Benchmark:Ulead Systems Cool 3D 2.5 Titling Software


3D Titles the Easy Way



Ulead Cool 3D 2.5 Titling Software

($50)

Ulead Systems, Inc.

970 West 190th St. Ste. 520

Torrance, CA 90502

(800) 858-5323

www.ulead.com

Last year, Ulead Systems’ Cool 3D 2.0 was chosen as the "Best Buy" in Videomaker‘s Best Products of the Year (see the story in the February 1999 issue of Videomaker). Cool 3D 2.0 was also reviewed in the October 1998 issue of Videomaker. Now, Ulead has updated the inexpensive, easy-to-use titling software that’s a good fit for anyone from hobbyist to professional, doing nonlinear editing on the Windows platform.

The Basics

Cool 3D is easy enough to use that, after 20 minutes on the program, you already feel like you know how to use it. There are a couple of toolbars at the top of the screen, and a toolbar at the bottom that’s called the EasyPalette. The EasyPalette is the simplest way to get professional-looking results with Cool 3D. The EasyPalette has a number of animated presets that will make your text look cool, without having to be an expert at the program. Of course, after you’ve used the EasyPalette to make a cool-looking title, you’ll want to learn more about Cool 3D to customize your titles so they look exactly the way you imagine them in your head.

Luckily, creating custom titles in Cool 3D 2.5 is almost as easy as using the presets. Using key frames, you can specify exactly how you want your titles to move. You can change the "camera" angle, how the lighting effects hit the titles and how the titles move on the screen.

What’s New

The most obvious new feature in Cool 3D 2.5 is a variety of special effects that Ulead has added to this version. Some of the highlights of these effects are glow, motion blur, 3D frames, an imprinted 3D board effect and a bunch of movement effects. These effects can help add a new level of sophistication. Be careful though: it’s easy to get carried away. You’re likely to start using Cool 3D 2.5 and find yourself with a burning, spinning, flipping, exploding title that is completely unsuitable for use in most of your videos. But that’s ok, because once you get that bug out of your system, you’ll be able to wisely and sparingly use all of these effects to really make your titles stand out.

Another new feature of Cool 3D 2.5 is that it allows you to directly access the DirectX Hardware Abstraction Layer (or HAL for you acronymaniacs) of your video card. In non-nerdspeak, this means that if your video card supports DirectX, you can select this option to make your animations render faster. This is good because rendering time was one of the only complaints we had when we reviewed Cool 3D 2.0. It seems to work too; the heavily-animated test title we rendered took only a couple of minutes on our test machine (350MHz Intel Pentium II, 192MB RAM, 9GB IBM UltraStar SCSI drive, Matrox 6200 video card).*

Finally, Ulead added a feature that helps Cool 3D work its way into video: field-based interlacing. While people using Cool 3D for Web graphics aren’t very interested in creating interlaced graphics, videographers who edit their videos on NLE systems using 60 fields per second will be happy that Cool 3D’s titles will integrate better into their productions.

Are You Cool Enough for 3D?

Cool 3D 2.5 is a great titling program at a price that is comparable to the average video game. Of course, if you aren’t editing nonlinearly, Cool 3D isn’t for you. However, if you’re using an .AVI-based NLE and you want some fancy titles that your editing software’s titler cannot perform, then Cool 3D could be the titling program you’ve been waiting for. Ulead offers a fully-functional, free 15-day trial version of Cool 3D 2.5 on their Web site at www.ulead.com/cool3d/try.htm.

Tech Specs – Ulead Cool 3D 2.5

Platform: Windows

Minimum System Requirements:

Processor: Pentium

Memory: 16MB

Graphics Adapter: 16- or 24-bit color

Operating System: Windows 95/98/NT 4.0

Hard Drive: 65MB free

Recommended System

Processor: Pentium 166MMX

Memory: 32MB

Hard Drive: 80MB free

strengths:

  • easy to use
  • makes good-looking titles
  • lighting controls, animations and special f/x

weaknesses:

  • titles could get "canned" look after a while

summary:

An inexpensive titling program that looks like it should cost a lot more.

–LL

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