Digital Workshop – Illuminatus Opus review

multimedia / presentation authoring tool
Photo of Digital Workshop – Illuminatus Opus
£99.95

Illuminatus Opus is the successor to Digital Workshop’s very popular multimedia authoring tool, Illuminatus 4.5. It’s ideal for creating anything from a simple slideshow of your holiday pictures to a full-blown corporate presentation or even an educational quiz game.

Opus takes what was already a wonderfully powerful and versatile package and adds support for more audio and visual filetypes, enhanced animation features, vector drawing tools and more besides. In common with its predecessors, the program uses the metaphor of a book to represent a presentation. To the individual pages within this book you can add background graphics, text, pictures, sound and video clips, buttons, text input boxes, live Web pages and more besides, in order to build up slick and sophisticated presentations. Many of these elements can be interactive, or animated, or can appear or disappear through a variety of weird and wonderful transitions.

One of the features new to Opus is support for Microsoft Office file types, so it’s now possible, for instance, to incorporate a Word document directly into a presentation. MP3 and ASF formats have been added to an already impressive list of audio file types which can be assigned to specific pages or actions, and it’s also now possible to specify that some parts of background images can be transparent, allowing you to create applications with exotically shaped program windows.

Another improvement is that it’s also now possible to output a presentation as a single executable file – in previous versions such files always had to be accompanied with resource files. Alternatively you can export presentations for use on the Web.

Perhaps the single most notable improvements, however, are in the animation department. While it was possible to animate objects before, you can now draw paths for animated objects to follow, or use a timeline to dictate the animation of an object, rather than simply having it run through a pre-set animation sequence.

The program interface has been subtly tweaked and improved, and wizards are cleverly used to simplify common operations such as creating new pages, publishing a presentation for use as a screensaver and so on. The result is that, while with applications of this type there’s always something of a learning curve, with Opus it’s a gentle one. The software is easy enough to use anyway, but the comprehensive 400+ page manual is excellently written too, so creating a slick presentation is a remarkably painless operation.

Company: Digital Workshop

Contact: 01295 258335


Verdict
Opus is a pleasure to use, with an interface that's much simpler than, for instance, Macromedia Director. From a features point of view it's hardly lacking either. Best of all, Opus is a great deal cheaper than its rivals. Whatever type of multimedia application you wish to produce, it will do the job admirably.