Web Site Hosts Talking Photos

SAN FRANCISCO (06/14/2000) - To add a little multimedia twist to your digital greetings, try sending talking photos. You'll find the easy-to-use tools on a new Web site, DotPhoto.com.

There you can store images and sound, without having to download RealPlayer or other specialized software. Then you can share your work with friends, present them to business clients, and print pictures.

Getting started is easy: Just register at the site by entering your name, e-mail address, and a password. DotPhoto Inc. offers a tour around the site, including a little multimedia demonstration.

You'll need a digital camera or a scanner to produce the digital photos for your album, and you'll upload and store your photos on DotPhoto's server. You can set up as many different albums as you'd like; DotPhoto imposes no storage limit. With on-site tools, you can arrange the order of images in each album.

Then the fun begins. Just speak into your PC's microphone to annotate each picture. You do need to download a plug-in, which takes less than a minute, says Glenn Paul, DotPhoto president and chief executive. As a demonstration, Paul offers a view of his daughter, accompanied by her joking voice. The sound is clear, but the images take several seconds to load for viewing, and they're much clearer in the likes of Adobe Photoshop.

The next step is showing off your work to family or friends. You can give your guests passwords so they can peek into the albums of your choice--but they can't edit them. You can continue to change and update your work, but you can't currently transfer pictures among members' albums. Paul suggests your whole family can share one account for "group editing" of photos.

You can also invite viewers by using your address book on DotPhoto's site to send e-mail instructions. Or, Paul suggests another trick: send yourself an invitation to view your own album. Use that link in any Web page. When anyone clicks on it, they can view your album on DotPhoto. For example, businesses can put a product directory or any multimedia presentation on the site for easy distribution, and send the link to clients for viewing any time.

Printing Services Supported

The site offers tools to move your pictures off the Web, as well. DotPhoto can print and mail you a favorite digital photo. Delivery can be by standard or express mail.

The advantage of printing selectively is that you can pick and print only the photos you want in exactly the size you choose. The company guarantees that you can't tell the difference between a DotPhoto print and a print made from a film negative.

A one-year membership costs US$4.99 and includes 36 4-inch-by-6-inch prints, free shipping for the first order, a free lens cleaning kit, and a PC microphone.

You can find photographic inspiration at DotPhoto as well. The site features photo shows and tips from pro photographers. Anticipating broadband and wireless technology, Paul plans to add digital video and chat room functions.

The DotPhoto site may not be the only one to support voice annotation, but it touts its service as among the easiest. It's newer than competing photo sites like PhotoPoint, Zing, and Photoclub, which offer a variety of photographic novelties as well.

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