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SmashMash: Uber online media editor

Site advertises "more power than you'll ever use," and actually delivers it.

SmashMash is a new multifaceted visual editor. It can add motion to still photos, create slide shows, and edit videos and audio. A hybrid app (it can work inside a browser but uses a large plug-in), SmashMash is impressive for its capabilities, although in this early beta stage it's hard to actually make attractive content with it, and it's a bit buggy.

But it's got amazing potential. Just messing around? Take your still photos of people, make their lips move (see also Blabberize), and put words in their mouths. Or take a bunch of slides and create a Ken Burns-like slide show. You can insert videos in your productions and can do basic editing on them (compare to JumpCut). You can record videos and audio from a Webcam and you can apply and modify transitions between your media clips.

SmashMash can make letters (or heads) nod, rotate, wag, pulse, wander and blink.

If you want to really get creative, you can even start from scratch and create your own animations. SmashMash's drawing tools are rudimentary, but easy enough to use if all you're trying to make are stick figures.

There is more media editing power in SmashMash than most people will ever need, and it's a more open experience than any online editor I've seen. Unfortunately, at this point you can't take advantage of much of the power without either crashing the app or watching it slow to a crawl. I hope to see the bugs fixed soon, of course. More importantly, the app also needs templates to help users start out. While advanced users won't want to be constrained by anyone else's idea of what their projects should look like, we all have to start somewhere in an editing tool like this one, and having framing into which we can install our own media would make the early experiences with SmashMash more likely to generate subsequent visits. For beginners who want to create montages or slide shows, in fact, I'd recommend they steer clear of SmashMash and head over to OneTrueMedia or RockYou.

A timeline editor lets you manage photos, music and video in your presentations.

However, if you want more freedom to gussie up your photos or videos, or you want to experiment with animation or other strange moving manipulations of your media, do check out SmashMash. There's really nothing quite like it.

SmashMash will have three versions: A lightweight, Web-only photo editor, a more capable full media editor that's browser based, and a download that will eventually cost $19 (it's free now). All of them will interface with the SmashMash servers for hosting of media, and SmashMash will provide embedding codes so presentations can be inserted into social network pages. Users will also be able to save their files, as videos, to their own hard disks.

SmashMash CEO Michael Land will pitch the product at the San Francisco New Tech Meetup on January 9.