Business Software

Video Editors for Tech-Savvy Business Users

Corel VideoStudio Pro X4

When I first fired up Corel VideoStudio Pro X4 and saw its interface, with tabs labeled Capture, Edit and Share, I said, "That makes sense."

Further investigation confirmed my impression that VideoStudio has a very practical, easy-to-understand user philosophy. Click each tab, and you see a different set of controls relevant to that function, enabling you to focus on that one task. With Capture, the timeline vanishes and is replaced with information about the clips you're importing; Edit restores the timeline and the explorers for transitions, effects and titling; and Share lets you view the whole project in the preview window and select from a number of export options.

Like Adobe Premiere, you can switch between storyboard (which Adobe calls "scene") and timeline editing modes. The former makes it easy to cobble footage together shot by shot; the latter allows for precise frame-level adjustments. Using storyboard mode makes it a bit easier to see your entire project at a glance, and makes handling transitions and effects that much easier as well. Click a button to the left of the timeline and you can switch between views at will.

The Instant Project function, accessed from a button just above the timeline, is not a movie-creation wizard, as the name might imply. Instead, it creates a generic movie template in the current timeline, with either opening or closing titles plus transitions between a dozen or so placeholder clips. You then replace the placeholder items in the template with your own clips, edit the titles and transitions, and adjust the length of each clip as needed. It's not a bad way to jump-start an editing project, or to get a feel for how editing works with a timeline.

A number of basic template styles (different opening graphics, different typefaces) are included by default, with more templates (called Style Packs) available from Corel as downloads. Those themes are what amount to canned content for the program; there's not a lot in the form of stock footage. Projects can also be exported as templates for easy reuse by others -- a handy way to enforce consistency of look and feel for clips within a company or department.

X4 features a few plug-ins from the NewBlueFX family of effects -- mostly artistic effects like noise removal or a filter to simulate camera shake. Most people will find the camera shake removal filter (one of Corel's own standard plug-ins) to be more useful.

Another intriguing addition in X4 is the ability to perform stop-motion animation or time-lapse photography, either by importing multiple images or capturing them from a device at regular intervals.

The Share tab could also be named Publish, since that's what it amounts to: writing a project out to DVD or tape, or uploading it to a video-sharing site such as YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook or Flickr. One important sharing function is, oddly, not found in the Share tab but in the program's File menu: the Smart Package feature, which bundles all of the needed files for your project into a single folder, so it can be used on another computer or across a network. You can also export to a Web page, but that option isn't too useful; it amounts to automatically creating a Web page with a link in it to the video.

At a Glance

Corel VideoStudio Pro X4

Corel Corp.

Price: $99.99

Pros: Easy-to-navigate tabbed interface; timeline and storyboard mode for editing

Cons: Full-screen-only mode is annoying

It's possible to convert exported movies to 3D -- either as anaglyph (red/blue) or side-by-side image streams -- but this is not much more than a novelty. You simply set a depth value for the movie, and the exporter synthesizes a 3D image from the existing 2D video.

There are a few cases where VideoStudio's interface is a little too simple for its own good. For example, when the program is in focus, it takes up the entire screen. It can't be run in a window alongside other applications, although you can bring other apps into focus above it. I'd bet this would annoy more than just experts.

Bottom line

In sum, VideoStudio has many concessions to less-video-savvy users, but it can be a little too simple for its own good.

Creating an instant project and switching between timeline and storyboard modes with Corel VideoStudio Pro X4.

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