Corel VideoStudio Ultimate X7 review
Corel VideoStudio isn’t the most sophisticated video-editing software around, but it could never be accused of being light on features. It has all the basics covered: arranging and trimming clips; applying effects and transitions; designing titles; and burning discs. It can also create stop-motion animations, animate graphics to track subjects around the frame, capture the Windows desktop as a video file, turn drawings into animated sketches, edit subtitles and export to the web in HTML5 format.
For this latest update, Corel’s attention is on performance and ease of use. VideoStudio is now available as a 64-bit application, a move that has really paid off for other video editors. VideoStudio X6 was able to play five AVCHD streams on our Core i7-870 test PC. X7 managed seven streams, a welcome improvement that brings it roughly in line with its competitors.
The previous version’s handling of QuickTime AVC footage, such as from Canon compact and SLR cameras, was particularly poor, intermittently struggling to play a single stream. X7 is better, but it still runs into problems with more than one stream. By contrast, Sony Movie Studio Platinum 13 managed five streams of our test EOS 70D footage.
Export times have also been improved. A project based on the same footage took 6mins 6secs to render to 1080p MPEG4 in X6, and 3mins 12secs in X7 – almost twice as fast. It still wasn’t as quick as Movie Studio Platinum, though. Meanwhile, a simple AVCHD-based project was only marginally faster than X6 to export, down from 1min 29secs to 1min 24secs. Both results were a little faster than Movie Studio Platinum.
Sadly, we didn’t notice any discernible improvement to the responsiveness of the interface. Navigating the timeline and editing clips often resulted in a delay of around a second while the software performed the requested action. There were waits of up to three seconds between hitting play and playback commencing, making it tricky to fine-tune edits.
Corel lists a “sleek new look for the user interface” among its new features, but we struggled to spot the difference between X6 and X7. The Capture, Edit and Share tabs are redesigned, but while they look a little neater, there’s less room available on the screen for the various panels.
Clicking the Share tab reveals export options, and these have been tidied up with individual buttons for the available export formats. Each one comes with profiles at various resolutions, frame rates and bit rates. It looks friendlier than the old dropdown list, but it carries over the same patchy support for frame rates. Having set the region to UK during installation, the software offered various 25fps but no 30fps profiles, and 24fps and 50fps options were woefully under-represented.
There’s an option to match export settings to the imported footage, but it isn’t clearly signposted, and wasn’t available for 24fps, 30fps or 60fps footage. The timeline’s frame rate doesn’t automatically match the footage, either. These discrepancies make it worryingly easy to end up with dropped or repeated frames.
VideoStudio Pro X7 is available for £50 exc VAT, but VideoStudio Ultimate X7 is the better deal at £67, since it comes with seven third-party plugins. proDAD Mercalli is the highlight of these, delivering some of the highest-quality video stabilisation we’ve seen. It’s frustrating that the pop-up controls must be closed in order to preview the effect, but considering that the standalone version of Mercalli costs $179 (around £107), it seems churlish to complain.
proDAD VitaScene is a comprehensive suite of effects, with a strong selection of vintage film simulations. NewBlueFX ColorFast offers sophisticated colour tints, and there are further plugins for distortion effects, 3D titles and animated paths – perfect for plotting routes on a map. Some of these plugins will be too complex for casual users, but it all supports the general feeling of getting plenty of bang for your buck.
VideoStudio X7 also introduces a new standalone editor called FastFlick. It’s almost entirely template-driven, with the user picking a theme, importing media, adding a few captions and exporting. Most templates work better for photo slideshows than for videos, but projects can be sent to VideoStudio for further editing.
There’s a huge amount on offer here, and much of it is excellent, but VideoStudio’s core editing tools continue to let it down. The timeline can be unresponsive, and frame-rate mismatches diminish editing precision. The main colour-correction controls are crude and can’t be automated. There are a few idiosyncrasies to the interface, too: for example, hitting the spacebar usually commences playback, but in some cases it toggles a checkbox on and off. Effects editors appear in pop-up windows, whereupon the preview fails to display media on other tracks.
The performance improvements make this a worthwhile upgrade for existing users, but they don’t give VideoStudio an advantage over its competitors. It’s a decent choice for casual users who want lots of features to keep them occupied. More demanding users are better off using a Sony or Adobe editor.
|Software subcategory||Video editing software|
Operating system support
|Operating system Windows Vista supported?||yes|
|Operating system Windows XP supported?||yes|
|Operating system Linux supported?||yes|
|Operating system Mac OS X supported?||no|
|Other operating system support||Windows 8|