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                           REVIEW: Photogenics
                               Jason Compton
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The first thing I noticed about Photogenics was the fact that Almathera is
the only company I've ever encountered with letterhead packing tape.

The second thing was that there was a rather nice t-shirt included.

The first was amusing, the second a thrill (not only do software companies
want to keep me well-stocked with programs, they want to clothe me!  This
is great!) But it was time to actually get to the issue at hand-

Photogenics, the AGA and 24-bit image manipulation package.

Photogenics ships in a rather large, sturdy box with a pull-out binder
that contains the documentation-Almathera clearly is a member of the "big
box" school of packaging, since the included documentation doesn't REALLY
warrant a binder, as it's only 70 pages or so.  But the box does draw
attention to itself, with an attractive Photogenics-generated logo and
large, friendly lettering.

The program itself is contained on three disks, easily installed on your
system.  Note-while the package does NOT require AGA, it DOES require that
you have either AGA or a 24-bit graphics board AND at least Kickstart 3.0.
Almathera only specifies two supported graphics boards-OpalVision and
Picasso II.  I will check with Almathera to see if the unlisted boards are
supported for next issue.  You are also allowed to run the program on
floppy and/or with a scant 2 megs of memory...but do you really want to
mess with 24-bit images that can, depending on how you save them, take up
more than the capacity of a regular floppy, or do you want some real
power?

Photogenics' working environment is much more reminiscent of a paint
program than of an image manipulation package such as ImageFX.  You are
provided with a window full of tools to select, and can load in images in
their own windows.  A substantial difference between IFX and Photogenics,
though, is that you choose from 16, 256, or HAM-8 previews of the image
being worked on.  The HAM-8 preview is astounding...but rather slow.
While you can exclusively work in it if you choose, 256 will be
considerably more comfortable.

Photogenics is designed with a slew of effects to be "painted" onto the
image.  Effects such as AddNoise, Blur, Deinterlace, Emboss, MotionBlur,
Roll, and Tile are all applied by brushes of configurable size and
"pressure", allowing the ultimate control of their outcome.  The brushes
include pencil, chalk pastel, and my favorite, watercolor.  The effects
themselves come with a variety of mode settings to let you do what you
want, quickly and efficiently.

Another of Photogenics' operating quirks is that the area you "paint" with
an effect is that, until you select to Fix your changes with the
appropriate click, the areas you have "painted" can be altered to be any
level or effect you choose, by simply selecting a new mode.  So, if you
decide that the apple would look better Pixelized than Blurred, you just
select Pixelize and it will change accordingly.

The file formats supported by Photogenics are in the vein you would expect
and find most useful-variations on the Amiga IFF/ILBM scheme, JPEG, GIF,
etc.  Another nicety is the ability to load CDXL or QuadAnim (Almathera's
format for Video Creator) frames.  Unfortunately, CDXLs and QuadAnims
cannot be created with this package.  Direct grabbing from V-Lab is also
supported, as is a screen grabber Almathera claims will work on all
video boards.

I consider the easy handling of Alpha and Secondary channels to be
Photogenics' greatest strength.  These "channels" (actually just other
images) are used for effects involving blending or "rubbing through" onto
the main image.  The organization is handled on a thumbnail bar at the
bottom of the screen-each image loaded into Photogenics is represented,
and the appropriate nail can be dragged into the "Alpha" or "Secondary"
box at will.

To round out the package of options, a limited number of antialiased fonts
are included for your works.  They're rather nice, and of course Almathera
is more than happy to tell you where to get more: one of their own
CD-ROMs.

A number of sample images, including three frames from the inception of
the Photogenics logo, are included to get you started and get you through
the tutorial in the manual.

Photogenics is an excellent manipulation package.  Its speed is
considerable on a 4000/040 25mhz.  On the base required system (a stock
A1200) you'll have forgotten what it was you were trying to achieve before
you actually finish.  In terms of functionality, it is not the end-all and
be-all of image processing, but it does an excellent job of applying
effects.  Missing is a more detailed manual (it's not bad, but there was
some room for elaboration) and some sort of ARexx support for a more
integrated image-processing system.  But in general, Almathera has come up
with a winner.

(Taken from the packing tape)
Almathera
Southerton House
Boundary Business Court
92-94 Church Road
Mitcham
Surrey
CR4 3TD
England

+44 081 687 0040 voice
+44 081 687 0490 fax