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Software Review of:
PhotoMontage VE
(Video Edition)


Clarke Bird, the editor of the magazine you are reading, has had great fun with this program. Try it and you will be hooked too.

From the October, 2003 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

This is one of my favorite imaging programs. In a nutshell, it takes an image that you select and produces a photo montage, comprised of hundreds (or thousands if you let the program use its own micro-images) of small micro-images to produce a montage the original image.

The program looks at all the colors that comprise the image you select, then picks similar colors from its huge database of micro-images, then places each image, one by one, as if it were "painting" over the selected image. This whole process takes less than a minute to produce a photo montage.

What's new with PhotoMontage VE is the ability to create a customized photo library from individual frames of our own digital home movies to use in a photo montage. This would enable you to produce a montage using your own personal images.

I've done similar customized PhotoMontage projects with three previous PC Alamode covers but I chose a masochistic way to produce each cover. I scanned literally hundreds of photos and colored parts of each image to help the program choose which images to use in the montage. Using frames from a home digital movie film would make the whole process a lot simpler.

Let me walk you through a montage process. First, you have to have an image in mind which you want to montage. I chose a photo of Marilyn standing in our entry hall and cropped it to include just the upper part of her body using another ArcSoft product, PhotoStudio. Since this was to be a review of PhotoMontage, I made an easy decision to let the program use its database of micor-images to montage the photo of Marilyn. The montage was to be done in color so - to let the reader know, Marilyn was wearing a pale blue tanktop and a red and yellow flowered skirt - lots of color for the program to find and use.

Once I had selected the photo I wanted to montage, the next screen asks for details. At this point, you can pick from your own personal photo albums that you earlier had produced by choosing an album name and selecting photos to go in each album. Clicking on an album name inserts a checkmark in front of the album to let you know it will include photos from that album in your montage. Note that I chose the Mega Collection for Marilyn's montage. You also choose a micro-image count from selected groupings and whether you want small or large micro-images. At this point, you can also tell the program whether you want a micro-image to be repeated or not. Since I would be using the thousands of images in Mega Image collection, I clicked Never Repeat.

Also, at this point, you can choose to have a caption at the bottom of your montage, select a font and type in your caption. Now you are ready for the program to do its magic.

As the montage process starts, little micro-squares start flowing across the screen from left to right and top to bottom, turning Marilyn's photo into a negative image. Immediately thereafter, the process starts over, inserting color-matched micro-images on her face, tanktop, skirt and and the background of the photo. You watch in amazement, seeing your photo being turned into a montage of hundreds and hundreds of micro-photos.

At this point, you can print an inkjet color print of your montage or save it as a JPG, TIF, or BMP file and take it to Kinko's, Office Max, Office Depot or any film processor to obtain a color print. A further option is to have ArcSoft produce a color poster of your masterpiece. Imagine producing a 50th wedding anniversary poster of your parents, made from hundreds of pictures of their life together. Priceless!

All this can be yours for about $39.99.

Recently I tackled a project for my 50th highschool reunion. I used PhotoMontage to produce the cover for a 64 page magazine containing 80 bios of what our classmates have been doing for the past 50 years. I scanned the individual class pictures (grayscale photos in those days). I had planned to use words as the object to montage to, so I produced a couple of JPG files with different combinations of words. I had darkened the background of deceased classmates photos in order to force the program to use these photos to montage to the words. The results weren't very satisfactory. It's my belief that PhotoMontage likes to work with a large color image as the target image to montage to - and to use color micro-images to match the colors and become the montage itself. I don't think the grayscale photos I was attempting to use gave enough choice to the program to produce a satisfactory result.

ArcSoft, 46601 Freemont Ave. Freemont, CA 94538. Phone: 510/440-9901.

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