Ulead VideoStudio 8 review

£38
Price when reviewed

Ulead VideoStudio used to be quite ubiquitous, due to bundle deals with multiple FireWire adaptor manufacturers. But there’s much more to version 8 than the free software that came with a few hardware devices; it packs a lot of power for one of the lowest prices around.

Ulead VideoStudio 8 review

Like most entry-level editors, VideoStudio takes a tabbed approach to editing. But Ulead breaks the process down into seven stages. These don’t massively change the interface, however – they just dictate the contents of palettes and whether you see a timeline or thumbnail storyboard. It’s an effective system and almost as easy to use as Pinnacle Studio.

There’s also an automated editing wizard, which leads you through choosing a style and the raw clips to include, after which it makes all the decisions for you. Beginning and end titles are added, plus filters depending on the chosen style. The results are a bit erratic, but you can always load them into the main editing area for manual tweaking. The wizard can also edit DVD-VR and DVD+VR discs, as created by some set-top DVD recorders.

VideoStudio’s titling is relatively good as well, and includes fairly sophisticated animation. However, Ulead COOL 3D SE is also bundled for creating more elaborate custom titles. A hefty amount of filters – 37 to be precise – and even more transitions are available, although the 3D options aren’t as extensive as in Pinnacle Studio’s Hollywood FX. But VideoStudio’s filters do have comprehensive keyframing capabilities.

VideoStudio used to be the only entry-level application to offer a second track of video. Now Roxio VideoWave Pro 7 and Pinnacle Studio Plus 9 do as well, and Premiere Elements offers layers. It’s still the cheapest video editor with superimposition capabilities, but these are limited to picture-in-picture.

Video output can be previewed via FireWire to your DV device, which can then be attached to an analog monitor. However, you’ll need a powerful system to render the entire movie prior to output back to tape. VideoStudio is unique in having integration with Neptune Media Share (www.neptune.com), so you can encode your finished edits to a streaming media format and upload them to the Internet in one go. A trial membership is included with the package.

Although VideoStudio 8’s editing power has been surpassed by Pinnacle Studio Plus 9 and Premiere Elements, you still get a lot for your money. If your budget is tight, it’s a bargain.

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