JUNE 10, 2006
Pictureal a Great Alternative to PC Video Editing
Pictureal is an online service that will take your raw home videos and make them into nifty finished products that can be easily accessed, shared, and personalized into formats ranging from music videos to DVD movies. If you like to record all your vacations and special family moments as much as I do, you know that it is sometimes embarrassing to show the raw footage to anyone. I often leave the camcorder on while walking along and take several minutes of the ground or, worse yet, parts of my anatomy. There is a big learning curve if you attempt to edit home videos using most of the current PC based products. Even the simplest editing software seems daunting to use when you need to cut something out of the middle of an hour of your latest trip or replace your stupid dialog with some music. In a nutshell, there should be an easier way. Pictureal seems to have the answer.
My initial contact with them was very friendly. I signed up on their web site and requested the mailer pack be sent to my home. It arrived in a few days by FedEx. All packaging was provided and return postage included. I sent them five mini DVD video tapes that included travels to Italy and Egypt with my two daughters (approximately 2.5 hours of video) in the FedEx box and waited. Pictureal is very conscious of customer worries about losing the tapes so they sent updates by email as to when they received the tapes, when they competed the copy process, and when they FedExed them back to me. They also informed me when the finished product was available on their site www.pictureal.com .
When I received the Email saying the work was completed, I signed on to the web site and found a number of options were available to me:
Pictureal created four short videos by grabbing snippets from all the tapes. They used various transitions and other effects, including music, to create some slick professional shorts that I could share by inviting anyone to do so by email.
The completed video, after their edit, ran about 45 minutes. They did what I can never make myself do. They cut my over long tapes into something more easily viewed by others. I may not agree with all the cuts but the finished video looked good. Great transitions, good background music, and, overall, a nice product.
They also make the entire raw footage available on the site should I want to make changes by adding footage that they cut. I elected not to do this due to time constraints.
Pictureal created still images from my video and provided them so I can share with others through their site or use them in the credits, cover, and introduction of the final DVD. I was also able to upload other photos that we had taken on the trips so those could be used instead.
As I mentioned above, emailing authorization to share photos and short videos is a great way to include others who are faraway.
Personalize or Not?
If you want to accept what Pictureal’s editors created you can just move on to the checkout area and order your DVD as well as the shorts, photos, raw footage and any number of DVDs. You can also have them all sent to you or to multiple addresses.
It is best that you personalize the package even if you do not change the actual video. This is so you can edit the opening and closing credits, change any chapter names so they are clearer, and change photos for the cover and DVD label so your “Real Stars” are included. Remember that Pictureal has no clue as to who is in your party and who is the homeless person in the background. Your input is required to make your traveling companions happy. You can also change the background music, the style of the cover, and the overall look of the final product. SEE SAMPLE PAGE
I ordered one DVD of the edited footage. I did change the cover text, photos, and the credits. I received the final DVD yesterday and find it very well done. The Girls will love it!
I have also ‘Shared” the short videos by inviting my daughters to visit my area on the Pictureal site. They had to create a Pictureal account but there is no charge for that. I assume Pictureal is hoping to sell additional copies of the videos.
I feel this is a very good product for anyone who wants their videos and photos to look professional without having to learn how to do it on their own. If you want complete control of the look and feel of your final edits you will have to take the time to learn an editing program.
The first copy of the edited movie costs $35.00. Additional copies are just $15.00 each. The Raw footage including all your mistakes as well as five minutes of shooting out the window of a train is $35.00 with extra copies of the raw footages at $15.00. Adding the short videos created by Pictureal or by you is free.
Pictureal has several pricing plans where you can lock in your savings and select a pre-paid package. The Starter package is a good way to begin. It costs $99.00 (save 21%) that includes 3 hours of video sent to them and one copy of the DVD.
Pictureal is currently running a 14 day free trial offer. You can send your tapes to them and check out their edited products. You must prepay for the service. If you are not pleased with the results you can request a full refund. Go to the Pictureal site for more details on their product and offerings.