Ulead – DVD MovieFactory 5 Plus review

video capture software with Blu-Ray and HD DVD support
Photo of Ulead – DVD MovieFactory 5 Plus
£44.99 (£24.99 for upgrade)

ULead’s software is often found bundled with video-oriented hardware like TV tuners. In general, ULead does a good job of providing a no-nonsense means of getting video onto DVD. MovieFactory 5 Plus features enhancements that add capability and make sense for ULead’s bundle software market.

ULead has updated the core MovieFactory application with support for the new competing formats, HD DVD and Blu-ray. At the same time, DVB capture support has been added for recording digital TV from Digital Freeview adapters.

What you actually get in the Plus edition is a suite of applications, including the updated MovieFactory 5, WinDVD 7 and DVDCopy 4, all of which are interesting and useful in their own right, despite having a few limitations.

Don’t expect full-featured video editing tools from MovieFactory (ULead sells VideoStudio for that instead), but you can at least trim, join or split files before creating a simple menu and burning to DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray, SVCD, etc. However, since you can import video from file, camera or other capture devices (like the BDA driver of most modern digital TV adapters), you can always add transitions in something like Windows Movie Maker before importing.

Digital TV capture is an interesting new feature and MovieMaker 5 had no issues with the adapter we used. The first step is to search for available channels, which doesn’t take too long. Then users have the option of recording to file or direct to disk, or setting the software to record at a certain time and for a certain duration.

Unfortunately, the lack of any electronic programme guide and no support for queueing means that it is missing some important features offered by dedicated TV recording software. We were disappointed to find that the resulting MPEG file was simply resampled like any other MPEG, resulting in some lip-synch problems, despite the fact that DTV broadcasts are virtually DVD-ready. Oh well, we’ll have to wait for that killer DVB application. At least it’s pretty good at capturing Mini-DV format video.

It turns out that MovieFactory 5 Plus has an unexpectedly useful feature in its ability to build slideshows from digital photos and save them to DVD. The process is very simple and very effective, and you can easily add several slideshows onto one disk. Although it’s certainly not alone in offering this feature, it’s very effectively implemented in MovieFactory.

In the form of DVDCopy 4, ULead provides a means of backing up existing DVDs, shrinking them if necessary to fit on a recordable DVD. This is useful in case you either lose or damage the original disks.

ULead is touting MovieFactory 5 Plus as the first consumer software to support Blu-Ray, and it also supports the lower capacity, but cheaper, competing HD DVD format. With the latter, MovieFactory supports something called ‘PureHD’, where high definition format video is captured and preserved in that format through to the burning stage.

With the current high price of HD format hardware like video cameras and burners, this support is unlikely for most of us to be a compelling reason to buy the software, but ULead’s support for the technologies will at least mature by the time hardware prices drop. And the company is sensibly avoiding committing itself to either competing format at the moment.

Company: Ulead

Contact: 01327 844880


Verdict
MovieFactory 5 Plus has a wealth of features, some of them more complete than others. It consitutes an easy to use, good value product, although it would be nice if ULead could combine this package with the very similar VideoStudio product, to make one great application.