Ulead Systems hopes to bring easy video preparation and editing to the masses with an updated version of its VideoStudio program that adds a simple wizard to create polished videos plus a full video editor for users unwilling to cede creative control to a machine.
VideoStudio 8 is downloadable now from the Ulead Web site for $100; it is scheduled to become available in stores in May. Registered users of a previous version can upgrade for $50.
Hollywood Made Easy
The new MovieWizard turns video postproduction into a three-step process. First, you import your video into VideoStudio. Then you make a few minor creative decisions. Finally, you output your new home movie to DVD, CD, or the Web.
You need make only a few choices before the software turns your raw footage into viewable (albeit not quite professional) entertainment, according to Ulead representatives. For instance, you may select a template, such as old movie or business, after which VideoStudio will add the appropriate filters, transitions, and titles. The program will also edit your video for quality, removing out-of-focus and other poor shots (and, yes, you can restore them to the film if you choose).
VideoStudio can add to or subtract from the video to make it match your choice of music, or it can use SmartSound technology to generate music that fits the time slot and the mood.
If you don’t trust a program to make the movie you want, you can use what Ulead describes as a “full-featured Video Editor.” This tool lets you edit your own video, which means that you decide what to show when and in which order. You can add transitions, effects, and filters, too. Storyboard and timeline views show you an overview of your work.
The Video Editor isn’t new to version 8, but it is improved in this update. New features include duotone and diffuse glow filters to enhance an image’s atmosphere. You can also pan over and zoom into your still photos, if you dream of becoming Ken Burns. New audio features include a real-time audio mixer and a rubber-band timeline view for adjusting the volume over a video’s running time.
Input and Output Options
All of this fancy editing is useless if you can’t move video onto your computer and into VideoStudio, or distribute the final results to your friends and family.
Your video will probably come from a digital camcorder–a data source that VideoStudio should be able to accept without a hitch. And the program’s new shuttle control should make this kind of transfer even easier, helping you find the right places on the videocassette to record.
The program can accept input from an unencrypted DVD or, with the right hardware (such as an analog-to-digital converter box), from a TV or VCR. Supported video formats include .avi, .wmv, Quicktime, and MPEG-1, -2, and (with a plug-in available on the Ulead Web site) -4. Audio formats include .mp3, .wma, .wav, and QuickTime.
If you import a wide-screen, 16:9 video into VideoStudio, the program should treat the image accordingly. When you output a 16:9 video to DVD, it goes out as an anamorphic wide-screen title.
You can put more than one title on a DVD, whether wide-screen or not. You can use various templates to create on-screen DVD menus, and you can control the MPEG-2 compression to balance capacity and image quality. Alternatively, you can output to CD or, if you have the right converter, to a VCR.
If you want to make your videos available immediately, without waiting to record and mail discs, you can post it on the Web with a few clicks. Ulead has a deal with Neptune.com, where it sends your videos. Neptune is a video-sharing site that functions like the many photo sites out there, but with one important difference: It costs $50 yearly to use.