Price When Reviewed: 119 . 29
Pros: The real-time feedback is much smoother than that achieved by a general-purpose timeline editor. The dedicated interface offers almost as much control as a full compositing program.
Cons: Expensive for a single-purpose application. Limited to Canopus editing applications plus Premiere and Premiere Pro.
Making the most of still images is an essential part of documentary and corporate editing. The process of moving and zooming stills is known as rostrum camera animation, after the original system using a rostrum and real-world zooms and movement.
Rostrum camera work can be quite fiddly using most standard timeline editing tools. Imaginate is a single-purpose program specifically designed to make animating still images quicker, easier, and more effective. However, while it used to be particularly essential for Premiere users when the Adobe software only had Image Pan on offer for such work, now that Premiere Pro is resolution independent and offers full motion controls, Imaginate 2.0 needed a lot more to keep it useful.
The good news is that Canopus has added many new features. The original version of Imaginate took you straight into a timeline, where you could keyframe various camera moves over your chosen still image. Imaginate 2.0 has developed into its own mini-editing environment. For those short on time, there’s a wizard process that leads you through choosing and animating your images.
It has two options – a vastly simplified process where you choose one of six pre-supplied project themes, and a more advanced process where you get a little more control. With the latter, you can choose the clip duration, add an accompanying audio file, and then select what motion to apply. This then leads you through yet more branches where you can add one of a large selection of templates, or use a simplified interface to define custom zooming and motion for your images.
As Imaginate now supports creating a slideshow with multiple images, there’s a new storyboard mode. Each image becomes a scene, and these are then arranged sequentially with a transition from one to the next. Double-clicking on a scene calls up a timeline interface, with full keyframing control of parameters like zoom and position, as well as 3D camera position. Imaginate 2.0 now adds a keyframeable blur effect as well. Canopus has brought editing application support bang up to date, too – Imaginate 2.0 works with Canopus’s own Edius NLE, plus Premiere and Premiere Pro, including the latest 1.5 release.
Unlike using Premiere or After Effects, there’s no need to render to get a high framerate preview of how the panning and zooming will look, even with images a few thousand pixels each way. This is true if Imaginate is being used as a Premiere Pro plug-in, too - Adobe’s own motion control is unable to do this.
Although Imaginate is no longer an essential tool now that Premiere Pro is resolution independent, its speed makes it much more productive. If you use a lot of animated still images in your video productions and edit with one of the supported applications, it’s well worth the money.