Capzles is a relatively new free site that lets you create entertaining social photo story lines very easily. You could call them slideshows or photo stories, but really they are a whole level above the Flickr slideshows I was talking about last time.
The site has been running for about a year, and went public a few months back. Since then they’ve been adding capability to the product. It’s looking good. They even have a scanning service to convert all those old prints into a digital stream.
I like the layout of the site. I’m not so sure about some of the things that happen on the page. For instance, in Firefox 3, Ctrl-Tab doesn’t work any more, and neither does the scroll wheel on my mouse, at least in the main part of the page. I’m running on Vista if that make any difference to you.
Membership of the site is free, but requires the usual collection of personal information to get in. After you’ve got through that, click the blue Create button and then New Capzle to get started.
You can add an impressive stack of stuff to your Capzle. But it’s easier to do than to describe, so let’s get started.
First, the content. Click the button, and choose the directly option. You can try out the stacked and blogging settings later. The idea here is that you are creating a timeline, and putting items in place on the line.
Capzle wants you to have the files with you, so if they are on Flickr, for instance, you’ll need to download them first. Browse to the files, select them all, and upload them to the site.
The most common use of Capzles is to capture a sequence of events, so you’re going to be forced to put up with my trip to Melbourne for Christmas. No one ever said it was easy.
Now you’re in edit mode with an untitled Capzle in place. Let’s set a few things. Top left in the menus is the Add Title & Description option. Go ahead and click that.
Set the title and description as you please. You can choose from what must be the wackiest font list I’ve seen in a while, and colour it as you please. You can see that the title in the main area changes as you tinker. Eventually”¦ hey, pay attention”¦ eventually you’ll get sick of fiddling with that.
We’ll go through and set some more things, but first we should have a look at how the result is going. Click the I’m Finished button, top right, and you can preview the result. You can click Edit Capzle to return to this design view any time. Go on, you deserve it. This is the view other folk will see of your work, but with more controls in place.
In preview mode you have a control panel in the centre of the page, and you can also use your mouse to move around. Try holding the mouse over an image, and clicking on it.
The control panel consists of six buttons. The magnifying glass controls the size of the images, as you might expect. The four centre buttons are used by holding the mouse button down over them, causing the stream of images to scroll to the left or right. The final button is for the soundtrack volume. More on that later.
Back to design mode now”¦ We need to change some more settings.
Just quickly”¦ the Tags and Categories section in the menu will let you set some metadata for your show, and make it easier for other folk to find your work.
We’re now heading for the Design Your Capzle option.
That’s where we make some sweeping changes to the look of the production. You can choose from a substantial list of themes in the list. As a photographer I don’t want anything too overpowering back there, but if you’re the day-glow-pink-bling type you can find something in here too, I think.
You can also click the design it myself tab at the top and make more controlled changes if you like, including the choice of a single colour background or some sort of gradient. You can also upload a background image if you are possessed so inclined. Fiddle with this until you are happy with the result.
The playlist option lets you choose a background track for your visitors to enjoy while they look at your shots.
Click the upload button, choose one or more tracks, and upload them.
Two to go”¦
Set the privacy level of the Capzle in the next section. Be a grown-up, and consider whether anyone will be offended by what you’re doing. Good.
Now the best part. Share the Capzle. There are essentially two ways to do this.
First off you can click the Send to Friends button, and get Capzles to do the heavy lifting for you. I’m not fond of that option, purely because my paranoia kicks in. I don’t want to send the Capzles folk a list of my friends’ email addresses. it’s not them. It’s me.
The other option is to grab the URL for your Capzle, and send it to them yourself. I’d do that.
So in the end, we’ve fairly easily constructed a complex timeline. You might have noticed though that what we finished with isn’t a slideshow in the traditional sense. Navigation is the responsibility of the user. That’s great for your friends at school or work, but it’s not going to work for Granny. She’s just not a Web 2.0 girl, and you know it. So think about what works best for you audience.
Visitors have all the main controls at their hands, but they can’t edit any of the info. That’s just as well, because they missed out on the trip, right? So they’ll be jealous.
The Capzles folk tell me that both an automated play option and a Flickr import are in the wind. I look forward to both options.
I’m curious. Do you prefer this approach to a standard slideshow? Who would your audience consist of? What other options have you tried?