If you're a Web developer, you're probably starting to offer more multimedia content on your site. The trouble is, multimedia authoring and development tools can be expensive, and it's tough to get supervisors to pay for them when there's not yet a huge audience.

If you want to start dabbling in multimedia on the cheap, here are some programs to help you get started.

Photo Vista. Here's a quick way to place a 360-degree photo on your site that can be seen through a special viewer. Stand in one place and take photos in a circle. Scan in the images.

Download this tool and use it to match up seams in the photos and publish the circular image.

Visitors to your site will need to download a special free viewer to see the image.

A limited trial version is free; the full version is $49. The product, from MGI Software Corp. of Campbell, Calif., runs under Microsoft Windows 9x and Windows NT. Download it from

SnagIt 32-bit. The latest version of SnagIt from TechSmith Corp. of East Lansing, Mich., lets you capture desktop animations, audio and video streams.

It's a great tool for simple editing and manipulation of multimedia. The 45-day version is free; a full copy is $39.95. SnagIt 32-bit works with Win9x and NT.

Download it from

Dubit and Camtasia. While you're at the TechSmith site, also check out DubIt, which lets you dub audio over video clips, edit pre-existing audio and attach sound files to images.

Camtasia lets you record screen actions for later playback via a compressed file. Camtasia is free to download, with a timed expiration. The registration price is $149. DubIt is free if you own SnagIt or Camtasia.

Pick up copies at

Zwei-Stein Video Editor. This tool, from the online company Thugs at Bay Inc., is very powerful for a piece of shareware.

It's a 256-track video editor and compositor that can export files in Real Video and Real Audio formats.

The basic package is free and includes several built-in effects tools. Upgrade to a version that outputs broadcast quality video for $99. It works with Win9x, NT and Windows 2000.

Download it from

'Shawn P. McCarthy

E-mail: [email protected]

The author designs products for a Web search engine provider.


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