Last year's Ulead VideoStudio 6.0 won accolades, but Ulead has lost some ground with version 7.0. While the company made many worthwhile additions, including support for the new DVD-VR format and a nifty multicut editing tool, VideoStudio 7.0's effects, sounds, and DVD menus are woefully behind the competitions'. Even though we still think of VideoStudio as one of the better editing apps around, you'll get far better results with the slightly more expensive MGI VideoWave. If you own an older version of VideoStudio, we don't think it's worth paying the $50 upgrade fee unless you really must have the DVR support. Installing VideoStudio is quick and easy. In addition to the setup CD, you get a second disc that includes audio and video samples as well as a 10-step video tutorial--a big help for beginners.
You won't feel cramped by VideoStudio's timeline view. With one click, you can expand it to fill your whole screen.
Just like version 6.0, the main window features a large preview window in the center with the storyboard and timelines for editing beneath it and eight tool tabs along the top. VideoStudio's DVD menus are attractive and customizable, even if they still can't compare with the ultracool menus you'll see in iMovie and VideoWave. One notable improvement: the annoying Start menu, which required you to decide from the get-go whether you were making a DVD, a VCD, or an SVCD before you could begin a project, is gone.
VideoStudio 7.0 retains version 6.0's strong set of features and adds a few new ones to the mix. Our favorite newcomer is the multicut editing tool, which allows you to select and delete several segments at the same time. For example, you can select and delete all the commercials in your video in one fell swoop. In addition to MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, VideoStudio now supports the DVD-VR format, which is commonly used by camcorders that record to DVD-RAM and DVD-R and DVD set-top recorders. While VideoStudio 6.0's Instant Preview lets you take a quick, lower-quality look at your edits, you can preview your work in real time in version 7.0. But one time-saver is more of a bother than a boon: VideoStudio automatically adds random transitions between clips, which made us crazy. Fortunately, you can turn this feature off in the program's Preferences and select your own.
This version includes a total of 190 effects (5 of which are new to version 7.0) that you can easily add to clips, but the results looked far too amateurish. One of the five new filters, Bubbles, was supposed to add floating bubbles to a scene, but you'll never confuse them with the real thing. Worse, the included audio samples sound like they were made with a cheap Casio organ.
VideoStudio's Bubbles filter is an interesting idea, but the results don't pop.
On the bright side, Ulead integrated DVD-menu creation: instead of using a separate app as with version 6.0, you can create DVD menus in a new window from within VideoStudio. But the DVD tool contains a paltry 30 menu templates, and they're of only average quality. None has animated backgrounds or the polish of VideoWave's or iDVD's.
VideoStudio now comes with a tool for making 3D and animated titles. Just type your title, and you can easily move it around with your mouse to whatever angle you want. While it's a nice addition, we wish we didn't have to launch it separately.
VideoStudio's support options are above average but not outstanding. You can access FAQs, e-mail support, and free phone support (Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT) from the site. Our call about a minor problem we had with batch capture using a Canon DV camcorder was answered quickly and accurately.