There are programs with value that greatly exceeds their price

loocas | opinions,software | Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

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There are a few software packages I stumbled upon or have been using for ages which are, at least to me, of a much higher value that what they’re being sold for, which is always a great thing! Here are four I picked from a number of programs I use daily in my work or even for fun and personal enjoyment. It is rare in a high-end DCC world for an app to be worth more than its price tag. Don’t get me wrong, they all are worth their fee, however, at least with some I feel the app delivers more, in a better way or faster or what have you, than it’s supposed to or the developer markets. Here’s my pick for todays encomium:

FrameCycler Professional 2007

I wrote about FrameCycler Professional 2007 before, I really do consider it the best sequence player on the market and that’s one of the reasons I’ll promptly upgrade to the 2008 version, FrameCycler Professional 2007 especially considered the price! For about $200 you get an uncompromised performance packed in a merely 6MB program with all the features you’ve ever dreamed of! The other great thing about this is Iridas, the company that created FrameCycler, their support has been excellent! I had an issue with rendering sequences in FrameCycler on Vista Business x64 (kept on crashing on me). Iridas’ support team assisted me promptly in this matter, which unfortunately didn’t resolve the problem on the Vista platform, but they released an update afterwards which did help. The other great thing about Iridas is their software policy. They let you pick whichever licensing policy is best for you. I chose to go with the per-user licensing, which means I get to pick 5 user names that’ll be able to run FrameCycler on their system. This made FrameCycler available for me 24/7 at home and at work for one price. If it only was for this, it’d make the software worth at least five times as much! I don’t have to go to detailed descriptions of the features, FrameCycler simply delivers more than I’d ever hoped for and for a price that can be considered a bargain!

Iridas FrameCycler site

Camtasia Studio 6.0.1

CamtasiaStudio 6.0 is another of those packages that I simply don’t understand why it’s being sold for $299.00, while its value could be put even above the $500 mark.
Camtasia Studio 6.0.1 Of course, it’s a specialised type of a software that to some may not even be worth the $299 mark. But, considered my videotutorial business, duber.tv, this software pack is all I need/want from a screen recording suite. The real treat was their customer support actually. When I upgraded from Camtasia Studio 5.1 to Camtasia Studio 6.0 I encountered a problem with the Studio suite when accessing and modifying the .camrec files (native Camtasia Studio rich recording format). There was a terrible lag between rightclicks and popup menus as well as drag&drop lagged terribly. When I contacted the support via their on-line form I received an answer e-mail the very next day, and let me stress that I’m not on any maintenance or golden memberships programs with Techsmith. This alone was a very pleasant surprise. But what made me include this software to this top-list of my all times favourite software packages was that the support representative quickly isolated what was causing the problems (some FFD codecs I had installed) and suggested downloading a yet to be released point update of Camtasia Studio 6.0.1, which really did solve the problem for me! Now they’ve got a one loyal and happy customer!

Camtasia Studio 6.0 site

Lightroom 2.1

This one is gonna be a pretty obvious choice. Sure, it’s a very well known and a very well commercialy aimed digital photo editing software, but to me, as an amateur photographer and a VFX artist it’s essential. I can’t think of managing my photos or HDRs just from within Photoshop, Lightroom 2.1 even though Photoshop is my one and primary bitmap editing program. It really plays well with Photoshop CS4, it’s fast and its newly added local exposure and tone mapping tools are just awesome! I use Lightroom 2.1 mainly for handling my Raw files, assembling and combining HDR images and color-mapping/correcting/adjusting my photos. I love the new features that allow me to use DNGs and generally the way Lightroom works is just what I’m after from a specialised piece of software. The price tag of $299 is again a bargain for anyone owning a DSLR. Especially compared to some of the lenses out there :D So, to sum it up, the way Lightroom works, the way I can manage and develop my digital negatives and the way it plays along with Photoshop (especially CS4) and its native 64bit support makes it a must have!

Photoshop Lightroom site

Canopus ProCoder 3

I started to feel the need for an all-purpose transcoding program some time ago when I landed a long-term contract with a local outdoor advertisement company, Dynavision, Canopus ProCoder 3 as well as when I have to manage several video formats that need to be converted to a different video format for delivery. I looked into Autodesk’s Cleaner, but only after discovering Canopus ProCoder 3 I felt in love with this program. Its super simple, fast and easy to navigate user interface and at the same time very robust and powerful transcoding features persuaded me to look at the price, as usually such programs are quite pricey. Canopus doesn’t have an on-line shop like many companies do, they prefer to sell their products through their broad reseller program. So when I compared prices between our local resellers and those in the US, I discovered they differed tremendously, as with everything actually. The EU prices were at least double the US ones. So, I quickly skimmed through the EULAs and bought ProCoder 3 on eBay for $300. It’d be worth it even for the $700 price tag available locally here in the Czech Rep. but if I can, why shouldn’t I take advantage of eBay? ;) ProCoder 3 saves me tons of time and delivers superb quality videos at the lowest file sizes I’ve seen. Besides, I can also use it to transcode regular AVIs or MOVs or even file sequences to a very popular H.264 format for web streaming or portable players playback. Quite frankly, this piece of software paid for itself the very first project I used it on and that, among many other things, makes it one of my top favourite programs for my professional work.

Canopus ProCoder 3 site

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So this is my top four software packages I personally use and consider being of a higher value that they’re being sold for. Obviously, I’ve left out programs like Photoshop or 3ds Max, while being my primary tools for my work, I reckon their price is adequate their value. Even considering that 3ds Max is being sold for twice as much here in the EU as it is in the US and due to the stupid EULA (which might not even be applicable here in the EU) we cannot import 3ds Max or many other Autodesk products from overseas, which sucks ass if you ask me! Autodesk, do something about it, you charge ridiculous amounts of money for software that costs half as much from other companies, or even less. Not counting the stupid subscription policy, but that’s a different story.

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