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There are several low-priced video editing software packages around. Some give up too much functionality in their quest to simplify and end up with a barely usable product. Others don’t simplify enough, and leave the beginning videographer bewildered and lost.
Ulead Systems’ new VideoStudio 5.0 retains sufficient functionality while providing a simplified, step-by-step interface. While not perfect, this product could easily be the new or casual editor’s best friend.
Installation is a Breeze
We installed VideoStudio 5.0 onto our test computer, a Celeron 400MHz, 128MB RAM, 10GB hard drive system running Windows 2000 Professional. After inserting the CD-ROM, we selected "Install VideoStudio 5.0" from the on-screen menu. We stepped through a few dialogs, and we were done.
A tutorial was another installation menu choice. A set of Flash presentations, the tutorials provided an introduction to the VideoStudio 5.0 interface and to the eight-step process the program used. They were more like feature demos than functional, guided tutorials, but still useful. We viewed the tutorial segments, and then ran the program.
Eight-fold Path to Nirvana
VideoStudio 5.0 uses eight simple steps to guide editors through the movie-making process: Start, Capture, Storyboard, Effects, Title, Voice, Music and Finish. These steps are not necessarily sequential, but logical choices to use when assembling your video. You can click on the selectors from the menu bar at the top of the interface and move between different steps as you want.
Start is just like it sounds; it’s used to begin a new project or open an existing one. When we created a new project, we chose from a list of pre-defined project types or could create a custom one. We chose the NTSC DV .avi project, and named it First Project. As soon as we either created a new project or opened an existing one, we were automatically moved to the Capture screen. Here, we were offered a good set of options and choices when capturing, including different video settings, audio settings, etc. We also had a choice of capturing audio-only, video-only or stills. After capturing our clips, we moved on to Storyboard.
The Storyboard is the heart of the editor. The storyboard configuration allows you to roughly assemble your clips into their proper order. You can then switch to the Timeline mode, which shows specifics of audio tracks, video, transitions, etc. You can toggle back and forth between the storyboard view or the detailed timeline view. In the Storyboard, you can trim, rearrange and duplicate clips, apply filters to clips and adjust clip volumes. You can also add still images or color clips to your timeline, and even capture still images. It is here, in the storyboard, that you will spend most of your time.
Four More Steps
The program’s Effects step allows you to add transitions to your project. VideoStudio 5.0 includes a library of more than 100 transition effects. You can also adjust the transitions and their duration in the options panel. In the Title step, you can add titles, whether stationary, rolling or scrolling. You can feature titles of varying transparencies, with drop shadows in various colors and fonts. A new feature of this version is that you can now add video clips to the Title track to create simple picture-in-picture overlays, with transparency, depending on the source media.
VideoStudio 5.0 has two audio tracks, which correspond to the final two steps, Voice and Music. The Voice step allows you to place spoken-word files into the voice track, or capture new voice recordings. You can make adjustments to the voice clips, such as changing their duration. You can trim their in- and out-points and adjust their volumes as well. During the Music step you can add music clips from a CD or import a variety of audio files, including MP3s.
An important thing to note about working with audio in VideoStudio 5.0 is that in addition to the two audio tracks, Voice and Music, you have the additional audio track that is a part of your video, giving you a total of three tracks for sound. This additional flexibility could come in handy when it’s time to make your videos.
VideoStudio 5.0 is remarkably accessible to beginners. And just because it’s easy to use doesn’t mean it can’t produce high-quality video.
If you are looking for an easy-to-use, yet capable editor, then look no farther. VideoStudio 5.0 can do it for you.
Minimum System Requirements:
Platform: Windows Windows 98, 98SE, 2000, Me or NT 4.0 with Service Pack 6
Processor: Pentium 300 or better (optimized for Pentium IV)
RAM: 64MB (128MB recommended)
Storage: 300MB (4GB recommended for video files)
Drive: CD-ROM or DVD-ROM
Video capture support: WDM & VFW compliant capture devices, USB capture devices, IEEE-1394 (FireWire) devices
VideoStudio 5.0 provides easy, step-by-step editing that will satisfy beginners and casual hobbyists.