MGI – Digital MediaSuite review

image editing, video editing and DVD playback
Photo of MGI – Digital MediaSuite
£85 + VAT

Digital MediaSuite is a combination pack of three existing MGI products: PhotoSuite Platinum Edition, VideoWave and SoftDVDMax, all of which are ‘version 4′. The product makes little attempt at integrating the three disparate programs, and is more of a marketing ploy to sell all three.

PhotoSuite is aimed at the same market as Adobe’s PhotoDeluxe and is intended for the enthusiastic amateur rather than the graphics professional. This makes it easy to learn, but doesn’t give it as detailed a scope as a product like PhotoShop. The interface is task-based, so you select Get, Prepare, Compose in order, working through other options and finishing with Share, Print or Browse.

At each stage there are plenty of sub-options so, for example, under Get you can retrieve images from disk – plenty of stock photos are supplied – or from a TWAIN scanner, from a digital camera or from the Internet. You can then apply simple transformations, like flipping and cropping, and touch-ups like removing scratches, wrinkles and the infamous red-eye.

More spectacular tools, including the PowerGoo-like Interactive Warp, can be used for special effects, before you output the finished document to paper or Web.

MGI’s video application, VideoWave, is often bundled with entry-level video capture cards. It takes the same approach as PhotoSuite in trying to keep everything simple, and the interface helps a lot in this.

Divided into five main areas, there’s a storyboard at the top, where you can drag and drop sections of the video you’re composing. These segments can be those supplied with the suite, or more likely your own captured DV or VHS footage. The video, or any of its components, can be checked in the viewer which sits below the storyboard to the right.

To the left of this is the gallery of video clips you have available and to the left of that is the toolbar, offering ways to cross-fade between clips and add special effects and overlays. Finally, as you select and use the tools from the toolbox, controls specific to the current tool appear at the bottom of the screen, so you can make adjustments.

SoftDVDMax is a DVD player. Once installed, it pops up whenever you insert a DVD into the drive and offers the usual transport options, so you can play your programme material and flip around from one DVD segment to another. The program is well designed and very easy to use.

Included in this version is a Dolby Headphone switch, which cuts in the software to reproduce Dolby Digital surround sound, emulated on any standard set of twin-speaker headphones. While the sound environment isn’t as effective as true Dolby Digital 5.1, with its six speakers, it still adds a lot to movie atmosphere.

Company: MGI

Contact: 0800 973830

Combining all three graphic programs into a Suite appears good value and each is a useful example of its genre - VideoWave 4 is particularly strong. Make sure you'll really use all three applications before buying, though, as each is available separately.