Face Factory

Reviewed by: Robin Nobles, send e-mail
Published by: Ulead Systems, go to the web site
Requires: Pentium processor with MMX Technology 166 MHz; Win 95/98; 32 MB RAM; 2 MB PCI graphics adapter (800x600 resolution, Hi-color, 16 bit); 100 MB free hard disk space
MSRP: $39.95

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work with special effects in a high tech science fiction movie? To be able to rearrange the look of one of your characters with a software program? If so, you'll love Face Factory. With Face Factory, you take two photos of a person - a side view and a front view - and "combine" them to create a 3D head of that person. Then, you can make the head look like an alien or a Russian doll or anything in between. You can animate it or you can send it to Grandma through e- mail. You can use your own photos or play with some heads that come with the program. Your own photos can come from digital cameras, scanners, photos on a floppy disk, video cameras or photos already on your hard drive.

I first tried to install the program on my old computer system (200 MHz with MMX, 64 MB RAM) and I kept getting an error message that said the program had performed an illegal operation and had to be shut down. In order to repair the problem, I needed to download a new driver for my display card. To make matters easier, I decided to install the program on my new system (500 MHz with MMX, 128 MB RAM), and I had absolutely no problems whatsoever. So, if your system is a few years old, you may have to install drivers from Ulead's website.

Before you begin, I highly recommend that you click on the question mark at the top right hand corner of the screen. You're then presented with an easy explanation of the steps required to create your model. The Quick Start Card is also very helpful. To begin, select a front view of your photo. Does the photo need to be edited? No problem! You can remove the background, crop off portions, rotate the head, or tilt the head if its off- center. Once you've finished with the front view, go through the same process with the side view. In order for your 3D head to look realistic, you'll need to align portions of both pictures so that the eyes, ears, and nose are at the same level and match. Now, the fun begins. Click on the red mask on the bottom control panel and your 3D head will be created. You can watch its progress by looking at the picture of the head next to the mask.

The results are absolutely amazing, and there isn't a kid anywhere that wouldn't enjoy this. You can manipulate the head (which appears to be floating around in space!) to where it's larger or smaller, or you can rotate it to see all sides, as if the head were on a platter. Once you've created your 3D head, click on the yellow computer on the bottom control panel and be prepared to feel like you're right in the middle of a sci-fi movie. You can make your head look like an alien or a cube. Turn the head upside down (which is pretty freaky), or make it REALLY big. The special effects are fantastic. And that's not all! You can also create an animated head by utilizing the "Filmstrip" function!

Once you've finished, send your creation to a friend through e-mail, post it on your web site, or create a personalized screen saver. You can download a free trial version of Face Factory at Ulead's web site. If you're looking for family entertainment, Face Factory is definitely it! It's just plain high tech fun!

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