VideoStudio shines

Corel makes movie-editing easy

By Harold Glicken

 

My film career is set mostly in movie theaters or my private screening room, but I’ve been making movies for more than 50 years. An early adapter, I bought my first Super 8 movie camera while I was still in college. Those hand-held-camera movies, influenced by auteurs like Fellini and Cassavetes, were unscripted and shaky.

My films didn’t become interesting until my kids came along.  I transitioned to a heavy camcorder. Limited in what they could do and reliant on VHS tapes that sometimes broke in the middle of filming, camcorders got smaller and lighter over time. Fast-forward to my 6.63-ounce iPhone 7 Plus, which takes great videos.

In my Super 8 days, editing home movies was done either as I shot, which almost never worked well, or with an editing machine. I’d cut snippets of film with a scissors and paste them to footage of the next scene. When my older son was born, I went all-out and filled a bushel basket with  three-minutes films, which I later transferred to VHS, then to DVDs. I never mastered camcorder editing of my home movies until I came across simple devices that converted VHS analog movies to digital files. Pinnacle Dazzle is my tool of choice. It’s a small, $70 device that hooks up to a VHS player on one end and a PC on the other; content is  digitized as it streams to the PC. For software, I used several programs, including Adobe Premiere Elements. Despite the software, my movies looked amateurish. Fellini and Cassavetes would have been uncomfortable associating with an amateur like me.

There’s no shortage of movie-editing software vying for attention. I’ve been testing the new Corel VideoStudioX10 Ultimate, and compared to the software I usually use, Adobe Premiere Elements, the latest VideoStudio is a scene-stealer.

Here are some of the high points.

Like most video-editing software, VideoStudio displays a home screen with a library where footage and transitions are grouped. A timeline is below the library, where film is actually edited. The virtual snipping of my Super 8 days is clean and easy, using digital tools. In VideoStudio, footage from multiple cameras adds a professional touch. Depending on the version you choose and if you recruit multiple cinematographers, you can edit footage of the same scene from up to six cameras. This means you can shoot conversations from both subjects’ point of view, while shooting background shots from different angles. Shooting sports footage really comes alive with different camera angles.

A text tool is used to superimpose words, titles or phrases over footage. The music-track tool rounds out the tool section. All the tools are logically placed, and the icons for tools are user-friendly.

VideoStudio has screen capture, which allowed me to mix scenes from another video with the movie I was editing. Screen capture is essential if you’re editing analog footage from a VCR. As the analog footage is transferred, the footage is displayed in the preview box on the screen.

Time-remapping allows you to freeze-frame, go backward and forward until you’ve achieved the timeline effect you want. A fade tool lets you superimpose multiple scenes, with fade-in and fade-out, just like the pros.

There are thousands of effects, transitions and animated titles that are easily integrated into movies. The Ultimate version, which I reviewed, includes enhancements for when you go from amateur auteur to professional. That  transition is made possible with Corel’s excellent online Discovery Center tutorials.

Once you master the video components of VideoStudio, it’s fairly easy to add music tracks to each scene. This feature is especially useful when you want to change the tempo of a movie. Like other video-editing programs, it gives you the flexibility of fading one track into another as the movie is edited. Since there’s a double-track voice feature, it’s possible to lower the volume of music, for example, while making voice-over the dominant sound source.

There’s stop-motion editing, along with slow-motion and fast-motion. Motion tracking lets you add a blur to a scene of a runner coming closer and closer to the front of the screen. Part of the footage can be selected so that certain effects can be added to that part of the image and subsequent footage. The effect, which is fairly simple to use, blurs the difference between what you produce as an amateur and what a professional editor can produce. It’s worth saying that VideoStudio’s bag of tricks is full of surprising effects, tools and creative editing effects. I took an  amateurish scene and, with the help of one of the tutorials,  made it interesting and eye-catching. It’s tempting to use special effects on every scene, but too many special effects can make the movie look amateurish. Some scenes should be played out as they are.

When you finish your movie, a utility that’s included, MyDVD, helps transfer the movie to a DVD or a PC, and prepares it for uploading to Facebook, YouTube and other social media. I also can distribute the movie to friends and relatives, who diplomatically tell me that perhaps  I should have taken up model railroading as a hobby.

So, how does VideoStudio Ultimate stack up to Premiere Elements? The neatest feature of Elements is the ability to make collages of stills and videos. I could see putting a still of a person in one frame and movies featuring the person in the other frames. Like Photoshop Elements, Premiere has three levels of expertise to choose from: quick, guided and expert. VideoStudio’s home screen has a “welcome” tab, along with tabs for capture, edit and share. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

What really seems hard to believe is how inexpensive both programs are. VideoStudio X10 Pro retails for $80; Premiere Elements costs $100.  The Ultimate  version of VideoStudio, which I tested, has many more editing features, templates and effects. It retails for $100 – well worth the extra $20. Both the Pro and Ultimate versions are sometimes discounted, either by Corel or on Amazon.

Tough choice? Focusing on all the features of each, I’d give my “action!” to VideoStudio X10 Ultimate over Premiere Elements. VideoStudio is slick, moderately easy to learn and has excellent editing tools.

I’m no Fellini, but I have a vision of what I want my movies to look like. It seems as if VideoStudio’s producers have anticipated the tools I need to make that vision a reality.

More information: www.corel.com

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