Everyone who watches a movie secretly wants to be the next Spielberg. Come on, you know you do. Don’t lie to me or yourself. Most amateur and professional video editors have heard of industry standard editing tools like Adobe Premiere, or Final Cut Pro.
But how many folks have heard of a small company called Ulead? While Ulead doesn’t have the marketing muscle or mindshare that their competitors have, their latest release should change all of that.
Ulead Studio Quartet is an amazingly rich suite of editing tools that combines Ulead’s entire (mostly) lineup of leading edge software products into one tidy package. You want multi-track Non Linear Editing? USQ got you covered with the stellar Media Studio Pro 7.0. You want 3D Titling and Scene Effects? USQ gives you Cool 3D Production Studio. You want to make professional level DVDs? Again, no worries; USQ comes bundled with DVD MovieFactory 2.0.
I’ve been working with Ulead’s toolset for about two years now, and I’m constantly amazed by the sheer power of it. And I’m talking just about the Video Editor portion of Media Studio Pro. When I originally got 6.5 last year I was a total neophyte when it comes to editing. I took one look at the interface and went running for the hills, or in this case running towards the Ulead’s User friendly, yet feature rich Video Studio package.
Video Studio is the editor for complete morons (of which I was proudly one), people who barely know how to use Windows that alone tackle the intricacies of editing a video project. To be honest to review this entire package would probably take me about 20 pages, so I’m going to stick with the app that I spent the most time with, and that’s Media Studio Pro 7.0
Media Studio Pro 7.0
After a few months with Video Studio, I decided to give Media Studio Pro another shot. And man am I glad. Once you get over the intimidation factor (for newbies) you will find MSP’s interface more intuitive and user friendly than it’s competitor’s Premiere and Final Cut Pro.
Media Studio Pro is actually four programs in one, it comes with it’s own Text Generating program called CG Infinity, a Video Paint program called appropriately enough Video Paint, A Separate program for Video Editing, and it’s own built in Video Capture program.The programs work well together, but switching between all of these open programs can become a pain in the butt real fast. So for practical reasons each program should be treated as it’s own separate entity.
For the sake of argument I will only talk about the Video Editor as that is where all the fun in the program can be had, and to be honest I haven’t spent too much time working with the other three, although I will say that I have yet to figure out how to get Video Capture to work.
I totally dig the Video Editor application. To say this program is powerful is an understatement. The editor comes with more than 200 built in transitions, 100 filters, a ton of moving path options, and the ability to have up to 99 editing tracks. If you want to do video compositing, you can use a program like After Effects to make some truly stunning compositions, but with a little careful planning and logic you can create a lot of the stuff that After Effects is used for right on your Timeline.
Video Editor has it’s own built in Overlay system that allows you to do blue-screen, chromo-key, transparency effects and more. And all of this is out of the box functionality! You don’t have to go off and purchase a Chromo-key or Blue-Screen add on, in MSP it is a simple matter of a couple of clicks and you can do all sorts of high-end nifty effects.
One of the reasons that I don’t use the CG Infinity is that, unlike MSP 6.5 (one of the few real material differences between 6.5 and 7.0), MSP 7.0 includes a professional title editor that includes more than 100 title effects, everything from creating animated fly-ins, to fadeouts, to making your text “drop-in,” or “bounce-in” can be done with a simple button click. No more overlaying moving paths over your text track. You can use the editor’s built in title engine to create professional level movie titles or 3 quarters with minimal headache or hassle. This was one advantage that Adobe Premiere had over MSP, and now they are on the track to catching up with Premiere.
To fully be useful it would be nice if MSP incorporated Premiere’s Title Template System – while I never could get that to work in Premiere 6.5, I still love the concept of being able to scroll through a list of 100 sample templates and simply dragging and dropping them into my timeline. Instead with MSP you are forced to be (dare I say it?) creative and come up with your own titles and title bars.MSP 7.0 now includes its own built in Audio Editor – which, when it works, is pretty darn nifty.
You can now edit your audio levels, sweeten the ambiance, and mix your tracks live on the fly. It’s a very nice addition to the system; unfortunately I could never get it to work with any consistency. It would randomly freeze and crash my computer. Eventually I just stopped using it. I’m hoping they come up with a patch that addresses this problem soon. Their last patch fixed issues with the title app, and some other minor quibbles, but the audio mixing panel will be a major issue for some.
When your project is all set to render your project, the sheer number of available output options will amaze you. MSP supports direct export through firewire as well as DV1 & DV2 encoding, the latest streaming technologies (Windows Media, Real, and Quicktime), MPEG, AVI, something called AutoDec Animation (I have no idea what this is), about the only major format that it doesn’t export to is Flash. But if you are doing video why would you want to export to flash format, although, I could probably think of some cool uses for such a feature.
Now my only major issue with Media Studio Pro is the incredibly long render times. I’m running a P4 1.8, with 768 Megs of Ram, with an ATI 8500DV Capture Card. I like to think that my system is no slouch in the speed department, but when it comes time to rendering video, the system comes to a slow crawl. MSP 7.0 seems to suck up a lot of system resources, our show – EMTV, is cut using MSP. It’s a 1/2 hr show, that normally utilizes about 7 – 10 tracks on the timeline, primarily because I’m doing real time compositing, and generally it’ll take about seven to nine hours to render.
This is assuming all the files are in the same format, if you have footage in different formats your render time will increase by another several hours and god forbid those be quicktime files. For some reason MSP doesn’t handle certain quicktime file types all that well. This probably won’t be big deal some professional level producers and editors, but for the hobbiest, well it just may be. But then MSP isn’t made for the hobbiest, it’s made for the professional editor, or large scale production houses, but is easy enough where just about anyone can sit down and start editing with quick and fast results.
Media Studio Pro, and especially the Video Editor is worth the price of admission alone. By throwing in DVD MovieFactory 2, Cool 3D Production Studio – which went from being an easy, user friendly 3D design application to being simply ponderous, and PhotoImpact, the folks at Ulead have created a truly irresistible suite of editing tools. And you can’t beat the $800 price point.
Final Grade B
Ulead Studio Quartet
Review by Michelle Alexandria9/15/03-
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[url=http://www.ulead.com/msp/compare.htm]Click Here To See the Comparisons Between MSP and Premiere 6.5.[/url]