Support Your local software developer: QMedia

by Alan Zisman (c) 1995. First published in Our Computer Player, May 1995

Q-Media ver 2.0 Multimedia Presentation Software
$199 (CDN list price)
Q/Media Software Corporation
312 East 5th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5T 1H4
fax 604-879-0214

Buried deep in the heart of Vancouver's Mount Pleasant is Q/Media Software... ignoring the battles between the yuppies and the hookers for the future of their community, they've been quietly working on a software package to merge the promise of multimedia with the reality of business presentations.

Multimedia is hot-- more and more home computers come equipmented with sound card+ cd-rom player, and more and more games demand that sort of hardware. But it still has to make much of an impact on the business world beyond making it easier to install big software packages on cd-rom.

Meanwhile, presentation software packages aimed at the business community continue to sell, making it easy to produce slide-shows for sales pitches and the like. It's a natural extension to think of adding sound and video to these, and in fact, most of the current generation of presentation packages, such as Lotus Freelance or Microsoft PowerPoint make some token efforts in these directions.

The wizards of East 5th Avenue want to take you further. Q-Media, now in version 2, promises to make it easy to design a presentation around multimedia elements, and to add these to your existing presentations.

Q-Media takes up 9 megs or so of drive space, and includes 500 megs of multimedia samples on an accompanying  DigiClips cd-rom disk. It installs easily, and includes an unistall program (something I wish all Windows developers would think of!)

Unfortunately, it's not as intuitive to use as I would have hoped... lots of icons without labels, for example. There's an icon-list in the help file, but it's hard to track down what an icon means in the slim printed documentation.

Add a few tools and you get a very busy screen-- this programs cries out for a large monitor running at a resolution higher than vga's 640x480 so you can see everything on-screen at once.

And there's the Clip List... this lets you import all sorts of media objects, then drag and drop them into your presentation-- but it's awkward to find and use. The program doesn't support direct import right into your presentation. (And by the way guys, calling a presentation a "movie" makes it easy to confuse with a multimedia video-clip... especially since Apple's Quicktime also refers to its video-clips as movies).

Finally, while the program suggests you can built on existing presentation software files, I found that I could only use my Lotus Freelance files by exporting each frame individually as a Windows Metafile... Q-Media wouldn't import a whole presentation.

Still, after a steeper learning curve that I would have liked, Q-Media comes through on its promises. Some adjustments to the TimeLine, addition of some transition effects, and you've got a nice presentation, merging text, graphics, sound, video, and animation.

And the program supports easy-to-add buttons and links... this lets the user jump around the presentation-- even jump to particular points in a single video clip. This interactivity is a big advantange for training materials, or kiosk presentations. With its Photo-CD support, it could even serve as a front end for a user-friendly family photo album.

A run-time disk is included, letting you share your presentation around to users and machines that don't have the whole Q-Media package. Watch out, however, multimedia items can get pretty big pretty fast-- especially digitized sound and video. While I can currently fit a DOS-based runtime of my Freelance presentation onto a single floppy disk, this isn't an option with its multimedia successor.

Despite some awkwardness, Q-Media is a reasonably-priced and powerful way to employ the full range of media in business and home presentations.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan