC data. Combine this with Opus Pro’s use of variable data entry (now also including Expressions), and suddenly the program is in big-time development territory. User-entered data can be posted back to a Web site, or your presentation can fire off emails. It also comes with its own OpusScript language based on JavaScript, allowing more complex events to be built. The irony is that the Opus Pro interface is actually quite friendly for a multimedia creation package, but solid text-based scripting is essential for the program to be taken seriously by professional developers. Beyond these big new features, Opus Pro is treated to a long list of small enhancements and clever tricks which actually make the program a lot more satisfying. For example, you can now tell one object to react when it comes into contact with another using the new Collision Detection feature – no more fiddling around with additional triggers and events. This particular feature also lets you set Actions when objects move away from each other, which is an interesting touch. Also welcome are little extras such as Rollover Frames (handy for context-sensitive pop-ups and tooltips), the detection of mouse movement itself as an Action trigger, and a simple but useful Resource Manager window for keeping track of associated component files. Then there are the tiny additions such as Count Words and Lines, Drop Zone (for refused triggers), and a Clock complete with Start and Stop Actions. Digital Workshop also states that performance has been improved, especially with respect to video, although we were unable to measure this. As with the Opus pack, Opus Pro is supplied with a second CD containing animations, backgrounds and various other resources, all royalty-free. To this end, while the upgrade cost from the original Opus is fair, upgrading from Illuminatus 4.51 or earlier is an absolute must at the price. Our only concern is the program’s blinkered attitude to anything that isn’t Windows: professional multimedia, and especially Web multimedia, ought to be multi-platform regardless of what kind of computer you use to create it. If you can live with this, and are being forced to choose between PowerPoint and sometimes incomprehensible Director for your multimedia creation fix, Opus Pro is an ideal solution. It’s more powerful than you’d think, yet rather easier to use than most people expect.