Benchmark: IMSI Lumiere Video Studio 2.0

NLE Lite

Since the early days of the desktop video craze (way back in the early 1990s), prices for nonlinear editing software packages have dropped dramatically. It used to be difficult to find any nonlinear editing software for under $500. Most that you could find were difficult to operate and only good for low-resolution multimedia work. Now, as IMSI’s $80 Lumiere 2.0 nonlinear editing software shows, the power of nonlinear editing has truly found a price that the masses can afford. (Note: version 1.0 of Lumiere was reviewed in the October 1997 issue of Videomaker.)

Targeted at beginning nonlinear video editors, Lumiere is a full-featured package with some controls and capabilities that just might make a seasoned video professional do a double-take. Though a closer examination reveals considerably less editing power and refinement than you’ll find in Adobe Premiere, Ulead MediaStudio or in:sync Speed Razor, there’s plenty for the serious video hobbyist to work with. Lumiere is capable of 24-bit color depth and a maximum output resolution of 800×600 pixels–more than enough for high-quality videotape production. Its hefty selection of filters, transitions and effects (both audio and video) make it an excellent choice for the video hobbyist looking to go nonlinear on a budget.

At First Glance

When you first open Lumiere, you’ll find an interface that looks very similar to a number of other nonlinear editing packages. A timeline holds two main tracks for video and audio clips complete with a transition track and up to 99 tracks each for video and audio overlays. When you import a video clip into the timeline, it appears as a solid bar on the video track with the name of the file in the middle (clip.avi, for example) and an identifying frame at the beginning and end of the clip. Re-arranging your edits is as simple as dragging and dropping the clips into place; trimming is handled by grabbing the beginning or end of the clip and dragging it until it matches the size you need. A razor tool allows you to easily cut and splice bits and pieces of clips, and a simple push-button tool zooms the timescale in and out. (Sound familiar? If you’ve ever used a typical timeline-based editing software package, it should.)

Included in the Lumiere Suite bundle is Corel PhotoPaint 7, a successful stand-alone software product in its own right that provides high-quality text and still-image editing for titles and graphics. Also included is a delightful audio production tool called the SmartSound Wizard. Though limited in scope, the SmartSound Wizard is a great solution for video editors who want to create music to match the length of their video, rather than the other way around. The SmartSound Wizard allows video editors to create a sound clip in one of six styles (Four Seasons, Hot and Spicy, It’s Cool, Nightlife, Power Drive and Rodeo Roundup); once a style is selected, a more specific genre of music is offered. What’s really impressive about the SmartSound Wizard, however, is that it allows the user to select a very specific duration for the clip, down to the second. If, for example, you find that you need precisely seven seconds of country and western music to end a scene, just enter seven seconds into the SmartSound Wizard’s duration box; the software will then create a homogenous, natural-sounding clip exactly seven seconds in length.

Looking Closer

While preparing to capture video on our Benchmarks test computer (Pentium II 350 MHz, 192MB RAM, Windows95, 4GB Fast/Wide SCSI II hard drive, Matrox G200 video capture), we found it necessary to tweak the capture settings a few times before it would capture and play video correctly. Other video editing software packages make this easier to do than Lumiere does. Another minor problem was the preview window’s inability to create a smooth playback, even for files that needed no rendering.

Those who are familiar with the earlier version of Lumiere will notice only one major difference: the multimedia library that was included in version 1.0 is missing in 2.0. People who work at videotape resolutions probably won’t miss it, as it mainly consisted of video clips and titles that were rendered in 320×240 resolution, which is insufficient for most print-to-video applications.

All in all, IMSI’s Lumiere is a great bargain that should help a number of would-be nonlinear editors get into the craft. Whether you’re putting your final projects on tape or just creating MPEGs for CD-ROM or Web consumption, Lumiere has what you need at a fraction of the cost of most other similarly-equipped nonlinear editing packages. –JMc

Tech Specs – IMSI Lumiere Video Studio Nonlinear Editing Software

Platform: PC
Minimum System Requirements
Processor
: 90MHz Pentium
Memory: 16MB RAM
Graphics Adapter: 256-color VGA adapter
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 95/NT 4.0
Hard Drive: 40MB hard disk space
Other: CD-ROM drive

Recommended System
Processor
: MMX, Pentium II or Pentium III
Memory: 32MB
Hard Drive: Large capacity hard-disk or array
Graphics Adapter: 24-bit color VGA adapter

Transitions: 60+
Filters: 60+
Other features: Timeline display, SmartSound Wizard, Corel PhotoPaint 7, motion and compositing controls, 99 available tracks of video and audio.

strengths:

  • Very affordable
  • Capable of producing high-quality video output
  • MPEG, AVI or Quicktime compatible

weaknesses:

  • Buggy operation
  • Sometimes difficult to configure

summary:

Great for beginners or hobbyists who want a powerful yet affordable nonlinear editing package.

Lumiere Video Studio 2.0 Nonlinear Editing Software

($80)

IMSI

75 Rowland Way

Novato, CA 94945

(415) 257-3000

www.imsisoft.com

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