In the world of gaming and movies, 3D is the latest thing and it can look spectacular, given the correct treatment. It's even made its way out of the cinema and into everyday life, with some manufacturers beginning to build 3D functions into cameras and lenses. Roxio Creator 2011 takes this progression to its logical conclusion, adding a handful of tools and features to its media suite in a bid to help home users create their own 3D content.
In terms of discrete tools, the first you're likely to play with is the 3D photo editor. Fire it up from the familiar Roxio dashboard and you get a simple dialog allowing you to either convert an existing 2D image, or import left and right-eye images and output an old-fashioned anaglyph cyan/red JPEG file.
Results are mixed: the former method adds a subtle separation effect that sometimes creates a feeling of depth, and sometimes doesn't; the latter is more fiddly, but ultimately more successful, allowing you to take two shots of the same scene - slightly offset from one another - then adjust the separation in a separate window.
The bundled Roxio CinePlayer also converts 2D movies (up to 720p, but not beyond) to anaglyph 3D on-the-fly. As with the 2D photo conversion, however, it struggles to impart a feeling of depth.
Elsewhere, things get advanced, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the VideoWave movie editor. Here you can import 2D and convert to 3D, or import ready-made 3D footage, edit it as you would a standard 2D video, then export it. Instead of just anaglyph, however, you can output to a variety of industry-standard 3D formats: from standard side-by-side and one over the other, to interlaced 3D ready for playback on a 3D projector. There's even the option to upload directly to YouTube 3D.
It's interesting, and fun for a while too, and if 3D cameras were mainstream we could see the point; after all, there's no other consumer video editor we've seen that offers this feature. Alas, they aren't, and the other 3D features are little more than playthings; they'll divert your attention for a while, but you'll quickly lose interest.
Fortunately, Creator 2011 isn't only about 3D. Another major addition is the Roxio Streamer feature. This adds a DLNA-compatible server to your PC that's tied into an online service, giving you the ability to stream content directly from one PC over your local network to DLNA-compatible devices such as games consoles and media streamers, but also over the internet to other PCs, with 2GB of online storage thrown in for free. You'll also be able to access your files via Android smartphones and the Apple iPhone; alas, the latter feature is part of the premium service, and after 30 days you'll be asked to pay a £15 annual subscription.
Video stabilisation and rotation has been added to the video-editing application, improving an excellent tool further, while iPad export presets have been inserted all round too. And, of course, you still get the audio editor, drag and drop media converter, simple audio editing and beat-matching, an online video capture tool, a revamped file backup utility and much more.
Opt for the Pro version and you get more advanced file backup, an automatic soundtrack generation tool for your home videos, the Bias SoundSoap audio noise-reduction plugin, and Blu-ray authoring tools. Surprisingly, the rather excellent photo editor, LightZone, has been removed this time around.
It's an awful lot of software at an impressively low price, but we can't shake the feeling that Roxio could have done a whole lot more with this release had it not concentrated on the frivolous 3D features.
Blu-ray playback still requires a $40 plugin, whether or not you buy the more expensive Pro version. And the user interface of the individual applications is in desperate need of an overhaul. Here, Roxio's insistence on employing its own file open/save dialog boxes continues to baffle and annoy.
There's nothing wrong with Roxio Creator 2011 as a whole. If you need video editing, audio, burning, conversion, capture and playback tools, and you want them all in one package then it won't disappoint. But we don't yet see the addition of the 3D tools as a compelling reason to buy (quite apart from the fact they don't work brilliantly all the time), and with rival Nero introducing its Video Premium HD package soon, which includes Blu-ray playback and editing as standard, the reasons to go for Roxio are set to be eroded even further.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk