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FlipTrack puts your slideshows to music

Video-sharing site FlipTrack lets you create your own slideshows with special effects. The only catch is the karaoke-style music.

Video-sharing sites like YouTube, Grouper and Revver, are hugely popular because they let everyone around the world watch sleepy kittens, as well as to save favorite videos and leave snarky comments. Sites like JumpCut take the interactivity a step further with tools for creating your own videos from a variety of source materials. FlipTrack is a similar new service that lets you start with one of their prerecorded music tracks, add your own photos, tweak the special effects, and publish your creation to their Web site.

For creating videos from photos, FlipTrack works similarly to JumpCut, except that it requires a downloadable client that's somewhat resource-intensive. There's no help included with the client aside from tooltips, so you'll basically have to figure out how to use it on your own. First, you select a song from the FlipTrack catalog. Then, you add the photos you want along the song's timeline. Add effects like pan, zoom, and crop for any of the included photos, then simply hit "Upload" to publish your video to the FlipTrack site. You can see my Burning Man 2006 slideshow, accompanied by the Emerson, Lake, & Palmer classic "Lucky Man" (which is somehow the lone '90s song from FlipTrack, even though it was recorded originally in 1970). You can also easily embed your finished product in your blog or any other Web page.

The slide effects are easy to implement and the detailed timeline includes the song's lyrics, letting you micromanage transitions right down to the beat of the song and specific lyrics. (Did you notice how I synced up the sleepy child on the ladybug pillow with the phrase, "So he laid down and died"? I rule.)

The huge catch to all of this fun, however, is that FlipTrack lets you use only the very limited music in its library. Worse yet, all the songs are provided by Song Choice, a karaoke-music provider. You might be happy to see Blondie's "The Tide is High" in the catalog, but trust me--that's not Debbie Harry singing.

Though it took a bit of wrangling to even learn how to use the FlipTrack software, I really liked the customizable timeline, and the ability to pan and zoom, especially in comparison with JumpCut's somewhat random effects. However, the extra software and the inability to use your own music is a huge factor to consider. JumpCut lets you upload your own music and do all of the video editing directly from your browser.

In addition, despite using high-resolution pictures, the final slides in the FlipTrack video look too grainy for my taste. Even though I can't tweak my equivalent Burning Man 2006 slide show on JumpCut to the same level of detail as I can with FlipTrack, the quality of the images seems superior. But most importantly, I get to use the Bee Gees!