As with an increasing number of products from Ulead, there’s much to admire about the company’s new video editing solution, VideoStudio 7. From the colourful, friendly opening through to the layout of the main working screen, this is a program that seems to have user accessibility at heart.
Take the very top of the screen as an example, seeing as it pretty much describes everything that the program does. It lists a series of tabs (Capture, Edit, Overlay, Title, Audio, Share) which cover the main tools of the program, allowing the user to delve into whatever section they like with ease. Ultimately, the job of the program is to help you capture, edit, manipulate and ultimately output your video projects, and while things aren’t quite as easy as they first appear, there’s little doubting that Ulead has done a fine job in breaking the work down into manageable and understandable chunks.
Starting with the capture process, then, this leaves relatively few options on screen, choosing instead to focus on the main capture window and keep the basics to the left of it. Capture is handled by a simple record and stop button, and fresh footage is moved to the right of the screen. It can then, in the edit section, be dragged to the film strip at the bottom, which is where the finished product is assembled. Each individual clip can be trimmed as necessary, while fades and volume settings can also be tweaked. These are not the most in-depth of edit functions, but they seem to suit the program’s usability ethic down to the ground.
Once the footage is sorted into some sort of order, effects and overlays come into play. Each individual scene is held together automatically by a transition, and customizing this is a simple job of clicking on it and making your choices from the right of the screen. A substantial selection of transitions is commendably provided with the program, and none of them is tricky to apply, with the option to customize direction, colour and suchlike.
The overlay section, meanwhile, allows you to add either a still image or a video clip onto a separate video line at the bottom of the screen. This part of the program is easy to muddle up, and it does highlight the lack of help available. While VideoStudio 7 is undoubtedly quite straightforward to use, when you do hit a dead-end it certainly could do more to help you back out of it.
Next up is the titling segment, and here you can again choose from a healthy selection of pre-configured options. Alternatively you can put together your own from the tools within the program. It has to be said that these tools won’t allow you to put together anything particularly sophisticated, although they’re not to be sniffed at. You have control over font, colour, borders, text effects and timings, and then you can click on the animations tab, which facilitates factors like getting the whole lot to fly across the screen. From there, you move on to the audio section, which allows you to bring in and lay down music tracks. You can also record a voiceover should you so wish.
Finally, it’s time to output, and the program supports the creation of a video file, a sound file or a disc-based variant, be it CD or DVD. With the right hardware connected, you can also use the software to export to another source.
In all, it’s hard to level much criticism against a program that’s efficient, unfussy, and to the point. You could argue that it forfeits some of the advanced features of more expensive packages, but you can’t help but feel that was the objective. What VideoStudio 7 adds up to is a collection of tools to do a job, with a few extras, but no long list of options that would potentially confuse and distract its novice and intermediate-level target users. In short, this is one of the easiest-to-use software video editing solutions on the market.
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