Video Jam. (music video studio software for children) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Peter Scisco
If Steven Spielberg were a kid today, he'd probably be using a computer and a camcorder to make movies, rather than the 8-mm camera he started with. And no doubt he'd be watching music videos for ideas and encouragement. Kids love movies and music, and Video Jam brings both together in a clever and creative program for ages 8 and up.
Video Jam uses a real studio as its inspiration. Kids must first select the music for their video, then add actors, scenery, and props. They can fine-tune their creations with special effects and movements, all to the beat of the music.
Creating a cartoon video is a lot simpler in this program than in real life, and all the right elements are here. Given some time, creative license, and encouragement, kids will astonish their parents with some jammin' videos that are as much fun to watch as they are to make.
The program includes 52 synthesized songs covering a variety of genres, from rock to rap and from western classical to international Audiophiles may wish for sampled MIDI tunes, but the synthesized music appeals to kids and suits a greater number of sound cards, without requiring special audio equipment. The only drawback is that there's no way to import your own music.
As many as 7 of the 46 cartoon characters, ranging from hip cats to huggable dinos, can be used in each video. Each character has an individual dance move. Kids
can enliven the dance moves with special effects and transitions, which can be previewed before making them a final part of the video.
While not as complex as a multimedia computer studio, Video Jam provides simple and exacting controls for music video editing. Actors can be made to appear at specific times in the music. Using special effects, kids can morph-transition one character into another. Beginning video directors can combine the program's collection of props with particular actors and backgrounds in order to tell stories.
Each video can be saved to the program's video library (stored on the computer's hard disk) or saved to a floppy disk. Kids can share their video creations with friends by passing along the floppy disk, which includes a program that will play the video, even if Video Jam isn't installed on the other computer (the player computer must meet the basic requirements of Video Jam).
Creativity tools for kids are some of the most fascinating and potentially rewarding embodiments of computer technology. Video Jam will let your kids make an impressive directorial debut.