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Video Editing Software Review: Ulead VideoStudio 3.0

Video Editing Software Review: Ulead VideoStudio 3.0

A good, low-cost nonlinear editing program with nice-looking effects.

Nonlinear Home Movies

Nonlinear editing is becoming more popular everyday, which means prices are dropping and new programs are arriving. Many of the new, low-cost nonlinear editing programs are aimed at the home video hobbyist. Not to be outdone, Ulead has released VideoStudio 3.0, a low-cost nonlinear editing program aimed at just that market.

Aimed at the beginner and casual hobbyist, VideoStudio 3.0 has a nicely designed GUI (graphic user interface), as well as all of the features necessary to create a smooth, professional-looking video. The program includes many digital and 3D effects, animated titles and separate audio tracks for voice-over and background music.

VideoStudio 3.0's interface has a timeline on the bottom third of the screen. The timeline can be changed to a storyboard view, which makes the program a bit more versatile. We found ourselves using the timeline function most of the time, though. The top two thirds is divided into a nice, fairly large preview screen in the center with an options panel on the left and the library on the right. Across the top are buttons corresponding to the steps you take to produce your show (Start, Capture, Storyboard, Effects, Title, Voice, Music, and Finish). As you press each button, the GUI changes to offer the options related to that task. This presents a nice, intuitive way to organize your editing tasks.

Getting Started

VideoStudio is a software-only package. You must have a video capture board already installed to get your footage into your computer. According to Ulead, VideoStudio will work with any capture boards. We tested the program with the Matrox Rainbow Runner, which was already installed on our system (a 133MHz Pentium with 32MB of RAM and a Seagate Cheetah wide SCSI-2 hard drive for video capture).

Installation was very simple and took about 10 minutes. When we opened VideoStudio and started a new project to capture video, the program asked us to select a project template. We looked over the list and noticed that none of the choices were full screen (the largest available was 352x240 at 29.97 fps). To solve the problem, we went to the companion Video Wizard program (installed with VideoStudio) and easily captured our footage as an MJPEG file at 704x480 with a 6.6:1 compression ratio (which was the highest offered). Of course, the capture quality will depend on the capture board installed in your system. The Video Wizard is a very simple capture and editing program. Ulead suggests making a rough cut of your show in Video Wizard and then importing it to VideoStudio to add effects, graphics and audio.

After capturing our footage, we opened VideoStudio and the file names of the footage we just captured were listed in the Recent File list. We opened the list and our clips appeared in the library. From there, we just dragged the shots we wanted into the timeline in the order we wanted. The clips were easy to view and trim by just double clicking on them, either on the timeline or in the library. To the right of the timeline is a button that opens the file directories on your computer and will allow you to add new clips directly into the timeline without first loading them into the library. This can save a bit of time when you have a finished clip ready to be dropped into the timeline.

Finishing Touches

After putting our clips in order and trimming them, we were ready to add effects. Drawing on its experience with the MediaStudio line of nonlinear editing software, Ulead has included numerous transition effects with VideoStudio 3.0. The effects range from simple fades and wipes to high-quality explosions and 3D effects. The effects are easy to apply. Just pick an effect from the library, drag it to the timeline and drop it between two clips. The program gives a graphic display of what the effect will look like, both in the library and on the timeline (or storyboard).

Titles were just as easy to add. We clicked the Title option, moved to the clip on the timeline that we wanted to superimpose the graphic onto, then just typed the title in the preview window. VideoStudio will use any TrueType font installed on your computer. By simply pressing buttons, you have all the usual text controls, including bold, italic, underline, justify, font size and color. Also available are easy-to-use motion options.

There are two tracks of audio on the timeline, one for voice and one for background music. Once again, adding audio is just a matter of dragging and dropping a clip from the library or by using the add media button and adding files directly. VideoStudio uses standard .WAV audio files, so you can create voiceovers and other audio with your sound card. You can also add music directly from a CD by using the CD-ROM in your computer.

Finishing the program renders all of the files you created and makes a finished AVI file of your movie.

The VideoStudio is an enjoyable to use nonlinear editor for the average home video hobbyist. The program allows users the same steps as prosumer and professional editors and many of the same effects.

--Jim Martin

Tech Specs

Ulead VideoStudio 3.0 Nonlinear editing software
Platform: PC
Minimum System Requirements
Processor: Pentium or above
Display: 16-bit at 800x600 pixels
Memory: 32MB
Drives: 80MB of available hard disk space; CD-ROM
Operating system: Windows 95/98/NT4.0

Recommended System
Processor: Pentium MMX
Memory: 64MB
Display: 24-bit at 800x600 pixels
Accessories: Windows-compatible video capture board; Windows-compatible sound card

Strengths

  • Switchable between timeline and storyboard format
  • Many high-quality effects
  • Easy to make titles

Weaknesses

  • Had to capture footage in Video Wizard first

Summary
A good, low-cost nonlinear editing program with nice-looking effects.

Ulead VideoStudio 3.0 Nonlinear Editing Software
($100)
Ulead Systems
970 W 190th Street Suite 520
Torrance, California 90502
(800) 858-5323
www.ulead.com

Tags:  May 1999
Joe
McCleskey
Sat, 05/01/1999 - 12:00am