Yoostar lets anyone act opposite Hepburn, Brando

You ought to be in pictures, eh? Yoostar might provide your first big break at stardom — at least in your living room or out in cyberspace. This portable movie studio is like karaoke for the movies, featuring real actors and clips from actual movies.

In one scene, I took over Humphrey Bogart's role opposite Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina. In another I assumed Kevin Costner's part (opposite Burt Lancaster) in Field of Dreams. You can be Brando's Don Corleone in The Godfather. Or substitute for Elmo or Grover in Sesame Street.

You can watch scenes on your PC or laptop, or connect the computer to a TV to watch on a bigger screen. What's more, you can upload your screen tests at yoostar.com, and share clips on Facebook, MySpace and elsewhere.

The $170 Yoostar system consists of a remote control, software, a fine USB webcam and stand (that resembles Wall-E), plus a 6- by 6-foot fold-away "green screen" you perform in front of, similar to those used in real studios. With the green screen behind you, Yoostar can place you in a movie the way TV meteorologists appear in front of a weather map.

The accompanying application that you load onto your PC — a Mac version is coming — includes a dozen scenes to start with, plus two more when you register. Movies include Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Forrest Gump, Rocky and Some Like It Hot. You can download additional 99-cent to $3.99 clips at yoostar.com, including Blade Runner, Casablanca and The Ten Commandments. Clip lengths vary and take up about 5 to 7MB each.

Yoostar went on sale last week at Bloomingdale's, with Best Buy to follow Sept. 8. It's also available at Yoostar's website.

I had a grand time and give the concept behind it a thumbs up. Alas, there are enough current drawbacks, to make this an offer you can refuse.

Yoostar requires fairly robust hardware — at minimum a PC with a Pentium 4 class processor (dual core preferred), and a state-of the-art graphics card.

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Moreover, the software is still buggy. Yoostar crashed on the Dell laptop the company lent me. Apparently my video database got corrupted, and tech support had to intervene. Yoostar is still issuing software "patches" to fix bugs and other issues.

The instructions for setting up the green screen were poor — a leg on the stand that holds it inadvertently snapped off.

Still, when working right, Yoostar has box office potential for film fans of all generations. A close-up:

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