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7 Essential multimedia tools and their free alternatives

Why spend money on expensive multimedia tools when you can use comparable alternatives for free? They may not be an exact replacement, but how can you argue with the price?

PHOTO EDITING: Photoshop
Free: Splashup

Photoshop may be the industry leader when it comes to photo editing and graphic design, but Splashup, a free online tool, has many of the same capabilities at a much cheaper price. Splashup has lots of the tools you’d expect to find in Photoshop and has a similar layout, which is a bonus for those looking to get started right away. Splashup isn’t the only free online photo editing program, check out this list of 20 more.

WEB DESIGN: Dreamweaver
Free: KompoZer

Looking to create your next web site without paying big money for programs like Dreamweaver? KompoZer, a free web design program available for immediate download, is great for both novice web designers and professional webheads who need more advanced editing features.

VIDEO: Final Cut, Adobe Premiere
Free: iMovie, JayCut

Many video editors, both novice and professional, use iMovie to create professional-looking videos and an amateur price. The program is included on modern Macs as part of the iLife package and has the basic features editors need as well as few advanced extras such as detachable audio and image stabilization. JayCut is an online video editor that lets registered users upload and edit their video for free. You can even add photos, audio and effects to your project. The final edited video can be shared on the web or downloaded directly to a computer.

AUDIO: ProTools, Adobe Audition
Free: Audacity, GarageBand

Audacity is a comprehensive audio editor with many of the capabilities of its costly competitors. The program, which is available for a free download lets users record and edit everything from simple audio tracks to complex professional work. GarageBand, which is included on modern Macs along with iMovie and iPhoto, takes a simple approach to audio editing and has the added capability of creating enhanced podcasts with photos, chapter markers and more. Find even more free audio editing programs here.

SLIDESHOWS: Soundslides
Free: PhotoPeach

Until recently there was no other slideshow tool that could compete upload Soundslides’ flexibility and easy-to-use interface…until now. PhotoPeach lets users upload and order photos using a drag and drop interface, upload an MP3 audio file from a computer, add captions for individual photos and embed the final slideshow anywhere on the net. All this is familiar to anyone who has ever used Soundslides, but PhotoPeach offers all this and more for free, making it a strong substitute for Soundslides.

INTERACTIVE MEDIA: Flash
Free: Effect Generator

Effect Generator, a free online tool, lets anyone create common Flash elements such as slideshows, graphics, and embedded videos. Once you’ve created your effect the generator emails a link where you can access the Flash file you created. The layout differs from Flash and takes some getting used to but is a great alternative, especially for those just starting to learn Flash.

WORD PROCESSING: Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
Free: Google Docs

Many of the programs and tools on this list are substitutions for existing program. With Google Docs, you’ll never want to touch Microsoft Office again. The free online tool lets anyone with a Google account create documents, spreadsheets and presentations as well as share the document for collaborative editing or viewing. Google Docs is accessible from any computer with an internet connection or you can work offline or download your finished work directly to your computer. You can even upload your existing documents into Google Docs.


Also on 10,000 Words:

21 Free online photo editing tools
Where to find free sound effects and royalty-free music
How to edit your video online for free or cheap
How to create, edit and embed audio for free
Essential multimedia tutorials and resources for do-it-yourself training

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