MediaStudio Pro 7.0, a significant upgrade of Ulead's video-editing suite, brings faster performance for real-time preview and on-the-fly conversion, improved editing functionality, and useful new features such as quick DV-segment indexing and animation tools. The package's working style is very different from that of competitor Adobe Premiere. Premiere has the fit and polish of a European sedan with integrated components, while MediaStudio Pro is like an all-terrain vehicle with extra gadgets and custom add-ons. The Ulead program actually comprises six apps, each with a profusion of features and options.
The installer CD installs the entire suite in one go. The process went smoothly for us, but it's a bit laborious; you have to wade through a good number of windows. During installation, MediaStudio Pro automatically loads Windows components, such as DirectX. Oddly, if Windows Media 9 Format SDK is already installed, it offers to uninstall itself, which forced us to cancel the routine. The program sucks up 160MB, including 50MB for sample files.
The five core applications are Video Capture, Video Editor, Audio Editor, Video Paint, and CG Infinity. Ulead VCD/DVD Disc Image Recorder is a bonus mini app for burning images to disc. You'll find them all in the Start menu's Ulead MediaStudio Pro folder. The company also tossed in a limited version of its DVD MovieFactory, which is designed for video export only; it doesn't have the full product's direct capture to DVD. Each app has a Switch menu for quick toggling between MediaStudio components and other installed Ulead software. Transferring media files between applications is easy, especially through the shared Production Library folder accessible from each program.
MediaStudio Pro's interface is on the busier side, with lots of windows and floating items. You'll see palettes, toolbars, and menus with text and icons, plus a profusion of sliders and direct controls for manipulating elements such as motion paths. What's more, these all provide access to a sometimes bewildering array of advanced options with multiple levels and dialog boxes.
Video Editor, a full-featured nonlinear editor, is the heart of MediaStudio Pro. Its familiar interface includes the Production Library for organizing media and effects, the A/B Timeline, and Source and Preview windows. Each element leads to a dialog box with extensive settings, from keyframed fades to Timeline-display options.
The impressive new Scan DV Tape feature alone is worth the upgrade. It prescans your tape at scan-forward speeds of up to about 10X (trading quickness for quality and accuracy), finds the individual clips, and places a thumbnail of each in a DV album. You can then batch-capture the full clips when you need them. The process works with any cassette that will record DV.
The new Scan DV Tape feature prescans your tape and builds a DV album with thumbnails of individual clips.
MediaStudio Pro offers color correction for highlights, midtones, and shadows, as well as a broad selection of useful effects. The Video Paint rotoscoping application gives you more-sophisticated options, enabling you to perform manual retouching, insert and remove elements, and add overlay effects such as laser flashes that move across the frames. With CG Infinity, you can create dynamic titles and graphics, animate over time with keyframed motion paths, and adjust transparency.
As for audio, you can dynamically adjust levels with Video Editor's Audio Mixing panel, or switch to Audio Editor to edit clips and apply filters. Unfortunately, Audio Editor failed to start up on three different test machines; when it succeeded, it crashed when we tried to use it. After several rounds of discussion with the product team, Ulead replicated the difficulty: a conflict with other installed video programs. Ulead never identified the problem apps, but it provided a patch so that we could work around them; the company also said the solution would be rolled into online upgrades.