Movie Moguls Awake!
Edit Movies like a Pro
The holiday season has come and gone and many readers have a new camcorder. You want to make a movie! Some of you simply want to transfer your home movies to a better, more permanent media. Whatever your need, one of these three programs will fit you to a "T". All three are feature rich, relatively easy to use and understand, and available for less than $100 - sometimes, way less. But you will need a fairly hefty computer and large hard drive. Don't skimp on your computer resources or try any of these programs on less than a Pentium 3/800MHz system. Too slow and exasperating. Video editing does require basic planning to be successful.
The usual advice. After installation, go to the vendor's web site and download any updates and/or patches. Programs are not listed in any particular order. I'm not a movie mogul, but I did tinker with one of the programs and it is actually fun to make your own movie.
Charles W. Evans, Reviews Editor
Studio 8, by Charlie Weekley
Pinnacle, developer of Studio 8, is designed for people who are beginner to intermediate video editors. It is ideal for someone with a lifetime's worth of home video who needs a more permanent storage medium as well as a way to make your videos more interesting. The advantage of S8 is that you can capture and edit your video like a pro (well, almost) without the cost and learning curve of professional programs. You can add 3D scene transitions, titles, video effects, background music and much more to make your video project more enjoyable. Once you are finished, you can transfer your hard work back to tape, CD or DVD to share with the world.
Pinnacle recommends a minimum of a 500MHz CPU with 256MB of RAM. S8 requires over 300MB of hard disk space for the program alone, and you will need many times that to do any useful work. Installation was easy. Disk 1 took about five minutes plus one restart, disk 2 was about the same. I highly recommend the guided tour included on the installation; it makes you feel like you really can do this. There is a seven MB update and a driver patch that you must download and install, nothing unusual here.
S8 is amazingly easy to use. There are three basic steps involved in a video project: capture the video, edit it, then output the movie to the storage medium. When you open S8, you immediately see the three tabs at the top of the page, Capture, Edit, and Make Movie. The program opens in the edit mode because this is the most used area. To import video, click the capture tab. The resulting screen will depend on how you are capturing your video: DV (digital video) through a Firewire port, or analog video from an analog camcorder or VCR. You must have some form of video capture hardware installed in your computer. All the controls are easy to see and understand. For DV capture, you see a graphic of a camcorder with all of the usual buttons (start, stop, pause etc.). The capture process went smoothly.
Next, click the Edit tab at the top. Again, all needed tools are easy to locate. The left navigation area has six tabs: video scenes (your captured video), transitions, titles, frame grabs (stills), sound effects, and menus (chapter headings for DVD, VCD and S-VCD). To the right of the tabs is the Album, containing captured video frames, and on the far right is the player. The player is where you review your editing work. Below this is the movie window, where you edit all of your work.
Drag and drop clips from the album into frames in the movie window. This is also how you add titles, transitions, stills, sound and all the other effects to the movie; just drag and drop. The movie window has three different ways to work on your movie. Storyboard view is where you drag and drop. Timeline view is where you trim clips and effects for length and see your overall movie length. Text view is an outline format where you can see details of what you have done.
The final step is to make the movie. Here you have a choice as to the type of output for your movie, how you save and view it. The choices range from videotape, AVI, MPEG, streaming video for the web, and disk (VCD, S-VCD, DV). Once again this was easy to do, all controls are easy to find and use, with no surprises. I was able to capture, edit and save my movie far more easily than I ever believed possible. In two hours I actually learned how to make a movie!
Pinnacle has done an excellent job making this program easy to comprehend and use. The manual is well written and easy to understand. The program is ideal for beginners through intermediate users; even pros could take advantage of the simplicity and ease of use S8 offers. I highly recommend this program to anyone with the desire to make movies. From simple editing of home video to amateur movies, Pinnacle S8 is a very good starting point. For more information and updates go to www.pinnaclesys.com.
Charlie Weekley is a HAL-PC member who uses Pinnacle Studio 8 to archive, create and edit video in a new graphic arts business. He can be reached at email@example.com.
VideoWave 5 Power Edition, by Martha Harris
VideoWave, by Roxio, is well known for its CD burner software. It has taken this experience over to digital movie editing. Start with a very user friendly set of tools for a comprehensive range of editing that will quickly make the novice look good (ditto for the less demanding business user). In addition to the program CD, there are two CDs full of media content, including audio files, video clips and themes - all of which you can import to your DVD for great looking home movies. It is designed to capture, edit and produce video in various formats from DVD or CD disks to streaming video on the web.
VW uses the "storyboard" metaphor called Storyline. Storyboard editing is one of the most direct and easiest ways for the novice to quickly edit video. If you have the right DVD burner, you can create a good quality DVD or Video CD (VCDs can be used in your DVD player). You don't need a DVD recorder for your movies, but you will need at least a CD burner. Ease of use starts with VW's effortless installation and extends to its consistent, easily understood interface - no guessing here!!
