Review: Corel PhotoMirage

Corel has been around since Noah decided to buy a fishing rod – with good cause too as it turned out. I remember the company in the 80s and 90s valiantly pushing Corel Draw against the combined might of Aldus / Adobe (and only being DOS / Windows based to boot when in the “creative” arena, the Mac reigned supreme).

Since then, Corel has had a chequered history with acquisitions of such staples as WordPerfect, Pinnacle, Intervideo and ULead.

With their latest application, PhotoMirage, Corel has stayed true to its graphics roots however, and created an elegant, simple to use but very useful program with which to animate photos.

Corel Mirage -1
Figure 1

Interface

The UI of PhotoMirage is quite basic; a single window contains the still image you load up to modify, and a simple set of tools is available on the left hand side to do the business. The most important and most used is the animation section containing an arrow directional / tool and an anchor point tool. When drawing on the image with the arrow tool, depending on the length of the arrow drawn, and its direction, this starts the animation process and its “strength”. Add more arrows and more of the image is animated at varying levels depending on those two factors.

The anchor tool however, lets you “protect” areas from being acted upon by the arrow tool. In Figure 1, the seagull is masked off from the arrows shaping the animation of the surrounding ocean. Similarly, the wall the seagull is sitting on is also protected.

Arrows can be resized, moved and have their directions changed at any time. Arrows and anchor points can be deleted using the rubbish bin tool. Selecting of arrows and anchors can be done individually or by a freehand selection mode using a sort of lasso tool.

Masking can also be added using a brush tool, letting you brush over larger amounts of space with different size brushes and feathering available. The mask tool was used to protect the sky in Figure 1.

To make selections easier, various aspects of the image can be turned on or off using a Visibility areas palette. These include animation markers (arrows and anchor points), by cropping, or turning off the actual image itself and just leaving the animation tools and masks in view.

A “smart photo” tool automatically fine tunes the image with regards to brightness, saturation, sharpness and white balance.

When cropping, there is a whole bunch of presets available letting you correctly set aspect relations for popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on.

Which of course means you can also export directly to these platforms as MP4 files, animated GIFS or WMV files at will via email.

sunset-1

Frame rates can be set as can the number of loops, image size, frame rate and in some circumstances, the CODEC used.

Finally, simply saving creates a file in PhotoMirage’s native format that is non destructive and can be reloaded for later fine tuning.

Practicality

OK, so you are not going to be able to turn a still photo of say, a wave crashing on a beach, into an excerpt of “Morning of the Earth” (look it up!), but nonetheless it is an impressive tool, and with some patience, elegant animations can be created that I can see being useful to the video fraternity in making title slides and credits for example. Much quicker in many cases than full on video.

And for social media buffs, turning a straight image into something more interesting has its appeal as well, making yours stand out among the Instagram / Snapchat crowd.

You can also send animations to Corel’s own PhotoMirage Gallery for inclusion (at their whim of course!). See the chosen materpieces (and maybe get some inspiration) at https://www.photomirage.io/en/gallery/ 

Conclusion

Corel PhotoMirage is easy to learn to get the basics (half a dozen 4 minute on line tutorials and you’ll know it all), but the opportunities are from there endless in creating interesting and unique animations.

And at AUD$99, it won’t break the bank. As with all Corel products, there is a trial, time limited version available at https://www.photomirage.io/en/features/ (but you get the watermark of course).

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