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Sunday, January 06, 2008

The 15 essential Freeware Software Programs you should download immediately

The 15 essential Freeware Software Programs you should download immediately:
It's the start of the year, and what better way to begin 2008 than with a round-up of the best Freeware out there waiting to be downloaded. The 15 programs below are all fully functioning versions of Free software with no expiry time-limits or annoying pop-up ads. They have proven to be reliable and secure - in many cases such as Blender, Firefox and IrfanView they have shown themselves to be outstandingly dependable.

1: Blender 3D: A Free Open Source 3D modelling and animation software. Import/Export to 3DS, OBJ, LWO, DXF, VRML, Collada and others. Files can be saved in native .blend format which saves all data including animation IPO's, models, armatures, materials, etc.
Softbody and hardbody Physics integration. Blender also includes Game Creation ability and creation of .exe format games.
Inbuilt renderer is very fast and good but Blender also supports other external renders such as Yafray. Very good UV unwrapping abilities. Includes a very competent video/audio sequencer editor that supports FFMPEG and export to many formats. Think MAYA/3DS MAX but with some more extras and zero pricetag!

2: The Gimp: Free Open Source image manipulation/editor. Basically a free version of Photoshop! Supports unlimited layers, alpha channels, multiple export formats.

3: Audacity: Free Open Source audio editor/recorder. Export to Wave, Ogg, MP3 formats. Multiple effects and filters. Rip audio CD's.

4: Psycle: Audio creation tracker. Uses VST plugins. Exports to WAV format.

5: IrfanView: Free Image viewer/editor. Supports multiple formats such as the usual Targa, PNG, JPEG, BMP formats as well as video files such as MPEG, Quicktime .MOV, WMV, etc. Supports creation of .Exe slidshows and presentations. Image editing not nearly as extensive as The Gimp but you quickly crop, resize images with ease.

6:Super: Free Video converter. Convert and play many video file formats and convert files to multiple formats such as DVD, MPEG, Quicktime .MOV, AVI, DivX, PSP, iPod, etc.

7: PDF Xchange Viewer: Free PDF viewer/editor. Read, edit and create PDF files the easy way! Faster than Adobe Acrobat.

8: Deep Burner: Free DVD burner software. Simple interface but fully featured. Create Data, Audio or ISO DVD's.Create and Print disc labels, booklets or DVD case inserts using a number of presets. More reliable than NERO.

9: Terregen: free (for personal use only) terrain generator. Creates photo-realistic landscapes and worlds. You can animate the sky, water and camera movements through created worlds and export to .BMP format. These .BMP's can be converted to image sequences using Blender or VirtualDub.Terregen 2 supports import of 3D models in Wavefront OBJ format.

10: Open Office: Free Open Source word processor, PDF creation, etc. More advanced than Microsoft Word/Works/Excel.

11: PDF Creator: Free PDF creation - as simple as that. Convert any file to PDF format.

12: 7Zip: Free file compression software. Open .Zip, .Rar , etc formats. Save to .7zip format whcih has advanced compression capabilities.

13: Voodoo Camera Tracker: Free (for non-commercial use) software for match-moving filmed footage. In human language this means that you can film something using a handheld camera, import the sequence into Voodooo (first you must convert your raw footage into Targa .TGA format stills using the Free VirtualDub program) and then the program will match the camera movements and form a cloud of vertex dots simulating the 3D re-constructed world scene. This data can be imported into Blender from which you can combine your real world footage with artificial 3D objects. You could pay $1000's for a similar commercial program - but why bother when Voodoo does a wonderful job for nothing!

14: Firefox: Free Open Source Web Browser. Better and safer than Internet Explorer - so much so that the latest version of IE copied Firefox's tabbed browsing. Less likely to catch a nasty virus using Firefox than it's commercial rivals.

15: Make Human: Free Open Source 3D human model creator. Similar to commercial program “Poser”. Essential for those who are no good at modelling! You can create a realistic human figure by simply moving sliders and pose it. Export the 3D model to Blender in Wavefront .OBJ or Collada format. Previous versions, I found, used a too complex mesh which wasn't particularily suitable for animation (too many vertices). But this latest build uses a lower density mesh while retaining accurately posable edge loops.

Didn't quite make it....
There are many other great Free programs availbale for download jsut waiting to be discovered. I could not possibly list them all but here is just a sample of some:

Paint.Net: Free image editor/creator. Similar to The Gimp but more simplified and faster.

Wax: free audio/Video editor/Compositor. Originally a plug-in for Sony Vegas but now can be used as a standalone editor. Lots of different filters and effects. I've found it to be a bit troublesome at times - especially at rendering. Try it and see what you think. The guy who designs it, Satish Kumar, has also created a number of other great free programs such as "Wink" and "WinMorph" featured below).
Go to and check out this program and more.

Wink: A Free presentation program that records screen capture and exports in Shockwave flash (SWF) and avi format files.

WinMorph: Free image morphing software. From the maker of Wax and Wink.

WinDV: Free video recording software for importing DV footage to computer. Fast and reliable.

VirtualDub: Free Video/Audio sequencer editor. Combine your audio and video and exprt to AVi format. Many filters and effects.Very Fast. Main use is for converting recorded to footage to .TGA format sequence for import to Voodoo Camera tracker.

Not Free but Great!

Getright: file download manager. Fully functioning Trial available (which does not expire).

Deep Exploration: 3D Model convertor/viewer. Convert to/from multiple formats with many settings. View and Convert image/video/html/txt files too. Trial available at After 14 days the trial version disables save feature but still allows you to open and view all files.

Free - but be very wary....

Jahshaka: Video/Audio editor and compositor. Free with a well designed interface but very buggy. Crashes an awful lot. Do not depend on this program to get the job done!

And Finally for those in need of a complete Operating System to use instead of Windows...

Don't forget Ubuntu - the Open Source operating system! Go to the site and fill in the simple form and you will be posted a CD containing the operating system which you can install on your computer. And it's completely Free (don't even have to pay for psot and packing) !

Think of any software you think is worthy of appearing on the Dwarefd Films Essential list?
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