Benchmark:Ulead Systems VideoStudio 4.0 Editing Software
Editing for Beginners

by Larry Lemm





VideoStudio 4.0 Editing Software

($100)

Ulead Systems, Inc.

970 West 190th Street, Suite 520

Torrance, CA 90502

(310) 523-9393

www.uled.com



If you want to edit video without having to learn the complexities of advanced editing software like Adobe Premiere or Ulead MediaStudio Pro, youre not alone. There are many people looking for a cheap and easy way to get started in video editing. For these seekers, Ulead Systems created VideoStudio 4 nonlinear editing software.

VideoStudio 4 is not a program for creating highly-complex layered video with flashy graphics and effects. VideoStudio 4 is targeted at newcomers to video editing. In this fourth release of VideoStudio, Ulead provides DV support and device control of most DV camcorders.


Putting VideoStudio on your Computer

Installing Ulead VideoStudio 4 is fairly easy, simply pop in the CD and load the software. For this test, we installed VideoStudio 4 on a Pentium II 350MHz with 192MB SDRAM, a Matrox Marvel G200 video card and a Canopus DVRaptor IEEE 1394 card.

However, VideoStudio 4 seemed intent on installing QuickTime 3.02 over the version of QuickTime 4 already installed on our test computer. Besides the potential QuickTime overwrite, the installation went trouble-free. After a couple of minutes, VideoStudio 4 was ready to go. We hooked up a camcorder (a JVC GV-DV9500) and were set to capture some video.


Using VideoStudio 4

The commands at the top of the VideoStudio 4 window clearly explain the capture and edit process to the beginning videographer. First you click the "start" button to begin a new project. After selecting your settings, and naming your project, you are ready to move onto the "capture" button. Capturing video with VideoStudio 4 wont intimidate. Remember, this is editing software only. Youll need a digitizing or capture card to get video from your camcorder to your computers hard drive for editing. You can use either a video digitizer, or an IEEE 1394 card to put video onto your computer. Since device control of DV camcorders via the IEEE 1394 port is a new feature of VideoStudio 4, we elected to take the DV approach with the Canopus DVRaptor.

When you click the "capture" button, the on-screen menus change. You can use the intuitive VCR-like buttons underneath the preview screen to control your camcorder. As you capture clips, they drop onto the timeline for you to edit later. The capture process went without a hitch. This was probably due to the fact that we had the proper IEEE 1394 drivers for our card. Once you capture your clips, youre ready to edit. To do this, you click the next button on the top of the screen, "storyboard.

VideoStudio 4 has two editing methods. You can edit in a storyboard view, where each clip is represented by a still thumbnail, or on a timeline. In storyboard mode, you lay the clips in the order you want them to appear, and add transitions between them, as desired. In timeline mode, the interface of choice for most other nonlinear editing programs, VideoStudio 4 has only one video track. This "limitation" is by design, making the program approachable and easy for casual editors who want to make simple edits. If you want to overlay multiple tracks of video, this is not the program for you.

Once you have trimmed and arranged your clips, you can add a variety of different transition effects to your project. There are plenty of effects to use, including over 100 transitions such as page flips, rolls and other 3D effects. They will need to be rendered before youre finished.

Ulead has a feature called "SmartRender" which Ulead claims speeds up the process by making VideoStudio 4 render only the parts of the video that must be rendered, and not the parts that are just raw video. SmartRender is a good thing too, because many beginning videographers will panic if they must face multiple-hour render times. With no hardware support, VideoStudio 4 isnt incredibly fast. But then again, has anyone ever heard of a $100 real-time nonlinear editor?

After adding titles with the built-in titler and tweaking the audio mix, you are ready to record your project to tape or the Web. VideoStudio 4 comes with a variety of output options. You can output to videotape, or you can have the program format your video to output on the Internet in various forms. It can be output as an .ASF file for Windows Media, as a QuickTime video or even as MPEG-2 video.


What Do You Want From an NLE?

The question you should ask yourself before you go out and buy VideoStudio 4, or any nonlinear editing package for that matter, is "what do I want to do with this program?". If you just want to change the order of the clips, add some music or narration, some titles and a transition or two, VideoStudio 4 could be an excellent, inexpensive solution. -LL

 

TECH SPECS

Ulead Systems, Inc.

VideoStudio 4.0

Platform PC

Minimum System Requirements

Processor 300MHz

Memory 32MB RAM

Operating System Windows 95/98/NT/2000

Hard Drive 80MB free

Other CD-ROM, sound card, Video Capture Device

TEST RESULTS

strengths

  • Device control for IEEE 1394 cards
  • Simple interface

    weaknesses

  • Limited number of audio and video tracks

    summary

  • A decent nonlinear editor for people whove never edited before, but not something that more-experienced editors would want to use.
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