Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 11/21/05 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

Ulead MediaStudio Pro 8

New editing software has unique new features By Charlie White

Ulead has released a new version of its MediaStudio Pro application, now in version 8. This new iteration of Uleads top-of-the-line nonlinear editing software offers a more unified interface and support for HDV files. It also adds new templates for a unique new automatic compositing routine, and a clever new way of dealing with proxies to reduce the time necessary to edit large HD files. We took Ulead MediaStudio Pro 8 out for a test drive, and heres our review.

Perhaps the most noticeable improvement in MediaStudio Pro 8 is the fact that the application feels more unified. Gone are the array of separate applications that were loosely associated with each other, and now there are just two applications, the Video Editor and the Capture Tool. Within the application itself, its now possible to drag sections of the user interface around and drop them into different places. For example, you can grab the Production Library window and drag it over to the preview window and when you drop it there, it nestles itself into that part of the screen. If you want to get back to the original, you just go to the Window menu and select one of the basic layouts. This is not perfect, though. I would have liked to see an easy button at the top right so that I could select between different layouts. Its also possible to resize the various sections of the interface, but it would be nice to be able to resize these areas vertically and horizontally at the same time, both of which must be done separately. Overall, though, its a great improvement in the user interface to be able to arrange all of these sectors without overlapping any windows.

Ulead MediaStudio Pro 8's new user interface is more unified than previous versions. Notice you can now have more than one timeline.

Another new feature is the Smart Compositor, which gives you templates for various composited sequences. Clicking on Insert/Smart Compositor, youre presented with a group of theme templates, with 22 from which to choose under various headings such as sports, documentary, romantic, and music video. These expertly-designed templates give you special effects that you can use for show opens, graphics, and much more. Theyre also configurable, so you can substitute your own shots inside and change the text, as well is modify the animations themselves. They even are accompanied by hip-sounding music from the included SmartSound package. I would say if youre going to be a Ulead MediaStudio Pro 8 user, go ahead and use these templates before someone else does, because they look great and Im sure whoever uses the application will be tempted to take advantage of their expert design. My only complaint is that there arent more than 22 of them. This is an outstanding addition to this program, and in my opinion the highlight of this new release.

The new Smart Compositor gives you prepackaged sequences that look very good, and also include an audio track. When you're done with your modifications, it places the composited clip on the timeline as a single virtual clip.

Another great new feature is the Smart Proxy mode, in which MediaStudio Pro creates lower resolution copies of your clips. Then, when you capture HDV footage, for example, you can still edit the clips in close to real time. This feature gives you the ability to edit clips on a less powerful computer, too, such as a laptop. Then, when you want to output your footage in full resolution, MediaStudio Pro lets you easily do that. Of course, this is not a new feature to the world of editing on computers ?its been present in nonlinear editing software for more than a decade?but Uleads implementation of it is easy to use and efficient. 

The trim window is an unfortunate part of the design of MediaStudio Pro. In nonlinear editing applications, I think the trim window is one of the most important elements. In the trim window in MediaStudio Pro, you must drag your clips on the timeline and then they are shown to you in the trim window, with no separate controls in the trim window itself. Perhaps Im accustomed to this in other applications; however I do think that it would be desirable to have controls in the trim window itself, and be able to jump from one clip to the next and trim each one as you go, as it is commonplace in most nonlinear editing applications. This trim window facility feels like a work in progress to me.

Another glaring deficiency in the software is its decidedly inferior documentation. The help menus have a lot of writing in them, but unfortunately all these words contain very little help. It was uncanny the way the help system was unable to tell me what I needed to know on almost every occasion I had to visit it. I suspect there was a language barrier between those who wrote the help screens and English. But any case, its a lot more difficult to use an application when there is no real help at hand.

Worse, I also noticed some inherent instability in the software. For instance, importing video crashed the software couple of times. On the positive side, when I restarted the application after a crash, it asked if I wanted to restore the most recent backup of my project. On the timeline, when attempting to drag and drop a transition from the production library onto two overlapping clips, for some reason part of the timeline would disappear. I could only find it again by scrolling down on the timeline. This didnt make any sense to me. I also couldnt find any way to transition to a clip that was placed above another on a separate track on the timeline, and if there is a way to do this, the help menus were certainly not able to tell me how. 

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Related Keywords:Ulead MediaStudio Pro 8, nonlinear editing software, HDV, smart compositor, review


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