Nero 7 Ultra Edition Editing, Burning, DVD Authoring Software
The newest addition to the Nero family is Nero 7 Ultra Edition. Nero has a history of making quality products for both the novice and intermediate user. Their title as an All-In-One product for disc burning is established; the box even boasts, "CREATE, EDIT, BURN, SHARE, ENJOY." We'll admit that is a pretty comprehensive list, and an attractive one at that.
During our initial install of the suite on our test computer we found NeroVision, an integral part of the bundle, did not jive with our test computer. After speaking with Nero's tech support and downloading a free update to version 184.108.40.206 from www.nero.com, we still could not get Vision to open. Although the majority of applications in Nero 7 were stable and bug-free for us at Videomaker, we found that our experience with Nero 7 was not unique. Reports from Nero customers range from having no apps work, to having some work, to having only Nero Vision work. At press time Nero was not able to conclude what caused the problem.
However, the suite hummed along on our second test computer; an NLE Systems machine configured with Windows XP Professional, a 3.0GHz Pentium 4, and a gig and a half of RAM. Nero 7 Ultra Edition is comprised of more than 18 applications. Included in the bunch are: SoundTrax 2 for mixing 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound, Express 7 for disc burning, and Vision for video editing and DVD authoring. You can launch them all through the familiar StartSmart application, which will assemble common tasks for you. Simply click on the icon that best suits your task. An example task icon would be, "Make a DVD Video". Selecting that task will launch Nero Vision.
Home Suite Home
A large addition to the product is Nero Home, an elegant and smooth interface allowing easy access to all of your media. Nero Home is designed for versatility. Home works with a standard computer monitor or an HDTV, and can switch between 4:3 and 16:9 widescreen modes. The only problem we had was in finding a way to close the application Home, not that we really wanted to. The standard close/maximize/minimize threesome of buttons in the upper right of the window is invisible until you "mouse over" it. There's also Nero Scout, a search application that easily finds your media wherever it lies on your computer. DVD authoring and video editing meld quite well in Nero 7. How well? We were able to capture DV video, edit it with existing video clips, add sound, create an active DVD menu and burn the disc all inside Vision.
Vision's video editor found our Mini DV camera without fail, and offered device control through the FireWire connection. Device control is a must for an editor worth his or her oats. Vision includes timeline and storyboard views, along with handy tools for editing. The list of tools also includes "cut" and "trim". These give you the ability to split one video clip into two, and take out portions of your video completely. Unfortunately, pressing the space bar to play through your edits is not an option. We'd like to see that common feature in the next version. Vision also includes the ability to view your clips full screen, though we found playback a bit choppy on our test system. Also, we were a little surprised to find that transition effects were sparse. Common transitions such as a "cross dissolve" or "fade-to-black" are not included in Vision. However, we do really like the abundance of effects and motion title filters. "Fire" was by far our favorite; it does a great job of rendering believable flames on the edges of your various subjects in the video frame.
Authoring Made Easy
By simply clicking the "Next" button at the bottom right of Vision, you are in DVD authoring land.
The interface is similar to a web browser, with "next" and "back" buttons to navigate with. Not happy with your soon-to-be burned video? Click the "back" button to return to Vision's video editor. Or, if you are ready to make your DVD menu, click the "forward" button to move on. Vision allows users to put all video clips into a queue-style list, which makes adding more video easy. Vision also offers a clean report on the amount of real estate left on the DVD. The next step is to add a title and chapter markers. Nero Vision gives you a multitude of button options, text fonts, and colorful motion backgrounds to accomplish this with style. The included menu buttons are creative, and you can change the color selections. After choosing the "edit menu" option from below the video pane, most options become available from a drop down menu. This helps keep clutter to a minimum, since only one option is displayed at a time. After you preview and burn, Vision politely asks whether you want to burn another disc. To this we replied, "yes."
Nero 7 Ultra Edition can provide the user with two very different experiences depending on what they want to do. With Nero Home, playback options have been improved and made easy to access. SmartStart remains the hub for editing and burning all types of media. While these two interfaces look and feel very different, they do provide access to some of the same programs. Some users may find this helpful; others slightly confusing. And while we were able to use and test Nero 7 on our second editing computer, our first try lacked complete functionality. Hopefully, Nero will release a new update soon that allows the entire suite to work on a greater percentage of systems. Until then, you need to be aware that all the suite's programs may not work with your PC right away.
Operating System: Windows 98SE, 2000 with service Pack 4 or later, XP
Processor: 800 MHz PIII (or equivalent), or AMD Sempron 2200
RAM: 128 MB
Graphics Card: 8 MB video memory and minimum resolution of 800 x 600 pixels
LightScribe: Windows 2000 with service pack 4, or XP
Dolby Digital support: yes
Dolby Digital encoding: yes
MPEG audio support: yes
Accepts pre-encoded MPEG-2 files: yes
Accepts DV files: yes
Built-in MPEG-2 encoding: yes
Scene Detection: yes, customizable
Authoring Wizard: yes
Pre-formatted Templates: yes
Motion Buttons: no
Motion Backgrounds: yes
Internal Titling: yes
End of Play Behavior Control: no
Video Editing: yes
Multiple Video Streams: yes
Multiple Audio Streams: yes
Subtitle Creation: no
DVD Scripting: no
Create Links from Video Tracks: no
DVD-ROM Content: yes
Error Checking: no
Realtime Previews of Motion On Menus: yes
Label/Case Printing: yes
Region Coding Support: yes
- Nero Vision is well-integrated
- Nero Home is a pleasant addition
- Nero Vision refused to open on our editing computer
- User interfaces have little similarity between applications
Nero 7 Ultra is a promising solution, although it's quite buggy for the time being.
Andrew Burke is Videomaker's Editorial Assistant and has worked in all areas of video production on three continents.
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