It is a highly structured and practical interface that you'll work with most of the time. You capture and preview in a window on the right side, adding videos individually to the storyboard at the top. The titling libraries can create nice styles that use a variety of fonts, shadows, colors, etc. Text positioning is limited to certain predefined areas - little flexibility here. The program's overlay capabilities are exceptionally powerful. Set values for start or hold or finish positions for most effects. Some customization is possible. The lack of a timeline hampers the usefulness of these features, however.
The DVD authoring tools have improved, but the approach is like a blank piece of paper in which you have full control over content and appearance. I would like to have seen some basic design templates included for simple projects.
Simply plug in your digital camcorder and select Capture (you'll need a Firewire port for this operation). Hit the Play button to start the video and then select Video + Audio from the Capture menu. At this point it does not separate your scenes automatically. The handy tool, Scene Detector, searches for breaks and this makes editing easier. Hit the Author DVD button and you'll be asked what type of disk you want to create: DVD, SuperVideo or VideoCD. Now that's easy enough, but after the prior step, VW begins to hiccup a bit. VW's strong suite has always been its pro-level visual effects. Use the Time Warp feature to speed up or slow down selected sections of your movie.
Although most other programs let you preview your movie before final production, VW obliges you to produce, then save, then preview. Not good for longer projects.
Unfortunately, audio control remains a weakness. VW doesn't offer a multi-timeline. You must first import an audio file (only WAV and MP3 files), then add it to a pre-selected video. There were similar problems with the prior version.
On the other hand, this version has support for creating DVDs, VCDs and MiniDVDs along with full support for WinXP, which means faster production for XP users. I was impressed with the wide range of input formats. For example: AVI, MPG1 & 2, MP3, Wav and Windows Media. Output is even more important: MPG1 & 2, RealAudio, Windows streaming formats, etc. Remember that VCDs have lower picture quality than DVDs.
Some things to work on: 1. The sound sync, 2. Good manual, but mediocre reference and so-so HELP, 3. Improve time estimates and 4. Support for Super VideoCD. VideoCD video quality is mediocre.
VideoWave 5 is best for home movies and less demanding business applications. Professional editors may want a more advanced program like Adobe's Premiere. VW is ideal for first-time users, since it offers a clear, understandable layout and a nice range of exceptional tools. For more info and patches, go to www.roxio.com.
Martha Harris is a HAL-PC member who is a serious video hobbyist.
VideoStudio 6, by Charles W. Evans
Although VideoStudio, by Ulead Systems, arrived too late for a comprehensive review, I want to ensure you have a sound "first look". VS 6 editing application is an 8-step, workflow style interface aimed at beginning video editing enthusiasts. Each step in creating a video is clearly defined, with a tab at the top of the screen. While most video edit programs are primarily timeline-based, VS allows you to edit your projects in Storyboard mode or Timeline mode (very nice).
The Storyboard mode lets you assemble your project in a way that represents the order of events that you want to showcase. The Timeline mode features five separate tracks for media.
The first production step may be a problem since you will choose a template based on your desired output, say MPEG-2 for DVD. Then the program automatically captures all DV input into MPEG2 format and renders all transitions, titles, and special effects in MPEG-2 as well. This approach saves final rendering time, but you lose features such as scene detection. My advice is to select the DV template and render after you've completed all your editing.
VS supports basic authoring. Where most programs let you import multiple files, VS's plug-in can handle only two files. This approach is quite restrictive. VS doesn't let you place text precisely over the background video and the font and style libraries are rudimentary.
Menus aren't overly sophisticated while still giving enough features to produce professional results. IEEE Firewire support works with most new DV cameras. Many formats enable DVD/VCD Mpeg1 & 2 creation as well as NTSC and PAL support. I wish it had a multiple track (video/audio) overlay like Adobe Premier. Advanced special effects, multiple overlays, etc. are not available.
Note: you can edit audio, video and titles with frame-level accuracy in Timeline mode.
Most DV cameras have standardized on the IEEE 1394/Firewire connection, so stick with DV cameras and IEEE 1394 cards. Scene Detection automatically reads the timecode on your video tape. Seamless Capture for Windows 9x FAT-32 users allows continuously capturing your video in four GB chunks. The Effects library has a range of preset transitions and effects. Once you are ready to commit your video to an output method (web, videotape, CD-ROM, DVD, etc.), SmartRendering will render only those parts that have "changed" (again, another nice touch). One of the most efficient options is InstaView that allows preview without first rendering!
VS6 supports more than two dozen video and audio formats. Program and content CDs are included. The Manual is slim and follows a logical sequence in explaining each operation. Some are inputs, some are outputs. Make sure it will support whatever format you wish to OUTPUT to. VideoStudio 6 is a solid, value-packed way to go to get your feet wet with video editing. For more information visit Ulead Systems at 800-858-5323 or www.ulead.com.
Charles W. Evans is a HAL-PC member, Reviews Editor for the Magazine and amateur movie mogul (?), who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles W. Evans is a HAL-PC member and the Magazine’s Reviews Editor who can be contacted at email@example.com