Microsoft Research AutoCollage 2008
Reviewed: Geetesh Bajaj
September 6th 2008
It can often take hours to create the perfect collage using tools in programs like Adobe Photoshop -- and even those may not work all the time. And when you want a quick collage, and don't really have the time to create it -- then you'll really want to look at this new tool called AutoCollage 2008.
AutoCollage 2008 is from Microsoft Research, a part of Microsoft that has six worldwide labs. These labs conduct both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering.
AutoCollage 2008 evolved from their research -- you can learn more about the product and download a free 30 day trial version of AutoCollage 2008 here...
AutoCollage 2008 is a standalone application which allows users to compile a set of photographs into one seamless collage. The output can be printed, used in e-postcards, web pages or desktop backgrounds, or e-mailed to family and friends.
Download the installer, run the setup routine and follow the instructions. You'll end up with a Microsoft Research AutoCollage 2008 program group in your Windows Start menu (see Figure 1 below).
Figure 1: Microsoft Research AutoCollage 2008 Start menu Group
Follow these steps to create your own collage using AutoCollage 2008:
- Go to your Windows Start menu and choose All Programs | Microsoft Research AutoCollage 2008 | Microsoft Research AutoCollage 2008 (see Figure 1 above).
- This opens AutoCollage 2008 interface, as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: AutoCollage 2008 interface
- Select the button on the right side of the Image Browser title bar (highlighted in red in Figure 2).
- This opens a browser window, from where you can choose any folder which has pictures.
Note: The selected picture folder should have at least 7 images -- and these should be moderately high-res images.
- The pictures within the folder will appear inside the AutoCollage interface, as shown in Figure 3. That looks really cool!
Figure 3: Added pictures
- On the right side of the interface, choose Options -- this opens the Options dialog box as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Options
- Here you can change several settings such as input options, face detection, etc. The Output tab provides options where you can choose your collage size from a set of standard output sizes. Once you are done with tweaking, choose the Create button as shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5: Create
- This starts the process of creating the collage, as shown in Figure 6. While the collage is being created, AutoCollage 2008 does a cool revolution animation with all your selected pictures -- almost like the planets revolving around an imaginary sun!
Figure 6: Creating the collage
- Figure 7 shows the collage created by selected pictures.
Figure 7: Output
- Click the Save button to save the collage. To e-mail your collage, click the E-Mail button. You can even set the collage as desktop background, click on the Desktop button to do so.
AutoCollage 2008 costs $19.95 for US customers, and European users need to pay an equivalent of $35. No options to purchase are available yet for users in other geographies yet.
Support is through an online forum and a FAQ.
AutoCollage 2008 is a niche product that does a great job of creating quick and impressive collages.